How To Have 1000 Number Ones - The Easy Way

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Sunny Afternoon

I took advantage of a sunny Saturday to take a leisurely stroll over to Horsforth, knowing that the fickle British summer might not provide another equally pleasant opportunity. My chosen route took me first to my local supermarket, the Co-op on Butcher Hill. I visit this emporium several times each week, largely to purchase booze and fags, but had never before ventured any further up this particular road. I was delighted to discover, not 50 yards away, the St Vincent's shop, a local charity store which until this point I had been unaware of. Sadly the shop was closed (on a Saturday afternoon? What’s wrong with these people?) but I vowed to return.

I enjoyed the rest of my walk, through largely unfamiliar territory, including an unexpected road through an urban forest, and duly arrived in Horsforth. It is difficult to say with any certainty when I arrived in Horsforth. It is a vaguely defined and sprawling area, but if it has a centre then it is Town Street, which was my ultimate destination.

This was a strategic choice. Horsforth is similar to Headingley, being a relatively well-to-do suburb, though it lacks the student influence, and as usual with this type of location, there are a good number of charity shops. These are concentrated in Town Street, five of them in all, within a weak stone’s throw of one another*.

My first stop was the Cancer Research shop. In hindsight I should perhaps have taken a quick rest first, but in my eagerness I headed straight inside and proceeded to drip sweat over a large portion of the interior. Despite being almost overcome by heat I managed to locate a couple of boxes of CDs and began my hunt.

My first find was a compilation entitled, appropriately enough, ‘Sunny Afternoon – The Sound Of The 60’s Part 5’. Suppressing my rage at the butcher’s apostrophe, I investigated the track listing to calculate whether this was worth the £1.50 asking price, and decided to buy it on the strength of three Number Ones – The Kinks’ Sunny Afternoon, unsurprisingly, Joe Cocker’s definitive version of With A Little Help From My Friends and A Whiter Shade Of Pale by Procol Harum. A Whiter Shade Of Pale, the 234th Number One, is one of those records that regularly crops up on TV nostalgia programs as one of the greatest singles of all time, usually somewhere around number 10. I can’t see it myself, but it is a good record and a nice addition to the collection.

There were a few CD singles there too, including two of the most hideous monstrosities known to man – the Dunblane record Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door/Throw These Guns Away and Cliff Richard’s Millennium Prayer. Both were released in aid of various children’s charities, but hearing either of them makes me want to punch people indiscriminately, so I’m not convinced they’ve really done the children any favours.

I also found the 725th Number One, Blur’s Country House, winner of one of the most famously hyped chart battles when it beat Oasis’s ‘Roll With It’ to the top spot in 1995. Unfortunately the disc here was the second part of one of those irritating 2-CD sets, and contained only a live version of the song (and a rather poor one at that), but I judged it better than nothing and snapped it up.

In conversation with the shop’s proprietor I happened to mention, partly by way of apology for my excessive perspiration, my summer stroll. I was greeted with a reaction somewhere between horror and amazement at this feat of endurance. The walk had only taken 45 minutes or so, and I wasn’t exactly hurrying, so I hadn’t really considered it a particularly taxing trek, even in this heat. I’m sure I must be the only person left in Britain who walks anywhere at all these days.

Having exhausted my cash reserves I stopped off at a nearby cash machine, which proceeded to swallow my bank card for no apparent reason. Luckily I have a second bank account and therefore another card, otherwise I would have been forced to abandon the Horsforth expedition when it had barely begun. Just to be on the safe side, I made my second attempt at withdrawal from a different machine, which thankfully behaved as it ought to. On my return I noticed with a little irritation that a customer at the original machine had managed to perform their transaction without any difficulty, but with cash in my pocket I was at least able to proceed.

The remaining shops were less productive than the first, but I did manage to accrue a collection of 3 Westlife CD singles (Queen Of My Heart, I Have A Dream/Seasons In The Sun and If I Let You Go), two of which also included an invitation to subscribe to the Westlife mailing list. I declined this kind offer.

I also found a 7” of Robin Beck’s First Time, one of two Number One singles stemming from Coca-Cola adverts**, and a copy of the 421st chart-topper, Matchstalk Men & Matchstalk Cats & Dogs (Lowry’s Song) by one-hit wonders Brian & Michael (Burke & Jerk). There was no picture sleeve, and on closer inspection I discovered that the previous owner had ingeniously crafted a makeshift sleeve out of wallpaper. This was, sadly, a rather unpleasant floral design rather than a Lowry-style industrial vignette, but nevertheless an admirable effort.

As well as charity shops, Town Street is also blessed with a number of pubs in which the dedicated record-collector can wind down following a gruelling bargain-hunt. I eventually retired to a table outside the King’s Arms for a cooling pint and a quick inspection of my acquisitions in the fading sun. I reflected that this was the first time I had introduced a celebratory drink into one of my Number One shopping trips, and as I prepared myself for another marathon hike back across North Leeds I made a promise to myself to do this more often.

* I didn’t test this theory, as I didn’t want to cause injury to pedestrians or shop-fronts, and besides I couldn’t find a stone.
** The other is probably more famous, so I won’t need to tell you what it is.


  • The use of an apostrophe when forming the plural of a number is a matter of taste. I would be more affronted by the implication that there was only a single sound during the decade in question.

    I'm put in mind of Chris Morris:

    MORRIS: The 60's, and we're pushed for time - can you sum them up in a word?
    MILLS: No.
    MORRIS: A sound?
    MILLS: Wooouuoaaaahhhh.
    MORRIS: Spartacus, thank you. Alan. Sport.

    By Anonymous Steven, at 7/25/2005 6:09 am  

  • I agree that it is a matter of taste, in that it's up to the writer to choose whether they want to be correct or not.

    As for the Sound of the 60s, they do say that if you can remember it, you weren't there, so maybe that's where the confusion stems from.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 7/25/2005 1:13 pm  

  • I disagree, there are legitimate instances in which an apostrophe can be correctly used in the formation of a plural, no if's, no but's.

    By Anonymous Steven, at 7/26/2005 2:06 am  

  • ... although I do wonder whether it could ever be considered correct to refer to "Wooouuoaaaahhhh" as "The 60's' sound"?

    By Anonymous Steven, at 7/26/2005 2:10 am  

  • Jim Morrison used it a few times.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 7/26/2005 4:10 am  

  • I can think of no legitimate instances when an apostophe would be used to form a plural, except to annoy people like Joe and me.

    By Anonymous David, at 8/03/2005 9:38 am  

  • I quite like to use apostrophes in this way, even if it is just to cause mild annoyance to others :-)

    Dave in Lancs

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/05/2005 11:00 pm  

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