Playclothes From Faraway Places (GEpH009CD) deftly jacks immaculately turned-out-and-up midnight boogie-movie production into a concealed embroidery-house of distant hazy horizon drift. For partial illumination, VARIETAS IN CLINKSKELL carves out an intriguingly fine slice of retail whimsy, fresh from the instructional pen of M T Mulberry.

A little piece of history was made in Clinkskell recently when the first in a new line of specialist record shops, VARIETAS, opened it’s doors on November 5. Why Clinkskell? one might ask. Is there perhaps something special about the record buying in that town? Not really, replies manager SUSIE WORSELY, although she tells us the MOON WIRING CLUB are a big seller.

“The choice fell on us first for purely practical reasons. There are others in the pipeline, of course, but Clinkskell was the only one able to get all the necessary preliminaries completed before the recent occurrences.”

Susie is clearly delighted with her new position and this is reflected in her enthusiasm for the shop. However, she comes to VARIETAS with a background of theatre and fashion rather than records. Joining the Clinkskell Playhouse in 1976, she started in the scenery department at Mossover Hill. Three years later she moved to the Haywire Fashion House as H/A embroidery, following this with a couple of spells on wet work before becoming the ‘Face of Fancy Fizz’ in 1982.

“I don’t think you could get further removed from the record business,” she laughs. “Even so, in the short time I’ve been involved with records, I’ve grown very attached to them.” Assisting Susie to look after VARIETAS is Branch supervisor DOLTIMUS TWIGGS, who also joined from Haywire Fashion House.

Even with a G’LOSS records branch just a short walk around the corner, Susie sees no rivalry between herself and its manager O W Whyatt, with whom she coincidentally also once worked at Haywire Fashion House. “We help each other, you see,” she explains, “even to swapping stock if one of us is short of a particular item.”

The shop’s interior has a warm, idiosyncratic layout, with eye-catching displays of records and edible accessories. Interestingly, VARIETAS currently stocks nothing but releases from the MOON WIRING CLUB. These include not one but two new titles ~ Why Does My House Make Creaking Noises? and Playclothes From Faraway Places. Has this admirable single-mindedness affected trade? “We did consider selling records by other people” muses Susie, “but in the end, why spoil a winning formula?”

Why indeed? For those wondering which MOON WIRING CLUB album to buy first, customers may ask any one of the 136 full and part-time assistants situated behind the counter for help. Numbered among these are twins recruited from Mr Whyatt’s G’LOSS branch, Misses Anne and Jane Chimney.

A noticeable difference to the usual record shop is the absence of uniforms. In VARIETAS the staff are fetchingly outfitted in a variety of trendsetting fabrics, almost as if they have just stepped off the catwalk. After purchasing both new MOON WIRING CLUB albums and perhaps a flamboyant pudding, VARIETAS then uses elaborately detailed and luxurious wrapping paper to perfect your transaction.

With professional vim and glamour seemingly on tap, VARIETAS sets a new standard in progressive retail. While the unsettling portents of sinister calamity exponentially seep throughout the rest of the country, the future for records in Clinkskell appears very rosy.

M T Mulberry 1982