My urge to write this posting emerged unexpectedly today (5 May 2016) after an emergency trip to the Retro Shop to try to find an appropriate pair of trousers for a 1960’s party.
Result: success, before you ask. Bright red, before you follow-up with the obvious next question.
The Retro Shop is at 28 Pembridge Road and the likely source of the party trousers was the basement of that shop. Despite its change of purpose within the “Exchange Empire”, I recognised the space immediately as the old bargain basement of Record and Tape Exchange. I inhabited that basement a great deal in my youth. Initially and several times subsequently, those visits were with Paul Deacon.
It was probably the pull of Record and Tape Exchange and my resulting familiarity with Notting Hill Gate that drew me to the neighbourhood in the late 1980s when ready to find my own place. With the benefit of hindsight, a most fortuitous draw.
But when did those visits start? I remember visits to The Slipped Disc in Clapham Junction with Paul perhaps as early as 1976 and certainly 1977. I’ll write that up separately once I have researched it.
But it isn’t until 1978 that I mention Record and Tape Exchange in my diary. 29 April 1978 to be precise.
Saturday 29 April – went to Jumbly’s, Record Exchange & Portobello with Paul.
Paul might remember what Jumbly’s is/was – I certainly don’t.
But I think our first attempt to go to Notting Hill Gate was a couple of weeks earlier during the school holidays. This entry from 12 April has got my brain ticking.
Wednesday 12 April – went out with Paul – bit of a disaster.
I have a vague memory of a day out with Paul when we were attempting to see Portobello and these second hand record shops we’d heard about, but somehow we got hopelessly lost and ended up wandering aimlessly around West Kensington and Olympia, until we returned home exhausted and unsatisfied. Paul might be able to fill in the details.
At the time I probably thought that any blame for such a “disaster” must rest with Paul. But nearly forty years subsequent experience of my personal geographical challenges suggests that the fault must have been at least as much, if not more, mine. The sat nav might have been invented just for me.
One more intriguing diary entry a few months later, but not (I believe) to do with Paul:
Saturday 29 July 1978 – Lazy day. Went to Record and Tape Exchange,
Very pithy. Doesn’t reveal much at all. I am pretty sure this must have been the day that I went up to Notting Hill Gate with a young lady known as Fuzz, with whom I’d had a gentle squeeze at Anil & Anita Biltoo’s party a couple of weeks before. This visit was especially memorable because it was a hot summer day and Fuzz became overwhelmed by the mustiness and dustiness of that basement, fainted, banged her head and needed to be revived by worried staff in the shop.
But apart from that, Mr Harris, how was your hot date?
I’m going to guess that I hadn’t been entirely straightforward with my parents (in particular my mum) with all the details of where I was going/had been and with whom, hence the pithy entry in the diary.
I am delighted to report that health and safety has improved a little at the 28 Pembridge Road basement in the past 38 years. Today it still had a musty, dusty atmosphere, but it was much mitigated by the back door being open to let in some fresh air.
Meanwhile, to support the comment below (triggered by a delightful Facebook message exchange with Paul) – here is the first page of my Record and Tape Exchange Transaction notes – there are pages and pages of them gathering dust in a file under the bed: