How To Have 1000 Number Ones - The Easy Way

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Two Little Boys

I had been with my bandmate Seb to Garforth to collect my Roland XP-10 keyboard, which had been in for repair. Having completed our Official Band Business, Seb suggested we visit his friend Clem to take a look at his keyboard.

It is rare that I pass up an opportunity to tinkle on someone’s ivories, so I agreed and we drove to Clem’s flat. We arrived to find the place in utter chaos, as Clem was in the process of re-organising every single one of his possessions, which were therefore strewn wildly on floors, chairs and tables. Fortunately it took little effort for him to clear a space big enough for us to sit down.

The clutter was made up largely of ancient hi-fi and audio equipment, in varying states of repair. Clem, it transpired, was a retro enthusiast and a collector of the gear that so many people are keen to dispose of. His keyboard fitted into this obsession, a bright red monster, an electronic organ which I estimated must have been made in the early eighties. Due to the surrounding chaos we were unfortunately not able to locate its power cable, so I didn’t get to play, but after hearing about its rather temperamental behaviour I was at least able to recommend the services of Paul Theakston, the Garforth engineer who had fixed my own instrument.

Clem also turned out to be a keen record collector and was interested to hear about my mission to locate 1000 Number One singles. He revealed a nascent ambition to run a second-hand record shop, already with plans of expanding into alternative markets. I imagined a life lived as if inspired by ‘High Fidelity’ and realised that I could not compete with this. The man before me was a mega-collector.

The one quality that his collecting lacked and mine had was focus. He seemed to admire my ability to concentrate my efforts on a finite number of records. Thinking upon this led him to consider the possibility of purchasing all of the records that had ever stalled at Number Two. I, of course, encouraged him in this pursuit, if only so that I could in future point out that I wasn’t the only one to undertake such a ridiculous endeavour.

We discussed this plan in some depth, and the more we talked the more serious he appeared to become about taking on the challenge. He was undaunted when I told him that I had considered attempting the task myself, as a follow-up to my current quest, but had dismissed the thought upon realising that spending two years looking for rubbish records was quite enough for anyone.

The conversation felt like it was turning into a pact, with an element of friendly rivalry. Clem stood up to rummage through a nearby box of records and pulled out a copy of Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley & His Comets. He had only recently acquired the 39th Number One, but nevertheless presented it to me as a gift.

I wasn’t sure that he realised how much joy this gave me, but I knew that if he went ahead with his plan, he would soon find out. I left having gained a record and a friend.


  • Is the answer "Bring your Daughter to the Slaughter"?

    By Anonymous Steven, at 3/15/2006 11:21 pm  

  • Yeah, why not.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 3/15/2006 11:49 pm  

  • I know neither Clem or Seb - how dare you make friends in my absence. Interestingly, today is the 5th anniversary of my arrival in Australia.

    Fittingly, I am spending it in Auckland.

    By Anonymous Nik, at 3/16/2006 11:32 am  

  • At least Clem's collection will contain Vienna by Ultravox, which despite your previous dismissal, is a fine record and much better that Joe Dolce.

    Didn't Dan Webb embark on collecting every record ever?

    Please - no more information about the man that fixes your instrument.

    By Anonymous Nik, at 3/16/2006 11:36 am  

  • Happy anniversary Nik.

    Jon Kutner is the one collecting every record ever. I think Dan should too though. In fact I think he should collect everything in the world.

    You'll be glad of my recommendation when you need to have your own instrument fixed.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 3/16/2006 12:10 pm  

  • I already collect number ones and have started number twos owning most of the eighties onwards anyway, but I've no intention of collecting every record ever as I only have a 'box room' aptly filled with boxes!

    By Anonymous Dan Webb, at 4/02/2006 5:28 pm  

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