Thamensian

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Remembering the halcyon days of Kinghams ...

WHEN I am old I want to be a miserable old man in the pub.

I want to sit in the corner of the-pub-that-young-people-don’t-like (preferably because of me), nurse a pint for three hours and only look up from my dominos to pass a disparaging comment as people edge away from me.

Obviously I won’t approve of the latest fashion. TV will be rubbish and all I will crave is the good old days. By then music will be available from this much talked about ‘Cloud’ that I read about everywhere. No need for an iPod because you will have your own personal playlist stored in cyberspace rather than a hard drive. It goes without saying that I won’t like any of the songs you play.

And the chances are that I will stop one in three (That line is just for those who believe I am uneducated. If you don’t get it then I reckon you avoided the Art and Literature festival last week too). And I will tell those who will listen all about Kinghams.

Long before iTunes, years before Record House and even a decade before Woolworths, Kinghams was the greatest record shop that Thame ever had. Tucked away down Buttermarket, Kinghams was a treasure trove of vinyl delights.

Next door was the newsagent part of the business, but the smaller part of the Kingham empire was a long thin alley of a store with racks of LPs on each wall and a stand alone island in the middle.

All it took was for one person to dawdle and the flow of browsing customers would snarl up like the latest punk record blaring from the sound system behind the counter.

You couldn’t edge past, you just had to wait. It was the original One Direction. That was fine because you got a chance to flick through the records in front of you. I think half the nostalgia that people feel towards vinyl records is based on the cover art. I know that I would spend hours admiring the cover while reading the sleeve notes.

It’s the one thing you don’t get with an MP3 and for me the demise of the music industry goes hand in hand with the decision to market the music rather than the collectable whole of a record.

When we moved house a few years ago I was given an ultimatum. Either the records or the football programmes had to go.

I chose programmes because each one held a memory of a game I attended. But as I got rid of the records I found myself thinking back to how old I was when I bought each one, and what they meant to me. Most still had stickers from Kinghams in the corner. Kids of today: will you remember each version of iTunes?

Next: ‘Great loaves I got from Wrights the Bakers’ or ‘Sweets I stole from Granny Saunders’.