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The Dog It Was That Died

Yesterday, I bought a pop CD.

Once upon a time, this would have been as unremarkable a statement as “yesterday I brushed my teeth”.

But these days, I’m getting older, and iTunes is so very easy – I want it, I’ve got it, I’ve forgotten about it, I want something else.  So I’ve just bought what I think is my first pop CD since the Beatles mono box set, back in the autumn of 2009.

I bought my new CD to provide a bit of inoffensive road music for a family trip – it’s one of those folky-boppy A303 albums made by expensively educated and well-spoken young men.  It doesn’t really stand comparison with the stuff I was ingesting when pop really mattered, but for old times’ sake, I shelled out my £7.

Now, I don’t buy CDs or books online, or from supermarkets.  My nearest indie record store is, frankly, a little scary, so my disc-buying choice is down to H, M, or V.

The store was on a big railway station concourse, and jammed behind a counter the size of a bus driver’s cab were three strapping blokes, all keenly engaged in busy-work that prevented them from noticing customers.  I tried the one who seemed closest to facing forward, and he caught me out of the corner of his eye – and asked his colleague to ring through the sale.

“Can you do this sale?” he said – words that imply a transaction without the need to acknowledge a customer.  The colleague did as he was bidden.  Now, he could have said “hi”, he could have said “thanks”, he could have made some comment on Jonah and the Ark, but he didn’t.  I paid up, and left.

I’ve worked in stations, airports, department store concessions and ill-equipped little shops (Our Price Finchley Road, anyone?), and I know that railway stations, cramped and squalid, are the worst of the lot.  But – fellas – YOUR COMPANY IS ON ITS KNEES.  You’ll find – trust me, this is true – that if you’re pleasant, if you’re quickly and efficiently welcoming and appreciative, that your job is a little bit better, and your customers might come back.

Perhaps that’s it, and I’ve bought my last pop disc, the last of thousands.  Perhaps the game is simply no longer worth a candle.  There’s clearly no desire to woo me (remember the £50 man?) any more.


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