Anton Rippon: Pirates of Penzance and the Norwegian anthem, both in glorious stereo
THIS week marks the 44th anniversary of the Trade Descriptions Act.
From November 30, 1968, shopkeepers could find themselves in court if they told porkies about the goods they sold.
Indeed, in the first six months of the new Act, the Board of Trade brought 435 prosecutions against traders, including one for selling an undetectable toupee that was detectable, another for advertising a pair of women's washable bell-bottom trousers that proved unwashable, and one for flogging a cup of tea that was advertised at 9d but ended up costing 1s 3d. They must have charged extra for milk and sugar?
Meanwhile, the Gramophone Record Retailers' Association said that many LPs – for the benefit of the download generation that is long-playing records – had been labelled misleadingly as "stereo" when they were not genuine stereophonic recordings.
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Actually, that wouldn't have bothered my family because we never possessed a gramophone. My pal John Burns' family had a wind-up one, though. It was housed in a handsome wooden case and, on wet afternoons in the school holidays in the 1950s, we would crank it up and put on a 78rpm (for the downloaders that is "revolutions per minute"). Oddly, the only one I can ever remember us playing is the overture to The Pirates of Penzance.
There was a boy at junior school, whose name I can't remember, whose family also boasted a gramophone but, again, I can recall only one record, this time entitled National Anthems Of Our Allies.
This is why I am word-perfect on the national anthem of Norway, although I'm sure that you don't want to be bothered with that here.
When it comes to our own national anthem, I still have to smile at the memory of the mad scramble to get out of the cinema before God Save The King (and eventually the Queen, of course) was played at the end of the day's programme.
There would be a clatter of seats as people stumbled for the exits even before the lights went up.
My father, being a Daily Mail reader and working class Tory, always stood his ground and muttered: "There go the Labour Party."
Back to gramophones, the other day I was dropping off some books at the Cats Protection League shop in the Wardwick when I spotted a pile of old 78s and gave a couple of pounds for one that would have yielded up Carroll Gibbons and his Savoy Hotel Orpheans playing A Sinner Kissed An Angel, if only I'd had something on which to play it.
The fact that I still don't own a gramophone made that a daft purchase, I'm sure you'll say, but I bought it not for the record itself but for its brown cardboard cover, upon which was printed a bit of old Derby: "Dixons, Specialists in Sound Reproduction", whose business was situated in the Strand Arcade in the days when Derby boasted many strong independent retailers.
There are still quite a few, of course, and, as I noted briefly last week, I am a great champion of the Cathedral Quarter. Westfield has its place, but our city needs sturdy independent businesses, not least the sort that would never have sold you a detectable toupee in the first place.