Hoping the music doesn’t stop for HMV’s staff in Peterborough

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Video might not have killed the radio star but the internet is inflicting serious damage on record stores.

The sad news that, for the second time in a few years, music chain HMV has gone into administration has highlighted the difficulties facing the traditional high street stores. It means an unsettling and worrying time for thousands of staff, including those at the store in Queensgate.

A big part of the problem is that music streaming services offer an alternative format to the physical product and, crucially, is often available free.

Modern music may have no price but sadly it’s value has diminished too. Streaming is not only killing jobs, it’s also killing music.

As B.B.King sang ‘the thrill is gone’.

As a young music fan in the late 70s I remember the sheer joy of browsing the racks in HMV, Virgin, or if you were growing up in Peterborough, Andy’s Records.

The release of a new album from the Clash or The Jam or Elvis Costello was an event packed with excitement and anticipation.

For a short time in the early 80s I even worked in arguably Britain’s most famous record shop – Virgin’s iconic Oxford Street megastore in London.

I was in the back room shrink-wrapping the albums,but my favourite part of the job was taking out the albums and replenishing the racks with the latest vinyl delights.

Sadly, vinyl fell out of favour and it all went downhill. Cassettes were handy for the car, but too flimsy. CDs were better but somehow soulless – and the sleeve notes and lyrics were printed too small. The iPod briefly rekindled my passion, but that is already heading to the music museum.

So now we have the music streaming services. I use them a lot, but I hardly listen to an entire song, let alone an album, before I’m skipping to the next track.

To this day I spend too much of my time wandering around HMV, but I couldn’t tell you the last album that got me excited to get home and play it (although the 2018 releases from Ry Cooder, Idles and Rosalia were all rather good).

I hope there is better news in the new year for HMV and its staff, not least because I need somewhere to hang around in my lunchtime.

POLITICS

Go now, Fiona

There has been understandable anger, outrage even, from Peteborough voters after MP Fiona Onasanya was found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Whether or not she is required to relinquish her role as an MP – and that will depend on the sentence imposed on her later this month – she should do the right thing and resign.

It is a sorry state of affairs and it’s not been helped by the entirely predictable but nonetheless distasteful behaviour of some of her political opponents whose sneering attempts to take advantage of the situation are an absolute disgrace.

The local Labour Party has also not covered itself in glory by refusing to comment. Don’t they think the people in this city who voted for their candidate are entitled to a sorry?

Who knows after the dust has settled Ms Onasanya might try and rebuild her political career by becoming a Peterborough City Councillor. As we have seen before having a criminal record is no bar there.

CRIME

Fatal mistake

The case of Stephen Leonard, of St Michael’s Gate, who almost killed a frail dementia sufferer in her Peterborough home was shocking enough in itself.

Now it has been revealed that Leonard had previously been given a life sentence for the rape and murder of a three-year-old girl.

How on earth was this excuse of a human being allowed to live amongst us all in Peterborough?

And, yes, his victim could have been any one of us. He told the court he didn’t mean to try to kill Fay Mills just shut her up.

What if you or yours had, for example, accidently bumped into Leonard in Queensgate?

Or perhaps unwittingly you had just beaten him to a till at your local supermarket.

Would these incidents have sparked his murderous rage?

I’m not a ‘lock up and throw away the key’ merchant but this man should never have been allowed out of jail.

The authorities were even given a warning when having been released he was convicted of arson. And yet he was released, free to destroy another life. When he is sentenced this time surely that key will be thrown away for good.

But it is still too late for Fay Mills.

COUNCIL

A lonely idea

Peterborough City Council is promoting an anti-loneliness campaign at the same time it is leaving some villages with no weekend bus services. All aboard the irony bus!

HEALTH

Thanks, Caroline

For reasons I won’t bore you with, I spent much of Christmas Eve in Peterborough City Hospital. It was a difficult day to say the least. One of the last acts involved chief executive Caroline Walker. She won’t even have been aware of it, but hers was a small act of kindness, that in the circumstances my family found themselves in, was important to us.

I’m a great believer that the head of an organisation sets the tone for the entire operation. And on this emotional, and you might think flimsy basis, I have hope that our hospital is in safe hands.