Had a day off work today, chauffeuring Mary to a training session, just outside Stroud, deep in the southern Cotswolds. Her knees are now so bad that she can’t drive that far without severe discomfort (about 120 miles round trip). This gave me the opportunity to spend a day doing whatever I felt like, within the constraints of space and time (her training started at 10:00am and finished at 4:00pm) and weather (we’d awoken to the thunderstorms imported from France and most of the day was swathed in low cloud and mist, which only lifted at about 3pm). Parking near Stroud station, I wandered around town looking for a barber. It’s a really traditional old town, close knit and rambling around the natural contours of steep hills and valleys but not a traditional barber shop in sight: none of those spiraling red and white tubes on display (how did that tradition start and finish?). I did, however, find a place near the top of the literally accurate High Street, called “Just Hair”, which seemed to cater for hordes of kids, women and men, so I went in and was immediately granted a throne next to a little boy who determinedly sat the wrong way round on his seat and was treated with utmost consideration. He was replaced by his slightly bigger sister, whose gorgeous long curly tresses were just too troublesome and had to be curtailed. My thatch merely needed a good trim and the young girl with dyed blonde hair called Tash did a reasonable job, though she left a bit more of the slivery undergrowth at the back than I like. I was succeeded by a very distinguished looking gentleman with flowing locks and grey goatee beard, who had observed the proceedings with the air of a novelist.
I spent the next quarter of an hour browsing in the sort of secondhand bookshop you only find in old market towns: sheer bliss admiring the serried ranks of obscure books on obscure subjects in all realms of this world. Unfortunately there was a severe lack of fiction but loads of geography, history, biography, music and photography to keep me amused. Somehow, I managed to emerge purchaseless and wandered downhill to WH Smith where I got The Guardian and The Word and the wandered around a bit more before spotting Kane’s Records.
A proper record shop! Nothing like as good as Mr Bill’s local, Boo Boo’s in
So, music lovers! Boogie on down to your local record store this Saturday and celebrate its unique contribution to our society. They may not be what they were but they’re still magical places and out towns will be sadder places without them if we let them die.