Extracts from Graham Jones' 'Last Shop Standing': Week 1

Last Shop Standing lifts the lid on an industry in tatters. Graham Jones has worked at the heart of record retailing since the golden era of the 1980s. He was there during the years of plenty and has witnessed the tragic decline of a business blighted by corruption and corporate greed. Last Shop Standing is a hilarious yet ahrrowing account by a man who has been there and sold that.

After looking through endless requests for cleaners or dead-end jobs, something stood out at me like a diamond in a bag of nutty slack. Amongst all the dross was a job that was perfect for me – HMV, the UK’s top record retailer, was looking for a sales assistant in their Liverpool branch. “Wow!” I thought. “What an opportunity!”

The interview went well and the manager, Paul Johnson, was quite firm, although I did seem to gel with him. He asked me to name all of the other record stores in town, which was not a problem for somebody who bought lots of vinyl and who would always shop around for the best value.

The next question threw me, as I had never been asked this in any previous interview, “Do you play football?” “Yes” I replied. The questions then became more surreal.

“Do you play in the Wirral Sunday League?” Again the answer was yes, and then it was, “Are you a goalkeeper?” Blimey, I thought, Paul must be psychic, or the HMV football team needed an injection of fresh blood. He then explained that he had been playing a match on the previous Sunday; the score was 2-2, and with one minute to go his team were awarded a corner. The ball was floated towards him; he met it good and true and headed the ball towards the top corner. Just as he turned to celebrate what he thought was the winner, the goalkeeper had leapt up and turned the ball over the bar. “You were that bloody goalkeeper, weren’t you? I knew I’d seen you before.” He was correct. I was that goalkeeper, and we had a good laugh about it. I knew at that moment that I had the job, even though Paul told me over 300 people had applied.

This was in the days when CDs had just come out. I lost count of the number of customers who brought back CDs because they could not play them on a record player. The music industry had marketed CDs so that many people believed that you could eat your dinner off them and they would still be playable. This was a blatant untruth.

One lady brought back a CD single by Kenny the Kangaroo, complaining that it jumped. “What did she expect?” we asked. “That’s what Kangaroos do!” The humour was lost on her and she demanded a refund.

Often you had to be a bit of a detective. People would come in and ask for “that song off the radio”, and then look surprised that you required more clues, “Well, it’s a woman” they would say and that normally improved my chances by 50 per cent. I recall a lady who asked for ‘The Jogging Song’ and, after numerous guesses, I realised it was ‘Running Up The Hill’ by Kate Bush.

Another guy commented that he had heard a great song on the radio, and though he didn’t know the title, he thought the name of the band was something like diarrhoea. I soon deduced that the band was in fact Dire Straits. I thought this was the daftest thing somebody had said to me until a young man asked after a single by Squeeze and he thought the title was ‘Up The Back Passage’. Trying to suppress my laughter I suggested it might be ‘Up The Junction’.

There'll be more from Graham Jones' 'Last Shop Standing' next week...

'Last Shop Standing', £12.95, is published by Proper Music Publishing Ltd., London. lastshopstanding.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas