Last days of consumerism?

I was walking around the west end yesterday and it struck me how much recession and winter suits London. For the first time in decades London feels once again like the city I knew as a teenager in the 1970s. It was wet and everything looked dirty and shitty, not much snow left but plenty of muck where the white stuff had melted. I dived into Zavvi coz being in shops that are closing down grooves me. This particular retail chain was never very well stocked, not even the ‘superstore’ I checked out on the corner of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, and not even when it was called Virgin Records. My ever dimmer recollections are that the Virgin store was originally on New Oxford Street but I can’t remember when it moved to the present currently being closed down site. I think Forbidden Planet was on Denmark Street at that time. But then back in the 1970s I preferred to spend my loot at the Rock On Record Stall in the long ago vanished Soho Market, or at Dark They Were And Golden Eyed in St Annes Court. Although actually what I really dug was to get a cup of tea in The Court Cafe, then head round the corner to the Marquee Club on Wardour Street to catch bands like Neon Hearts, The Vibrators, Goria Mundi, The Drones and Ultravox – with DJ Jerry Floyd at the decks before the bands of course!
Anyway, back to the noughties and Zavvi. I’m enjoying watching this chain shut a few stores at a time. I haven’t seen any closed Zavvi stores yet, the only two I pass with any regularity are the ‘megastore’ on the corner of Oxford Street and the small branch on Bishopsgate. I heard a report on the radio, possibly at the beginning of the week, saying another 15 Zavvi stores had been closed nationally that day; but I’ve yet to savour the treat of seeing one of them boarded up. Since the Bishopsgate branch is a dead loss, hopefully I won’t have to wait long to see that one stripped of its fittings. In its window on Tuesday there was a sign saying they had new stock in store, and this was true but it turned out to be multiple copies of a handful of bestselling DVDs and games. And the discounts aren’t great either: 25% off CDs, DVDs and games; 50% off books and other merchandise. So if there was something you actually wanted to buy you’d almost certainly be able to get it cheaper online. There isn’t much worth purloining in the Oxford Street branch of Zavvi either, but the way it is being run down really sends me. Parts of the top floor and the basement have been shut off, in fact every time I go in there is less publicly accessible space. Likewise, on the ground and first floor the merchandise is increasingly spread out. While I was there yesterday they were playing old Motown hits like Nowhere To Run and those northern soul ‘obscurities’ that were used on Kentucky Fried Chicken adverts a few years ago; i.e. Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) by Frank Wilson. Nice!
So to sum up, recession is a groove sensation and it will be even better if this is the one that proves fatal for capitalism! So kids, it’s time to get Dancing In The Streets…
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by K Mail on 2009-02-07 11:51:58 +0000

Shop closures are like such a groove sensation, but they can’t compete with the likes of Jerry Floyd on the deck (and I’m sure it was only one deck) in the Marquee back in the day!

Comment by The Inauthentic Asim Butt on 2009-02-07 12:52:04 +0000

Gonna shake a tail feather and shoot it till we run… tell ’em about the end of commodification baby!

Comment by The Nicolas Bourriaud Bot on 2009-02-07 13:31:05 +0000

I’ve been ingesting this rarely heard of weight loss pill in my diet and I thought I would show everyone my results. I heard about this product through a co-worker and I ended up ordering a trial and started seeing results instantly. I could not believe I had actually shed 25 pounds in 2.5 months simply by taking this supplement. If you are interested they offer a free trial, check it out by clicking your fingers!

Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2009-02-07 13:44:46 +0000

I heard on Friday morning that the Zavvis in York and Sheffield were closing… no bargains to be had though ’cause they were closed immediately and didn’t open for business on Friday. Ordinarily I’d have felt a bit miffed, but they’d had fuck all in stock I’d wanted anyway.
Anyway, it does mean I’m able to report that a closed Zavvi looks pretty much like any other closed stores, of which there’s an abundance round here. Hey ho.

Comment by Oniomania on 2009-02-07 14:06:39 +0000

  1. Do you hit the shops more than once a week?
  2. Do you feel you’ve failed in some way if you come back from shopping empty-handed?
  3. And have you ever actually come home from shopping empty-handed?
  4. Have you ever said the words ‘what, this old thing – I’ve had it for ages’ when you know very well it’s fresh from the shops.
  5. Have you ever sneaked new purchases into the house to keep your boyfriend/flatmate/parents from knowing you’d been splashing the cash again?

Comment by Msmarmitelover on 2009-02-07 15:26:55 +0000

Sneaking out from The Underground restaurant to comment on your blog post which I haven’t even read yet.
Need a foot rub.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-02-07 18:52:20 +0000

Underground restaurants seems to be the way it’s going…. but go easy on those feet… coffee@whitecrossstreet has closed, and I suppose the whole chain although I haven’t checked. A shame but shops and cafes closing is ultimately good, and inevitable that some I like will go in the process… I’d go in coffee@whitecrossstreet with my friend Gabrielle if I met her out of her work just down the road… the coffee was great as was ambience, and I particularly liked the double shitter… although the food was rubbish and best avoided…. unlike your underground restaurant… yeah the ten quid ordinary sounds pretty good, even if getting an eighteen pence ordinary was really splashing out at the end of the sixteenth century, that’s capitalist inflation for you!

Comment by Gracie Cassidy on 2009-02-07 20:17:19 +0000

In 1993, the University of Oxford did a study to see why the head of a man’s penis was larger than the shaft. After one year and £80,000.00 in research grants, they concluded that the reason the head was larger than the shaft was to give the man more pleasure during sex.
After the study was published, the University of Cambridge decided to double check this research. After 3 years of study during which they spent £250,000.00 of grant money, they concluded that the reason was to give the woman more pleasure during sex.
Greenwich Univeristy in south London, unsatisfied with these findings, conducted their own study. After 2 days and at a cost of only £4.99, they concluded that it was to keep a man’s hand from flying off and hitting him in the forehead.

Comment by The Grinning Reaper on 2009-02-07 21:04:20 +0000

Zavvi had been planning to close three stores prior to entering administration because their leases were up. It was revealed that 69 out of 120 staff had been made redundant at the company’s head office.] The administrators continued to close 22 of the firm’s stores on 8 January 2009, resulting in the loss of 178 jobs. This left a total of 92 stores. On 14 January it was announced that a further 18 stores would close (leaving just over 70 stores), at a cost of 353 jobs. One of their flagship stores in Piccadilly, London was one of the 18 stores to close. The same day, 14 stores were sold to HMV. This left a company portfolio of 68 stores (63 in the UK and 5 in Ireland). On 20 January Zavvi Athlone was closed reducing the stores of Zavvi Ireland to 4. On 29 January Ernst & Young revealed a further 15 UK stores have closed leaving 48 UK stores still trading, with 295 jobs being lost. The administrators said at the time that there was no formal closure plan for the entire store network. On 5 February, a further 17 UK stores closed, together with two Irish stores leaving a total of 267 employees redundant and 33 (31 UK & 2 ROI) stores left within the company portfolio.

Comment by Díre McCain on 2009-02-07 21:12:51 +0000

Ce n’est pas moi…

Comment by The Happy Shopper on 2009-02-07 21:28:37 +0000

For those that missed it, here is the discussion of the coffee@ closures from chowhound.
London Coffee@ chain – closed? Just wondering if anyone on here knows what’s happened to my favourite coffee shop – Coffee@ – we went today to the one on Goswell Road and it was closed, so we wandered to the Whitecross St one and I was horrified to see it was closed too!!!! Anyone know what’s happened? Where am I going to chill out and read the Sunday papers now? Help!
iheartcupcakes Jan 24, 2009 10:35AM

  1. I think it’s gone into administration, the branch on Tower Bridge Road is also closed. Seems the recession is starting to make itself felt.
    babybat Jan 24, 2009 12:27PM
  2. Oh bum! Such a shame, this was my favourite place to chill out with a coffee, and the staff were really nice as well. Thanks for letting me know though – I had planned to go to Brick Lane today to check if their 2 stores were closed but have come down with a stinking cold so didn’t make it.
    iheartcupcakes Jan 25, 2009 09:03AM
  3. The sign on the door of Coffee@Bermondsey said that they had a burst water mains.
    limster Jan 25, 2009 10:59AM
  4. I was on Bermondsey Street on Friday and saw the aforementioned sign. I got the bus to Liverpool Street where I should have got a coffee at Taylor St but decided I would plough on and walk to Whitecross Street. The branch there was “Closed For Maintenance”. Disappointingly the burrito stall wasn’t there nor the stall selling magazines for a quid. Fed up and soaked I walked back to the Wetherspoons on Old Street and downed a few pints of Double Stout.
    debord Jan 25, 2009 11:32AM
  5. There was no sign in Whitecross yesterday, nor at Goswell Road. They both looked like they’d just been left – there were empty bottles etc on the tables in Whitecross. I may wander up there this week in my lunchhour to see if theres anything happening there.
    iheartcupcakes Jan 25, 2009 02:13PM
  6. The (original?) Coffee@Brick Lane shop was still open for business as usual when I walked past it on Sunday around noon. It was quite busy too.
    raistlyn Jan 28, 2009 02:36AM
  7. I think the original was Coffee@Bermondsey. The one @Goswell Rd had a sign saying “closed for refurbishment” or something like that a few days ago… It was my source of daily coffee!!! The one at Whitecross St was closed too two days ago when I walked by.
    felizald Jan 28, 2009 05:33AM
  8. We didn’t see a sign but perhaps we missed it as we were so disappointed! I will have a pop by Whitecross 2moro if I get a chance to check it out – maybe someone at the market’ll know what happened! Thanks to all that replied -looks like I’ll be going to Brick Lane at weekends for coffee!
    iheartcupcakes Jan 28, 2009 05:37AM
  9. Went bankrupt—shame.
    bagelfairy Jan 29, 2009 11:20AM
  10. Both on brick lane were closed yesterday. The one between the beigel shops looked like they just walked out and locked up. There were even cartons of fresh milk on the floor.
    relizabeth Feb 02, 2009 08:00AM
  11. Thats what the Whitecross one looked like – there were bottles of water etc on the table. thanks for the update!
    iheartcupcakes Feb 02, 2009 11:44AM
  12. Coffee@Bermondsey was open today. Got a drink there.
    limster Jan 29, 2009 12:35PM
  13. Goswell and WhiteCross were both still closed on Sunday Feb 1st. FYI, there actually was some work being done in the Goswell one on Wednesday so there is still hope. still no sign in Whitecross’s windows.
    chloe254 Feb 02, 2009 02:45AM
  14. Oh that’s a good sign! I keep meaning to get up there but work last week was so hectic I couldn’t take a long lunch and then today I had a “snow day”! I do wonder why they didn’t have a website- would help a lot!
    iheartcupcakes Feb 02, 2009 11:45AM
  15. The 2 Coffee@’s on Brick Lane are also shut. The sign has been taken down on one and the other looks like people have just upped and left… weird… It’s the only coffee place I used to go to and I love it. I wish we knew why? It must be the recession… I hope they don’t get taken over by Starbucks!!!!!
    jhm206 Feb 04, 2009 03:54AM

Comment by Riot Grrrl on 2009-02-07 22:35:37 +0000

Loot Asda! Burn Barratts!

Comment by Bunny on 2009-02-08 00:08:05 +0000

Zavvi on Edinburgh’s Prince’s Street closed before xmas.

Comment by TV Eye on 2009-02-08 01:45:30 +0000

Into the Future
Yeah Yeah Yeah
TV Eye

Comment by TV Eye on 2009-02-08 01:53:37 +0000

1977 : ripped and torn 1950’s suit jacket, drain pipe jeans, hand dyed paint spattered black t shirt, teddy boy brothel creepers,early diy punk 45’s , Prince Far I “Heavy Manners” records,and a scratched MC5 record. Nasty looks and sneers from the big collar, feather haircut and flares crowd, and disapproving “holier than thou” condescending glances from the orthodox progressive rock crowd, as they look at you in the record store with their Uriah Heep records under their arms. “What do record have there man? Johhny Moped? Who’s he? Whips and furs? No Fun? Satalite? Don’t like the sound of that! Haven’t you heard the new Lynyrd Skynkrd record? They can reallly play man, much better than those punks”

Comment by Msmarmitelover on 2009-02-08 10:56:45 +0000

When I was a kid I used to set up shop in my bedroom doorway, waiting for customers (only likely passing trade my brother, my sister and my parents and my dad was out at work all day), selling bits and pieces from my bedroom.
Maybe we can start doing that? Setting up shop from our front doors?

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-02-08 11:26:19 +0000

Back to yard sales I guess…..

Comment by Recession Lover on 2009-02-08 20:39:29 +0000

Can’t we bring back the three day week? Or even improve on it by having a two or one or no day week?

Comment by Little Leota on 2009-02-08 22:20:33 +0000

Hurry back! Hurry back! Be sure to bring your death certificate, if you decide to join us.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-02-09 01:53:26 +0000

Punk is dead and we are all post-modern zombies! It’s a groove sensation!

Comment by TV Eye on 2009-02-09 04:30:47 +0000

Comment by TV Eye on 2009-02-09 05:47:06 +0000

That sounds very good. What’s your view of Cromwell? I have been reading a lot of British history too recently. I find Peter Ackroyd is a good popular writer on all matters English who also has significant depth, knowledge and academic credentials too — I am currently reading his account of John Dee , aswell as “The Queen’s Conjurer”, Benjamin Wooley’s biography of Dee. I also recently completed “After the Victorians” which is AN Wilson’s elegy to England, and his account of how the British Empire/Britain’s self image and essential identity collapsed and how USA ( sadly ) then took up the reigns of world leadership after WW2 — Wilson highlights Britain’s vast over spending and rash exhaustion of their own power in that period as the partial cause. A good but sobering read to those of us who love all things English. I am also reading “Dancing with Strangers”, an extraordinary academic study of the records recording the first meetings between English settlers in Australia and the Aborigines. Moving to late 20th C European philosophy now, I also frequently dip into “Baudrillard, Selected Readings” these days, which is a very perceptive collection of essays cynically unmasking the bleak vanity and shallowness of American “culture” — Americans tend to hate Baudrillard — I enjoy his work.He deliberately comes out with “shock” statements to upset and get a response, which can be amusing, annoying and enlightening.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-02-09 11:58:53 +0000

Well few will argue that doing away with the monarchy was a good idea, but otherwise Cromwell’s republicanism is too constrained to be of any use today… And as the Wikipedia entry on Cromwell notes: “His measures against Irish Catholics have been characterized by some historians as genocidal or near-genocidal, and in Ireland itself he is widely hated.” A lot of people will find your English focus elsewhere in the comment problematic too… But hey and I heard the holy grail of Baudrillard fans is his unpublished manuscript “The English Civil War Did Not Take Place”…..

Comment by Henry Ford on 2009-02-09 18:25:19 +0000

“……So to sum up, recession is a groove sensation and it will be even better if this is the one that proves fatal for capitalism! So kids, it’s time to get Dancing In The Streets…”
You are joking? I don’t believe we are witnessing anything like the death of Capitalism, wishful thinking aside, we are seeing the same old game with another name, depression, recession, credit crunch etc..all manufactured ‘Fleecing of the flock’, Centralisation of assets, land grabbing, asset stripping, pension fund geo-manouevres….
Some dancing on the heads of the corporate oligarchy to the strains of ‘Jabberwock Rock’ would be preferable to David Bowie and Mick Jagger in silky shirts (they are wanted in connection with the murder of a great song).
See the back of the £20 note:
“The division of labour in pin manufacturing: (and the great increase in the quantity of WORK that results)”…
Not more pins? Better pins? The pin is mightier than the sword.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-02-09 20:18:20 +0000

Why would I be joking? Dancing In The Streets is a metaphor. Do you know what Afro-Americans took the song to mean in the mid-sixties? I didn’t dig the paranoid right-wing conspiracies about the FR on the link you put to your name either… so I’ve changed it to a more useful link to the works of Marx & Engels. And I don’t dig Henry Ford either, and I especially despise his publications such as the “Dearborn Independent”, which he filled with his bigoted bile….

Comment by Díre McCain on 2009-02-10 00:16:47 +0000

My vote goes for the no-day week, which, to be perfectly honest, I’ve been savoring for far too long…
Beep beep!

Comment by THE CLEANER AT BOOK WORKS on 2009-02-10 11:58:18 +0000

Hey can I just say that, because of a very slow web today, when I come into your blog, (presumably) before your CSS loads, I see a much plainer blog with white boxes on gray and ‘Mister Trippy’ in white at the top without a surrounding box….
And it looks really fantastic…
Not sure if you can check it out the way I’m seeing it just now but if you could, this ‘aberration’ would be the no-contest winner…

Comment by OEDIPUSSY on 2009-02-10 12:14:09 +0000

Yes…I’m nostalgic for the early days of ‘late’ capitalism too rather than these pre-apocalypse (or is it post-apocalypse) days. There was nothing better than walking down *insert name of London street here* when *insert name of disappeared London venue here* was still open and bumping into *insert name of dead London transgressive meta-celebrity here* while *insert outdated drug activity here*
These days I just get in my Audi and view the world from inside a ‘hermes’ bubble just like my main man Iain Sinclair. It’s the only way to view the *english* landscape

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-02-10 13:56:51 +0000

If only I’d learnt to drive, but fear not I still have my trusty bicycle, and it got me to Bethnal Green today no problem. And what was I doing in Bethnal Green… Don’t ask, let’s just say I have many connections with the area, having first lived there in a quarter of a centruy ago!

Comment by Stewart Home on 2009-02-11 12:11:12 +0000

You need wheels if you want to cut deals but since I’ve been Michael K I’ve had to walk as he’s not only not re-inventing the wheel but not inventing it in the first place. I know, I know…”How are you supposed to play records?”, I asked him…I mean me…but at that point Stewart…I mean…Michael…I mean sploshing….needed to use the bathroom so I adjusted my clothing and left.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-02-11 23:46:47 +0000

I could have sworn someone else said that….

Comment by John Lee Hooker on 2009-02-13 14:17:15 +0000

If you’re really good at being yourself, you can be anybody on the web..I mean..sploshing

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-02-13 19:05:32 +0000

But what brand of custard is best or should it be strictly home made?

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