Wednesday, January 18, 2006

20 December
Christmas Classical Music Shopping
Walk into Virgin Megastore and it's just crammed with DVD Boxsets of Doctor Who and Desperate Housewives. Oasis are snarling loudly from invisible speakers, and the place is full of middle-aged men that shop only once a year. One of them goes to walk out, his plastic Virgin bag swinging back and forth with very over-confident stride. But as he passes the detectors, the sort of high pitched, sort of low-pitched alarm decides it needs to express itself. Teri Hatcher and Billie Piper look up from there respective Box Sets tutting. The man stops and returns their stares. A thick irritated grin punctuates his smug face as he waits for some kid in a 'Virgin Megastore' T-Shirt to give him the wave of ‘I don’t think you’re a thief’.
I make my way over towards the far corner of the store, in search of some 'Classical Music' for Christmas present buying purposes. It has its own separate room. I open the door and enter, letting it slowly close behind me.
Silence. Eddie Izzard sits behind the till and nods at me as he strokes his long newly grown white beard. He looks back down at his turkey, poking it with his index finger. I pick up a candle and begin my search for 'The Best of Classical Music 2006' CD, whose title, to me, sounds just a little premature.
I cross hard stony ground for a good couple of hours. Tiring I stop to catch my breath and look around to get my bearings. "Me and Pincess Di used to come here a lot" says a voice from behind me. I turn and see a short man in his fifties wearing a big pink bola hat. He slowly lifts off his sunglasses. "You be careful here. It's not safe here." He continues, unnecessarily using the word 'here' twice in just two sentences.
"Do you know where I can find 'The Best of Classical Music 2006?" I ask hopefully.
"You don't need to know who I am." He repiles.
"I didn't ask who you.."
"I'm Elton John." And with that a single violin can be heard, slowly crying the tune of 'Candle in the Wind' round the echoey damp cavern. Elton slides his sunglasses back on. "Ahh there you are Trevor."
"Finally" comes a deeper voice, and Sir Trevor McDonald walks around wearing a Green bola to stand next to Elton. "Well that's about it for now". Elton nods then gestures me away and starts singing as I leave, Trevor shouts at Elton furiously trying to make him stop but to no avail.
"The candle burned out long ago", the last words I hear as they go out of earshot, and my tired source of light and warmth flickers for the final time. The ’Virgin Classical Music Department’ sky is totally black and I’m left in a sinister darkness. A faint white light appears on the horizon and wearily I head in its direction. Getting closer I can see it's an old Victorian looking building, a public house, Its sign blows around violently, even though I can feel only a breeze. 'The End Inn'.
I open the heavy oak door and walk in. The lighting all comes from little yellow candles and it’s so bright I have to squint to see where I going. I stumble clumsily towards the bar and manage to slide onto a stool. The music is loud; a harsh mixture of Violins and shotguns, crashing symbols and piercing strings. My eyes adjust gradually and I see that the pub is packed with solemn faces all wearing orange bolas. Playing with beer glasses full of what looks like milk, none of them speak, but sway gently to the thunderous score.
A barman sees me and walks over "Can I help you?"
"I don't know."
"Are you sure your meant to be here? I don‘t think you‘re supposed to be here yet."
"I was looking for 'The Best of Classical Music 2006'?"
I'm handed a CD. “Go quickly.”
"This says 'The Best of Classical Music 2012'??."
"Give it here." He scrambles for another CD, "There, now go. "
I turn to walk out. But patrons block my way. I turn around looking for another way out but notice everyone is now standing up, all of them holding the candles above their heads. "I told you" the barman covers his eyes as he speaks. "I can't do anything for you now".
The figure in front of me, who looks exactly like Tim Henman's Tennis career, screams "Time at the bar!" and with that they pick up their pints of milk and pour them over the candles. The room quickly fades to black and I'm left with the sound of cows milk dripping on the slate floor.
"What about the extended Licensing laws?" I shout, but a fist makes contact with my skull and I fall helplessly to the floor.
"This is a residential area" comes a voice that sounds very much like the future career of Shane Ritchie when he leaves Eastenders. "It's time for you to join us."
I hear new music, "I predict a Riot" by Kaisers invading the classical roar. I see a oblong of light as the pub door is opened. Billie Piper and Teri Hatcher are waving at me, “Quick over here!“, shouts Billie, I look up and see Donna Air holding a Vauxhall Corsa above my head. I just manage to roll out of the way as she brings it tumbling down. I push myself to my feet and run towards the light. I don't look round, just keep my eyes fixed on freedom. I make it to the doorway and trip crashing straight into World Music. The door closes loudly behind me.
I stand up, holding 'The Best of Classical Music 2006' above my head. "You might want to pay for it in there”, says an assistant pointing back behind me, “there’s a huge queue out here'
“I don't mind queuing." I reply glancing over my shoulder. That‘s classical music shopping over for another year.

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