Record Duggie Chop's into, right this moment:

Record Duggie Chop's into, right at this moment: Muswell Hillbillies - The Kinks (1971)

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Sunday, 15 November 2009

Welcome! Torpid Emancipator

So, me and Duggie leave the river bank for a while. When you start talking to sticklebacks, you know it's time for a break.

"Let's go down the Torpid one," says Duggie. For years, going to the 'Torpid one' was the default setting for what you did when you'd finished your homework, or wanted to hang-out with your mates, or split up with a girlfriend - or even when you just wanted to buy a record.

The 'Torpid Emancipator', best record shop in this, or any, town. But it's more than just a record shop. It's a way of life. It's got recording studios, a cafe, a musical instrument department. And it's totally independent.

Situated in a crumbling Victorian building, as ornate as a wedding cake with pastel stucco'd facade, shedding flakes of plaster like dandruff. As semi-derelict as an occupied squat, with an 'unsavoury' crowd [so says the local rag: The Bugle'] always in attendance.

In the '70s, the shop was home to the 'Sound of Torpidity', a local (and national) prog rock movement, featuring enduring festival rockers, like 'Hair Tom', all from around the local area.

Nowadays, Me and Duggie notice the age of the kids that hang around outside, as they've done for generations. It's like the cliche about coppers getting younger, "I mean, we never looked like that when we used to slope off school to listen to the charts come out were we? We were so mature," says Duggie, as we walk past a particularly callow youth blowing a pink bubble gum bubble, which snaps - pop! - in Duggie's ear.

Inside, racks of CDs have replaced the racks of Albums of our youth, and the growing video games area is slowly encroaching on the music area, taking away valuable floorspace. But the place is full of kids twanging guitars - or looking like they intend to twang guitars, one day. There's still an anything goes, bohemian, feel about the place - not that common in our town. Let's face it, the place is a flamin' sanctuary.

Not many women though, except hanging around the studios, although I did see Nels, the female bass player from Hair Tom, browsing through some second-hand LPs a few weeks ago.

One of the highlights of a visit to the Torpid Emancipator is meeting owner - and founder - Richard, Ricky, Fleese. Fleesey is an aging hippy in every sense of the word. Yet as sharp as a tack.

Reminds me of the time I visited Glastonbury [the town not the festival] and was taken by the new-age atmosphere, but couldn't get away from the fact that the place was occupied by hippies with cash registers.

That's Fleesey - a hippy with a cash register. total entrepreneur, he created the vibe that made and still makes the crumbling glory of the Torpid one, THE place to be. And he seems to be able to float through the generations like a hippified Muhammed Ali skipping round the ring. More about him later.

"Hey," says Duggie, selecting a chunky looking CD package from the shelf, " 'Tubular Bells', Mike Oldfield. There's 3 CDs in here, 2009 remixes and that."

Me and Duggie used to listen to 'Tubular Bells' on tape in Duggie's first car, a clapped out Fiat 126. [Analogue Tapeheads Fact: 'Tubular Bells' didn't fit on one side of a C90, so there was an annoying break near the end - or you had loads of hissing 'silent' tape at the end of each side of a C60] We could hardly hear it above the din of the tiny 600cc engine clattering away.

I think I sense a Duggie 'post' coming up, he's got that nostalgic look in his eyes.

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