Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Last Christmas I took time out to visit Alan's Records of East Finchley London. It took a miserable Northern Line tube journey and a bitterly cold twenty minute walk to find out that Alan was infact shut for the holidays. To pour salt into the wound Alan also had a half price sale on all stock starting the day I had to return to work. Cheers Alan.

The story should end there, but it doesn't.

You see, Bob Stanley of the once truly great Saint Etienne claims that 'Alan's' is his favorite record shop and as much as Mr. Stanley has something of a fondness for the twee I trust his taste in record shops on the strength of the first two Saint Etienne albums alone. This in mind a return trip to East Finchley had been at the back of my mind ever since the festive period. So last Friday I arranged to meet a friend outside 'Alan's' at 10.00am sharp. I arrived slightly late, but not late enough. The sign on the door reads 'Open 11.30ish'.


So I wait patiently, kill my time on the sparce East Finchley high street, first with a bike shop, then a fried breakfast, a book shop and again the bike shop. My record chiseling friend arrived and we waited. 11.30 came and went.


I called Alan and left a message on his answering phone, he called me back and assured me he would arrive no later than 12.15. Another walk to kill time and a cake shop thrown in for good measure. My friend tried to convince me that waiting much longer might perhaps be the behavior of a dribbling fucktard. Regardless at 12.30 we returned to the shop. The shutters were still down.


A friendly old man with a matted comb over passed us.

'Are you waiting for Alan? He won't be here 'til one.'

With that he chuckled and scampered off in the direction of the petrol station. I think it was partly due to the 'Record Collector of Sheffield' incident of last month, whatever the reason, I was now locked in a battle of wills with Alan. I would not leave until I had seen the inside of his fucking shop. Another phone call. He was stuck in traffic and it was now looking at being 1.15 before he would get here.

By this point we had made the green paint peeled park bench that sat across the road from the record shop our second home. In situations such as these it is impossible to avoid self reflection. What the fuck was I doing here? seriously? I am 35, I am in London and I could be quite literally doing anything legal or otherwise with this very precious time. As it is I am sat on a park bench by a main road in East Finchley staring at the grey and menacing shutters of a record shop, willing them to magically open. Where had it all gone wrong?


Another walk and by 1.15 Alan had arrived. His shop is an ungodly mess with racks of records quite literally up to the ceiling. At first glance there seemed to be zero quality control but on closer inspection the good stuff was there. Not mountains of it. The mountains were of shit, but every now and again, something pretty good peppered the walls and racks. The impression that I get is that the good stuff comes and goes very quickly while the bulging piles of records that take up the majority of the store only really get dented at sale time.

Alan was friendly enough, apologising for his lateness, he didn't need to, it was me that had made me wait three and a half hours for a record shop to open not him. He even offered us a cup of tea.

So I picked up a couple of bits and pieces, the below, a copy of DOME 2 and the first MANDINGO album, but had it really been worth my time, is any of it worth my time? Probably not. The one possitive that I take away from what would be seen by most (and even by me) as a two entire morning wasted, is that I never have to return. I can tick Alan's off my list, anyway, cheers for that Bob Stanley.

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