THE SALES CRAP TURNING POINT:
1973, I left school for a two year arts foundation course.
First, Dad insisted I get a job & earn some money.
Once again he was thinking ahead, planting the seed,
showing me how it was done. I didn’t think it at the time,
all my mates were in post exam euphoria back at school,
playing barely legal pranks on the head & his staff, getting
their revenge. I was caching the works mini bus
(an old ambulance) at 7:00 am out to the timber mill.
I worked all Summer, with the ladies on the crate packing
line hitting on me with relentless innuendoes, remembering
never to leave fingers in the wire binding machine as
when it malfunctioned (it did so regularly) solid wood was
reduced to pulp & fingers to memories. I made it through summer
calculating what I’d earned at the end of every day, counting
down to the trip to London we’d planned in Pete’s Mini Moke to
buy new electric guitars.
When the end of the last shift on the last day of the last
week came I wasn’t sad, didn’t bid the ladies on the line
a fond farewell or shed a tear – I skipped out’ve that
god forsaken hole & showered the last of the sawdust from
every nook, cranny & crack.
The drive to London was sunny & euphoric. With the sides off
& the top down our long hair flapping in knots around our eyes.
Everybody smiled to see how happy we looked driving South
with money in our pockets & guitars on our minds. In the early
70’s the back pages of the Melody Maker said Shaftesbury Avenue
was THE place for guitar shoppers so that’s where we drove
(parking up in a multi story on the corner of Lexington Street,
Soho – a few yards & 20 + years from what would become the
legendary Tomato building). We cruised the street, window shopping,
but never quite seeing anything that looked right or we could afford.
The entire summer’s mill work had rewarded me with the princely sum
of £110, I’d had to endure a lot’ve abuse & embarrassment for that
money & I wasn’t about to blow it on the first guitar on the street.
Somewhere up around where the fire station is now I saw a dream,
a mint green Gibson SG, with three single coil pick-ups & a price tag
of £120. Pete, being a qualified Metallurgist at British Steel
had enough wedge to help me out so I slipped into the store, buzzing
“Could I try that SG in the window please?” I asked the nonchalant
hairy regarding me from his slouch against the counter.
He looked side ways.
“What are you looking for son?”
Now remember, I was sixteen, left school, fresh out’ve work at the
timbre mill & this ‘head’ was calling me ‘son’. I remained calm
as my mates sucked their teeth & looked away.
“I’d like to try this one in the window please”
“yeah, y’see it’s not an SG & I know what you’re looking for & that
doesn’t sound like it”
“Could I just try it please?” I retorted.
“Well, y’see, I don’t think it’s what you looking for if you get what
“Well, I’ll tell ya. I’ve driven all the way down from the Midlands
today to buy a guitar & I’d really want to try THAT guitar because
I’ve got the price of it right here in my pocket but you just blew
And I strode out’ve the shop, crossed the road to Rose Morris &
bought a brand new Ned Callan Cody six string electric like the one
I’d read about in Guitar magazine last month. It was nowhere near
as good as the Gibson, would never acquire a vintage sound & would
barely increase in value in all the years I’ve kept it. That day
was a turning point for me, in which I decided that I would never
again spend money in a music shop where the staff were arrogant,
self-righteous, or up themselves, so a lot’ve shops lost a lot’ve
money from me & I still go out’ve my way to shop where I know there
are people who will treat me & a sixteen year old kid exactly the same.