Keith and Vivienne, the Classical Longplayer

David’s regular perambulations through the streets of Brighton were clearly ritualistic.

1. Walking into town.
2. Specialist newsagent for Gay Magazine.
3. Packets of Coffee and Tea from Robert’s shop.
4. Cds at Keith and Vivienne’s – The Classical Longplayer
5. Books at Colin Page, then Holleyman and Treacher, both in Duke Street.

Over the years, his favourite shops were closing down. When Holleyman and Treacher closed, there was then Colin Page. By the time the Classical Longplayer was closed down, David was too ill to be aware.

David came to the shop regularly and had bought a large proportion of his huge record collection there.“Keith, you know Fuck All!” was his constant cry, even when the shop was full of customers. In the later stages of David’s post-op prostate condition Keith generously provided a pit stop facility for his eccentric customer’s needs. Having agreed visitor’s rights to the loo, David disappeared down the basement steps for a worryingly long time, unaware that the cubicle was at the head of the stairs.Once David had established the practice, he would duck into the concealed cubicle, usually unbeknownst to Keith who would be aware of a sudden scuffling noise and a muffled curse.

The shop was one long corridor of display cases A to H to the left, the rest on the right, culminating in Vivaldi and Vaughan Williams by the door. Near the counter was a display unit for the new releases. On his early visits David was positively surly and terse in responses. Gradually Keith and David  relaxed, and David felt free to hold forth with his wife Vivienne  included in the banter. David realised that his power to shock generated only affection at the shop, and all gags became mutual.  For me this seemed to be a conscious  distraction from David’s unseemly habit of taking cds away on spec, to be returned if useless, to be committed to a bootleg copy if endurable, and to be purcheased if a great addition to the collection. This unusual business relationship was to the best of my knowledge implicit.

What was  the attraction of Classical Longplayer for David?  Above all he relished cavorting around to disturb the cathedralic atmosphere. Usually there were half a dozen elderly (male)  customers browsing the racks. Keith was on the phone dealing with reservations. On several occasions I was hovering near the new releases, waiting my turn when that familiar roar would be heard , “Fuck a Stoat, Chris, it’s you!”

He would then announce “I have found another composer for my Desert Island Disks.” We had been collecting composers with Dirty names, Fux, Benda, Rutter were of the company. David’s favourite was  William Rimmer whose name could be relied upon to render David helpless with laughter. Rimmer died in 1936 and David resented that they never met.   One customer behind him in the queue that day was smiling politely at references to Fux, Rutter, and the Black Dyke Mills Band. Staring nervously towards David he registered incomprehension at the name of Rimmer.

“Rimmer – William Rimmer…” David repeated to the confused, owlish customer. ”You know… RIMMER” The man was none the wiser. “You know, Rimming, Rimming. ..”  Keith seized David’s credit card with unusual ferocity, hissing through his teeth, “Drop it David, drop it.” I changed the subject to the BBC proms.

David was disappointed at his failure to shock his fellow customer but delighted at discomforting Keith and me.

It was a delight when Vivienne was in the shop with Keith. Out of the kindness of her heart, Vivienne collected David’s packets of coffee and tea on her way to work.  At the time of writing (September 2009) the shop is closed and empty. Keith and Vivienne regularly called in at the Mews outside business hours. They both came to David’s funeral.  Keith spoke of his eccentric and much loved customer at the Funeral.

“Speak up please, I can’t hear you, said Betty Mulcahy.

“I can’t. I’m shy.” said Keith reasonably.PICT0013

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