Dear Reader: Supporting HMV + speaking out on Brexit

The power of record shops - Yorkshire band The Cribs at an in-store appearance at HMV.
The power of record shops - Yorkshire band The Cribs at an in-store appearance at HMV.

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

The first time I stepped inside a record shop as a ten-year-old was pure magic.

So news of music and movie retail giant HMV’s latest financial problems over the festive period felt a bit like hearing bad news about a close family friend.

To be realistic, it’s possible to view CDs and DVDs as just ‘things’, bits of plastic that have become outdated and outmoded in an era of streaming and downloads.

Whether you’re a fan of Alfie Boe or Arctic Monkeys, I’d argue record shops still play a unique role even now.
When I walk through the doors of Harrogate’s HMV store in the Victoria Shopping Centre I still get the same sense of anticipation I first got as a young boy eager to get his hands on the red-sleeved The Beatles 1962-66 album.

The difference between a public library and a record shop is slim in some ways.
Both are a hub of ideas, information and inspiration.

What you intend to buy when you walk into a record shop in may not always be what you walk out with.
This music fan hopes sincerely HMV navigates the troubles of these times.

The more the media and politicians talk about Brexit in public, the less people seem to talk about it in daily life.

It’s hardly surprising when the issue is so bitterly divisive, showing no respect for friendships or family ties.
Brexit seems to have unleashed forces that might have been better left unleashed.

I’m not sure the running coverage on an almost daily basis has done any of us any good either.
At one point before Christmas, this newspaper decided it might be a good idea to approach every MP in our circulation area to ask where they stood on the PM’s current Brexit deal.
By the time we managed to get in touch with them all, the political situation at Westminster had already moved on again.

What a difference from when the rocky road to Brexit began less than three years ago.
At the time of the referendum just two years ago, I felt able to say in print what my views were on the subject with little fear.
Not any more.

The festive season did seem to result in a halt to hostilities, like that game of football in no man’s land during the First World War.
But the arrival of 2019 will undoubtedly see the revival of the same old arguments.

I prefer cold facts to hot opinions so I will simply bring up two transport-related incidents from a recent holiday I enjoyed in northern Italy, one involving a train, the other a plane.
In the case of the latter, the railway journey took my train into Swiss territory on the way from Milan to Lake Como for what must have been no more than five minutes at most.
I only noticed when armed border guards hopped on board to check all our passports.

In the case of the latter, on the return flight at Milan airport I was confronted by two queues.
One for non-EU citizens long and slow moving. The other for EU citizens short and fast flowing.

Harrogate Advertiser's top 5 local music of 2018