Record fairs are an interesting phenomenon I think. They come in various sizes: large (held at places like Olympia and the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham), medium-sized (Camden's Electric Ballroom, the Brighton Centre) and small (church halls and community centres in more suburban areas). I sometimes go along to the one at the St Marks Church Hall in Wimbledon: first Saturday of the month, free entry, and a carrot dangling at the end of a couple of hours trudging joylessly round the shops nearby.
I haven't yet worked out whether I am looking through the same merchandise every time I go or whether there is a slightly different selection on offer from month to month. I never seem to have problems finding something to buy though. Today about 80 per cent of it is--still--in vinyl form, about 15 per cent CDs, the rest DVDs, audio cassettes at 50p a shot and a few books. Most is pretty mainstream stuff although I'm particularly pleased to shell out for a CD by Brazilian singer Virginia Rodrigues which I've been trying to track down for a while.
I spend about an hour looking round. I see two other shoppers. Four dealers (as ever, men in their fifties/early sixties) sit at the table at the end of the room, chatting, supping tea, occasionally sending out for Chinese take-aways and of course listening to music. Some of the tracks go down particularly well, none more so than an Aretha Franklin song at various points during which all four join in, as one: "You ... make ... me ... feel ... like ... a ... natural ... WOMAN".
See you next month lads.
- VIP24.com and spinningwax.com give details of upcoming record fairs
- The record collectors' bible: er, the Record Collector