Thirty Thousand Streets

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hyper Hyper

A few years ago whilst living in Heaton Moor, my good old buddy Will came up to stay, for what turned out to be a long boozy weekend (these being in the days before he hopped on the wagon and left the rest of us rolling pie-eyed in the streets like inhabitants of a Hogarth etching).

On the Sunday, prior to his departure, I took him and our hangovers up to the Holdsworth Mill in Reddish, where on the Fourth Floor, a strange agglomeration of traders had set up shops trading mainly in knick-knacks, gew gaws, and the like. There were shops selling horsey things (bridles and tackle, saddles and such), shops selling pet food, shops selling second hand CDs and records. One enterprise was manned by a a rotund, mustachioed, opera singing eccentric, who claimed to have been firebombed out of Gorton for refusing to pay protection money. He was undertaking the retail of a vast mine of virtually worthless comics and books (though I did find Moebius's take on the Silver Surfer in there). All the shops were housed in fake shop fronts, in a fake self contained 'village' within a floor of the mill. All sold utter tat (by and large second hand), and I, inveterate lover of bric-a-brac as I am, was mesmerised! (Will, less so. He later confessed he hated it). The entire setup had the feeling of some strange post apocalyptic trading outpost, where the denizens of the new world elevate the ephemera of the last to near religious status.

I only mention this because a similarly shabby business model seems to be appearing in London. First it was 'Hyper Hyper', breakfasting in the ruins of Zavvi's – and previous to them of course Virgin's – megastore on Oxford street (I haven't been in, but half the tat flogged in the concessions within looks like it belongs on the market in Eastenders).

And yesterday, whilst on a mission into town, I was surprised when I walked past Burberry's old headquarters on the Strand, to see that someone has rented out the old space to flog racks and racks of old Gola and Lonsdale gear, beneath the antique branded clock that hangs outside

These particular premises were not recently a shop, and the scheme for the retailer to consolidate all its offices into one mega-office at Horseferry House required their abandonment of this location like the Corleone's did their ranch at the beginning of The Godfather Part III – but regardless of what you think of them, and their plaid, it looks pretty folorn and shabby now, like it belongs in The Arndale Centre in Manchester.

After this I went to check out the fire damage from the blaze on Dean Street on Friday. That was pretty surreal for me because at the time, despite being only two streets away, I was completely unaware of it happening, possibly due to being plugged into a Mac frantically retouching, whilst submerged in a Larry Heard mix. I stepped out of work at Seven O'Clock to find vast swathes of Soho cordoned off, and Police and Firefighters everywhere. "Oh no" I thought, "What's happened". Thankfully ('thankfully') it was only a fire, though London's probably had enough of those the last fortnight. Not much to see, though, as the street was still cordoned off in front of Quo Vadis restaurant, and the building clad in plastic sheeting.

I then went and bought a CD (the Martyn album, very nice) and went and looked at some shoes on sale. Predictably, nothing I wanted was in my size.

I'm working with estate agents today. I looked out the window this morning and thought 'shorts'. Having got to town, I'm now thinking 'umbrella'.


Zeno Cosini said...

One other thing these two venues have got in common are that I've worked in both of them. In about 1995 I was sent by Securicor to clean out two large groundfloor rooms at Holdsworth Mill - charmless experience. Then in 1998 I worked putting alarm-tag "safers" on CD on the top floor of what was then the Virgin Megastore. FUN FACT!

The Eyechild said...

Fun fact indeed. Sadly though, even your efforts safeguarding Virgin 'gainst theft could immure them from the wider malaise of online piracy, and ultimately, the collapse of high street music retail :(