Life doesn’t always go to plan. Take Julius Caesar, for example. No sooner had he come up with that deathless couplet around borrowing the lugholes of various Friends, Romans and Countrymen, his best mate Brutus was rudely sticking a sharp knife in between his ribs and cackling over his dying frame. A similar Roman Tragedy happened to me this week as I realised I had organised a trip away on Record Store Day, taking me fifty miles away from the nearest gleaming new copy of The White Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan. Some might say it doesn’t compare with the assassination of a world leader, but then those commentators don’t realise how long vinyl copies of that album have been unavailable.
But no matter, I thought. The trip did, as it happens, take me within a short distance of Britain’s Greatest Post Office.
I appreciate that is rather underwhelming, so let me tell you about why this particular Post Office is special. It is because, like Bruce Wayne and his alter ego of Batman, Holt’s Post Office also masquerades as a Vinyl Vault, housing rare and not-so-rare records alongside the array of stamps, premium bonds and tax disc renewal forms.
Owned by Andrew Worsdale and based in North Norfolk, at first glance, Holt’s post office looks like any other. Old ladies queue to cash their pensions, post letters and buy knitting patterns. Or something.
But then you notice that rather than some anodyne muzak, it is Kate Bush playing over the stereo. A closer inspection reveals racks and racks of LPs, 7″ singles and ephemera. An original U.S. copy of the Beatles album Revolver nestles alongside a well-priced copy of The Rolling Stones’ Aftermath and The Who’s Live At Leeds. On every protective plastic sleeve is a parcel stamp sticker with the price, and sometimes a comment or two from the owner.
It sells mostly used stock, so doesn’t participate in Record Store Day.
But whilst I had to console myself from the lack of White Stripes vinyl by finding an old programme from Pulp’s Different Class tour, I couldn’t help feeling that the spirit of Record Store Day was well and truly present. A record shop that has placed itself at the heart of the community.
Whether Holt has a greater number of turntables per head of the population than other picturesque East Anglian villages, I don’t know, but I can’t help thinking that this is a business model that could work elsewhere. Let’s hope a few more Post Office workers are reading this, and feel similarly inspired…