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Chimmie Does Distribution Part 2

 

"You look like a Zombie, Austin," I observe as I hand him a cardboard record box and a backpack full of records.
"You're late," he says, giving that charming little sideways smile where he squints as if the sun is in his eye.
"Sorry. The bus. Not very reliable, but it does go past the end of my road and it comes right here."
Ellis and I are at the foot of Centrepoint at the outset of quite a different itinerary.

But first let me explain how I got here.
Although I said previously, I was sure we would end up having to take to the streets, I did all that sensible stuff like despatching test pressings emailing a link to a "taster" edit, rang people etc. Then I go to West London, as described. The next day I decided to continue going round on public transport and get the stock there if required, as I wasn't getting anything more than a headache by going by car. Fulham, Clapham, Battersea and then some place in North London.
"Good track, but you'll have to wait til Adam comes back from holiday for a decision," says Tristan.
Of course, when Adam comes back he doesn't want it and nothing else is coming in. It's all going one way, what Ellis and I are Doing Now but first...........

I go out on my own. My ancestor Robert had to enthuse his followers by splitting someone's skull in single combat near Stirling, just off the A9, the road which will become the subject of a classic work, entitled "A9". Anyway, I too have anticipated in lone action. The Saturday before I meet Ellis at the bus stop I place 10 copies at the Rough Trade shop in W10. The campaign has begun.

And challenge of this campaign is simple: if we can't get someone to distribute to shops then we distribute to whatever shops we can reach by ourselves. Of course, I've taken stuff direct to shops before but that was just on top of what the distributors were doing, if they didn't hit all the London shops. But now it's the main dish.

Central London dance record shops are largely in 2 areas: Soho and Covent Garden. We'll do these and then move east in whatever remains of the day.

"We've started too early," complains Ellis. This protest about our starting time of 10.00 a.m. proves irritatingly correct. Nobody's open, so it's time for a cappuccino and a croissant. As I've said before: The Lad Needs Guidance. So I remind him that whatever happens, as of the previous Saturday, we already have distribution. I say nothing about the thoughts that I have that this may be just a bunch of hippies taking pity on a hopeless bunch of losers.

It turns out that Austin used to produce and (more importantly) sell a publication to comic shops and conventions when he was younger. This is a bit of a revelation to me as all he seems to do in the fiefdom of Electronic Arts is to sit in some dungeon scraping bits of C++ onto Harry Potter in return for bowls of gruel that appear through a hole in the wall. So anyway it turns out that he's quite good at this selling bit after all. (We'll forget about that delivery note you wrote without the carbon OK?)

The Brown Cardboard Record box is a useful prop. Walk into a shop with one of these and a duplicate book for writing delivery notes and you hardly have to explain what you're up to, which is quite refreshing as most of the rest of the time people don't seem to know what I'm up to at all.
When it comes to it though, I have a cracking line in patter, like:
"I've got a white label that I'm doing. Do you want to have a listen?"
But then there's that "What sort of music is it?" question again. I have taken Inglesfield's suggestion and mutter something about "...experimental break beat/2 step eschatological dichotomy...." which invariably shuts them up.

We do get around and we have a nice little lunch in a nice little cafe. Of course, there's the usual kind of crap that falls into our lives like going to key shops on our list and reading Bailiff's Notices, premises that show empty behind the security grille or now announce their kind of business as "Suspender Bar". Later on we find that some of them have basically gone on holiday for the summer............

On we go.

"It's not really suitable for our customers."
A look of reproach comes over his face as he swops another record onto the deck and turns it up.
"You should do Something Like This," he shouts.
His eyes start bulging as he warms to his theme, and he's giving it some with his neck muscles. His face is a rictus of glee.
"Listen," he screams, "It's pumping. Pumping!"
Right. Well he sure told us, eh?

We decide to get Covent Garden out of the way.

"Hi. Do you do White Labels?"asks Ellis in one of the shops on our list.
We are redirected, with scrupulous politeness by a young man with what looks like a tide mark on his chin. This turns out, on closer inspection, to be finely sculpted beardage.
"I think you want Mad," he says. "Go out turn left and go to the end...."
Yes. It appears that we have mistaken a clothes shop for a record shop.

We come back to finish Soho.

"It's not our kind of thing. You should take this one to Trax, next door."
In we go to Trax. He doesn't look pleased to see us.
"What sort of thing is it?"
"Just give it a listen," Chimmie smiles weakly, tired of genre chopping.
"What are you doing them for?"
"Three pounds S.O.R."
He sticks it on. He must be going for a Guiness book of records entry as he excerpts about 2 chunks of two bars each, on each side, that's about six and half seconds of each side. He hands it back wordlessly with smug finesse.
"I think he must have wanted to ring his girlfriend," says Ellis, "I just don't know why he bothered asking about the price."

By the end of the day we will have placed Thirty Five copies, on top of the original Ten and the following weekend, I will bring it up to Sixty. It's fuck all, but as we wander out East and evening comes, a sense of achievement in adversity creeps over us. We drink chilled beer at the Royal Inn On The Park (Czech, not Hanoverian) as we wait for Telephone Girl to arrive with the Dove and the Maiden. We're going for a curry. There's an indefinable sense of "Get some oats.." going on now. It's been shite but we didn't crumple.

I hope that the rest of the summer will provide some light relief and fresh avenues for us to look down.