"You look like a Zombie, Austin," I observe as I
hand him a cardboard record box and a backpack full of records.
But first let me explain how I got here.
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.
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."
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 come back to finish Soho.
"It's not our kind of thing. You should take this one to
Trax, next door."
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.