June 13, 2008
It was high upon a dusty shelf towards the back of a shabby second-hand shop but it shone like a beacon the moment I looked through the window. I entered with trepidation and approached the scruffy, balding man seated with an enormous black dog on his lap.
“You weren’t here last time I came this way” was my opening comment.
“And I won’t be here next time unless things pick up” he mumbled.
“This is only a sideline to my proper job as a female impersonator.”
Anticipating my incredulous stare he produced a grubby card which appeared to be a photograph of Danny La Rue kissing a big black dog.
“She’s in the act too.” He nodded towards the animal as if I may not have noticed it was there.
Desperate to change the subject I asked
“How much for the Selco?”
“That Tape Recorder up there.”
“Oh, fi….ten pounds to you. A bargain.”
“Does it work?”
“How the fu…..oh yes, perfect, perfect.”
“I’ll take it.”
He struggled to an upright position throwing the dog to the floor, and breathing heavily dragged the Tape Recorder from its shelf and dropped it unceremoniously on to a stack of Pickwick LPs. I put out one hand to balance it and stop it falling to the floor, presenting him £10 with the other.
“Most people haggle.”
I shrugged my shoulders and carefully avoiding bits of dog and junk made my way to the door.
“It comes with some Tapes” the proprietor shouted after me. I waited whilst he disappeared into the back for three or four minutes. I could hear noises and cursing. The dog glared malevolently at me. Finally he emerged triumphant with a large cardboard box containing dozens of reel-to-reel tapes.
“There you go.”
And I did. So also did the shop a few weeks later.
At home I examined my haul. The machine worked! The box contained forty-three tapes of Alan Freeman’s Pick of the Pops on the BBC Light Programme recorded between 1963 and 1967. All right? Not arf!!