Making Music's perfect dealer speaks (grunts, actually).
THE DISTINCTIVE bell tones of the (secondhand) Yamaha DX7 ring out as another lucky customer enters the front door at Veryuptodate Music Ltd.
This is a mark of some enterprise on his part; he had to find the precise alleyway (unmarked) between the El Morocco fast-food cafe and the Lady Diana unisex hairdressers and beauty salon. Down the alley, un-negotiable by all but the slimmest of delivery vans (a bike with a basket on the front would be ideal), just behind the pile of uncollected rubbish, is the famous door through which our intrepid musician has penetrated.
The DX7 rings out.
Dave (for it is he) comes out from his little workshop at the back of the shop. "Ello man. How ya doing? Cuppa tea?"
On first glance you'd say that Dave had seen better days. Certainly you'll have seem better Daves. This one has shoulder-length hair that has not had the skilled attentions of nearby Lady Di's.
He is wearing strange workmanlike garments, blue in hue and covering most of his not inconsiderable frame.
He clutches a cigarette which has most likely been rolled some days earlier.
He is unshaven. He is quite likeable, really, when you get to know him.
"Cuppa tea?" he repeats.
"Nah," replies the invading customer. "It's me Strat. Me Strat don't work. Can you fix it, or what?"
"Well," considers Dave. "A Strat. Tha's a Fender Strat, is it?"
"Wha's the difference?" enquires the customer.
"Well," begins Dave, with a degree of panic in his voice. "Yeah, er, a Fender has got Fender on the thingy and the others haven't and they can't call them Strats but of course they do but Fender also use Squier which is like cheaper and made in Japan but is really Fender well it's designed by them anyway and so only them with Fender or Squier on the thingy are like real Fenders well sort of."
Dave sinks exhausted into the chair by his workshop doorway. He attempts a drag from his long-extinguished roll-up. Then he slaps his hands on the many pockets which festoon his work garments. "Gorra light?"
"Nah don't smoke, prefer living. D'you know anything about guitars, then?"
Dave looks momentarily scared, but his confidence quickly returns. "I have completed the 'Completely Fictitious American Guitarist's Cassette Course On Being Wonderful In the Company of Guitars' course," Dave proudly explains, sucking once more on the lifeless dog-end between his lips.
The customer looks puzzled. Not surprising. "Can ya fix me Strat or not?" "Well tell us wha's wrong with it," suggests Dave with a sudden burst of reasonableness. Assuming, of course, that such an unlikely word as 'reasonableness' exists.
"Reasonableness," says the customer, "is the adverb derived from reasonable. The bridge is well dodgy and the back pickup sounds all thin and weedy. Can ya fix it or not?"
"Ooooh, dunno, dodgy bridge, weedy pickup, sounds pretty bad, might have to send it back to Japan," grumbles Dave unconvincingly.
"But I bought it here."
This piece of information must have caused Dave some internal pain, given his sudden and violent jerking motion. "How, long, ago," he spits out between jerks.
"Dunno, let's 'ave a look at the receipt." The customer takes various objects from his donkey jacket's pocket and puts them on top of the Marshall cabinet between him and the now shaking Dave.
He gets out a tiny model donkey, an equally tiny model bus, seven plectra, something which was presumably once a handkerchief, and a piece of grey folded paper. He unfolds it; inside it is white paper with grey edges.
"Here we go," estimates the punter, peering at the piece of paper. "Veryuptodate Music Ltd, that's it. 'One Fendora Caster guitar, as new, £95. Received from A. Punter, cash', and it's signed 'Dave'." They are interrupted by the entry of a young urchin into the shop.
"Dave, Dave!" screams the breathless youth. "I've got a message from short-arse Alan, the one who sent round the furniture van. He says he..." the urchin stops dead, having suddenly noticed the presence of A Customer. He continues, more slowly, enunciating carefully and keeping his eyes on the stranger. "He says wants to know, are the bullets in the chambers?' And winks heavily.
"Oh, oh, right," fumbles Dave. He darts into his workshop. "Yeah, er, target practice is about to commence," he calls out. He appears again, trying to hide an envelope which he stuffs into the urchin's hand, who in turn slips him a small package. The urchin turns and runs out of the shop.
"Ha ha," laughs Dave unconvincingly. "He collects me, er, pools coupon. Great kid, eh?" In his effort to get back into his chair, Dave knocks over a wooden box, which clangs and rattles to the floor, the unmistakeable sound of loose coins.
"Aha, the fines box," claims Dave, happy to change the subject.
The now somewhat bemused customer latches on to this relatively understandable subject. "What fine's that then?"
"Fines for when the punters play them tunes," explains Dave, pointing at a chart on the wall between the knock-down-price Bond guitar and the knock-down-price Cactus drum pad. The chart is headed 'Fines charged for playing the following in this shop', and then lists 'Smoke On The Water 50p', 'Stairway To Heaven 40p', 'Kayleigh 30p', 'Rodrigo Guitar Concerto 20p', 'Anything Else Dave Doesn't Like 10p'.
"But it balances out," insists Dave, judging from the customer's hurt expression that these are probably his favourite tunes. "Cos I pay for jokes, 10p if I laugh, 50p if I fall over. S'not bad, eh? You got any?"
"Er, what do you call someone who hangs about with musicians?" asks the punter.
"Dunno," replies Dave dutifully.
Dave falls over, digs 50p out of one of his pockets, and holds it up for the joker. The recipient takes advantage of the evident change of mood, and returns to the subject of his receipt.
"What about me Strat, then?"
Dave picks himself up, brushes some of the dust away, and looks at the customer. "I'm going to have to send it away to get looked at. You got it with you?" he asks, noticing the complete lack of large guitar-shaped objects about the customer's person and, thereby, a potential loophole.
"Ah no, I'll have to get it. I borrowed it to Peter cos he let me have the amp for a few days though I think he's probably borrowed it to Cath cos her Casio is in the music room at the moment and I don't think Pete has one of those which means that if I give Cath a ring tonight though course she's probably away on that course so I s'pect it'll be a week or two before I can find it. Yeah, I'll bring it in, no problem."
"Right then," says Dave, a little stunned, but remembering his Small Business Efficiency course. "Anything else I can get you while you're here?" "Oh yeah, I know what I was going to ask, have you got one of them samplers, the cheap Jap one, I forget the name. It got great reviews in all them magazines what had the adverts. It's in the Buyer's Bible."
"No er sorry, we don't stock any of that synthesiser stuff, apart from some secondhand bits and pieces. No, we sort of specialise in guitars really," says Dave.
"But it says outside 'Veryuptodate Music Ltd'," objects our patient customer.
"Ah yeah, it's just the name of the shop mate," concludes Dave.
Feature by Tony Bacon
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