How to Annoy a Glastonbury Shop Keeper

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 mood, and decided to share with me some of the annoying things customers do in his shop. 

Sonus Magus Music Shop in Glastonbury Shopfront

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 hope you will realise your child is now sharing spit with others. Mmm, hygienic!

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 ebay…” thus pointing out you want the cheap prices of an online store while getting the convenience of perusing the items in an actual shop, with actual overheads.

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.

Ukeleles at Sonus Magus Music Shop, Glastonbury Town
Please note, no photocopiers here.

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 stack of plastic storage boxes behind the counter in the colours (and correct order) of the rainbow and that there is a rusty spade leaning up against the counter. The musos leave and it’s back to Mark’s pet hates.

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”.

Guitar with Apple computer body at Sonus Magus Music Shop, Glastonbury Town
Mark makes guitars out of virtually anything it seems…

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.

Rainbow Unicorn Guitar Strings at Sonus Magus Music Shop, Glastonbury Town

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. Nothing should be brown or beige except wood.

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.

Community Guitar at Sonus Magus Music Shop, Glastonbury Town
Community Guitar

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 fact he was heartened by the fact that others, witnessing this, took the guitar and gave it back to him. Mark said if the would-be community guitar thief really wants a guitar that much he has a spare he is prepared to give them, ‘once they get out of prison’.

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.

Mark’s video of Accordion Man – I am hovering to the left, pretending not to be there.

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”.

You may be surprised to hear that this post was commissioned by Mark, who has a strange concept of advertising.  Perhaps very honest advertising will become a thing and we will have started a trend.

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10 thoughts on “How to Annoy a Glastonbury Shop Keeper”

  1. disclaimer: Traditional American usage equates “free range” with “unfenced,” and with the implication that there was no herdsman keeping them together or managing them in any way. Legally, a free-range jurisdiction allows livestock to run free, and the owner is not liable for any damage they cause. So the children I was referring to tend to arrive from Bridgwater, Weston-Super-Mare and occasionally London with parents who use Glastonbury’s shops as a “adventure playground” for entertainment. This includes allowing the younger ones to grab random things and blow into them as well as strumming guitars on display so hard they pull the hangers off the wall. Often times they bring the older ones into the shop to “try out” guitars with a complex agenda which can include getting their kid to play a seemingly unending repertoire of impressive riffs they are not really interested in, or to let me know they already have the exact same guitar and just wanted a price comparison. After the rain yesterday I realise .. I missed a couple of other things that annoy me .. People who come into the shop and interrupt administration tasks. Who say “oh you look busy” then periodically knock things off shelves till the rain stops. The rain stops .. I pick up a guitar .. stumble across a musical phrase I really like .. record it into a looper .. have an idea for a part to go with it and .. People who come into the shop and interrupt me writing music and ask questions like “that unit in the window, can it be connected to a computer via USB?” “erm no, it’s from the nineteen seventies” “but you could still connect it to a computer” “they didn’t have computers when it came out so no, there isn’t a USB socket, early computers had a different kind of serial port” “but could you connect it to a spectrum analyser” “erm .. what are you trying to achieve, if you tell me what you want to do with it I will see if I can help you” “yeah you can, of course you can connect it to a computer and a spectrum analyser, that’s given me an idea” several minutes in and the melody I had in my head is now missing .. man leaves .. pulls smart phone from pocket .. stands in front of unit in the window and takes several photos then scurries off .. I put the guitar away and start an administration task .. People who come into the shop and say “do you mind if I eat this in here?”

  2. Wonderful.. im one of those annoying customers that answers other customers questions because mark is busy plugging a shovel into a bedspring and out of a shoe…


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