People dream of opening a shop in Glastonbury. Spending their days sharing their passion for books or clothes or crystals with throngs of interesting customers. However, as I know from several years as a bookseller in the town, some customers can be maddening, or sometimes just plain mad.
I went to visit Mark from Glastonbury’s ‘Sonus Magus’ Music Shop, he was in an uncharacteristically bad
Here’s a list of things NOT TO DO in Sonus Magus
1. Let your ‘Free range’ children run around frantically, picking up and blowing into all the wind instruments. Apologizing won’t help either, as Mark generally replies “It’s OK, everyone does that” in the
2. Share your ‘expert opinions’ with other customers unasked, this is particularly annoying if you then get mistaken for shop staff.
3. Don’t say “I was looking on
4. Absolutely don’t ask if Mark has a photocopier. A trillion years ago, when the shop wasn’t a music shop, they did offer a photocopying service. Please take note of the lack of photocopiers in the shop, it’s a clue.
At this point in Mark’s rant, three local musicians come in, drinking soup. One reveals he has applied to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest, while another mentions that he has just been given a hash cake. While they buy guitar strings I notice that Mark has arranged three
5. Don’t mention Seasick Steve, yes there are a large number of guitars that Mark has fashioned from old tins and even an Apple desktop housing dotted around the shop. Yes, they are interesting, no, that is not a reason to mention Seasick Steve,
6. Do not call the shop ‘The Guitar Shop’, Mark says it’s “A Sound Art Gallery”.
7. Do not spend hours deliberating whether to buy something, then don’t, only to come in the next day having changed your mind, only to discover it’s been sold to someone else. If you do inadvertently do this, do not get upset with Mark for having sold it. The word ‘shop’ is a clue.
Mark is tapping away on his tablet while we talk, the tablet cover features Dr Who’s Tardis. Mark points out that he’s not keen on boring packaging, so he’s taken to repackaging things. Hence the ‘Rainbow Unicorn’ guitar strings and earplugs and ‘Amber Moon’ capos that are on offer.
8. Mark has stocked the shop with rainbow coloured things. Do not ask Mark for guitar straps in brown or beige. N
9. Do not turn up exactly at opening time (according to Mark this is at 11.11am). Do not try to enter the shop while Mark is trying to go out the door, with his sign mounted on an old bike, and the community guitar. If the shop is late opening do not point out that “It says 10am on the door!” as if the door has some kind of authority.
Mark told me someone had taken the stickers off the community guitar and tried to paint it black, in an attempt to make it theirs. This did not upset him, in
10. Don’t try and talk to Mark about anything that uses the words ‘Us and Them’. “As Mark says “I dislike this idea that the ‘retailers’ have a problem with the ‘benchers’ for putting off the ‘customers’. They are all just roles we take on, we’re all human beings”.
11. Do not use the word YONI “How did we get from ‘fanny’ from the war, through minge and fur china (my daughter’s term for it when she was about five or six) to YONI??? Or maybe I think it has something to do with Yeovil and …”
The guy who plays the accordion in town comes in. His van has broken down and he needs cash to repair it. He offers Mark an amp, he wants “£123 or £133, because they are numbers I like”, Mark buys the amp and accordion man plays his latest tune ‘Zombie Walk’ which he wrote for Glastonbury. It actually sounds OK, better than when I hear him play in the street, he then launches into some freeform poetry. I’m now feeling annoyed by one of Mark’s customers.
As Accordion Man leaves I remark that the steady stream of customers have all been weird in different ways, but Mark says he doesn’t let that bother him “As I’m weirder than all of them”. Before I go I enquire about the spade in front of the counter, Mark tells me “I’m going to turn that into a cello, at least if I do that it won’t remind anyone of Seasick Steve”.
Don’t let all this put you off of visiting Mark’s ‘Sound Art Gallery’, it’s packed with fantastic instruments and all the accessories and parts you might need, there’s even a tuba in the window which Mark posed naked with for the 2019 Cancer Research Calendar, and he clearly works hard to serve local musicians. Just don’t mention Seasick Steve, or Yonis.
If you are interested in learning more about Mark and his amazing acoustical creations please see my earlier blog post about him “Sonus Magus, Glastonbury’s Music Shop”.
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