“If you buy this record today,
It’s not true what the advertisements say,
Your life won’t be greatly improved.”


Being British, I feel it would be remiss of me not to mention today’s weather. 🙂 Yes, the shock and awe of a few flakes of snow and the country goes into a panic. 🙂 I honestly don’t know how we’d cope if we had proper snow. Namely, the levels of the white stuff that our far more northerly cousins – Canada, Finland, Norway, Russia, etc – get. Sure, it’s not been great in some parts of the country, but up here in the mild Midlands, it’s not so bad. Although we live out in the sticks, we’re lucky in that we live on a main road that gets enough traffic to squish the snow into slush.

Dear Editor

It’s not often I read a newspaper these days. I guess I can get lots of  *ahem* ‘facts’ from the Interwebs and all the opinion I want from blogs. 🙂 Anyhoo, this week the Observer ran an article penned by Julie Burchill in response to her friend’s treatment on twitter. I won’t go into the detail of the background, that’s what Google is for and I dare say it’ll do a better job of it than I. 😉

The original article has been taken down and if I switch my Trans Force powers off for just a mo and look at the piece as Regular Joe Public…..well, I still find it offensive. 🙂 If someone had used the same terms at my place of work, I can’t help but think that there would be a visit to HR, a review of their employment and the company’s stance on non-discrimination. Ooo, it’s the Thought Police, I’ve heard from certain areas of the company regarding HR. Joke nastily if you want, but I think there are some words/phrases that we should not use to describe people. Yes, people, because we’re human. We feel pain: both physical and emotional. To lay into a community as I felt the article did….. It’s really quite unpleasant. As a side note, do I like all trans folk that I’ve met? In the main, yes, but I would say the levels of cool/indifferent/okay/friends/twits/OMG are no different to people outside of that little world.

Oddly, I didn’t email in and ask that the piece be taken down. What I did put was that I felt it was poor judgement, that it is offensive, but it should be left on-line so that people can see what some folk think of the trans community. Hell, even though it has been taken down, copies persist on the web. Perhaps we should never forget, but we should forgive? There’s a question and no doubt opinions will be heated.

Changes Ahoy

This week saw another high street retailer go under: HMV. Now, to those of you from outside dear Old Blighty, HMV was a record shop…. or at least… umm… it was back in the day when people used to buy records. Even in a pre-Internet era, I didn’t shop at HMV as it was too pricey for gifts and they rarely had the music in stock that I liked. Not that I had particularly avant-garde tastes, just go off the hit charts and that excludes a lot of high street shops. I say ‘had’ as most of the stuff I listen to now is pop. Funny how things change.

Did the Internet kill the record shop? Much as that’s a bit of a mediaism at the mo, I’m not sure it’s 100% true. I’ve read in a few business pages that HMV may have overstretched when it came to how many stores it needed, it’s market model wasn’t cast iron (more on that below) and yes, price is a factor.

So, market model? I read the other day that HMV’s market was young folk wanting to buy singles. This was something we used to do when we were kids… back in the 80s where bandwidth meant a popular beat combo who’d been at the pies. Skip on a few years and the youth of today – or so we are lead to believe – are the wired generation aka digital natives. They’ve grown up with technology and as such, are a lot more tech savvy that a lot of folk. They’ve kinda got the head start on downloading music, so you’ve got to wonder what a record shop would do to keep its main income stream. Whatever it was, I’m not sure HMV pulled it off.

Likewise, announcements were made about the video rental company, Blockbuster struggling too. Okay, I’ve just used the word ‘video’. 🙂 Film rentals I guess would be more accurate. Again, I’m not sure I can remember the last time I rented anything from Blockbuster. The idea of going to a shop, hoping they had a film in I wanted and then trailing back when we’d watched it. Well, in the age of LoveFilm, YouTube, iPlayer and Netflix, it seems kinda odd. Skip back a few years before on-live TV – okay, legal on-line TV – had really come into its own, Mrs J and I had subscribed to a DVD by post scheme. That suited our lifestyle at the time, but we watch less than we used to. Well, less of the horror / blockbusters and more of the kid friendly stuff now. 😉 Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.

The question doing the rounds at the mo is; what will happen to our high streets and city centres? A few years ago the press where up in arms (to use a cliché  over out of town shopping killing the high street. Well, the high street survived that and maybe there’s some irony in big out of town retailers going under. I know for clothes shopping, I’d rather browse a shop full of clothes (and shoes!!), than cycle through an on-line catalogue. The Ever Lovely Mrs J suggested that may be there will be more ‘trying on’ shops, but that you have to order the item to be delivered. Maybe we’ll see more cafes and bars? Who knows. It’ll be an interesting period of history to see retail change. There will be some unpleasantness in terms of job losses and a change to the landscape, but isn’t that inevitable?

Take care,

[ Today’s lyric: Commercial ****ing Suicide by Carter USM ]


  1. That the article (and I use the term loosely) should never have been published, and I can't think of another group where they would have done.

    That said, I think that it puts her in a worse light than us and should be left up just to show the world what type of person she is.

    As to the high street… I think that HMV lost when they stopped selling music and films, and replaced it with tat.

    Some shops are just in trouble I think, like specialists where people use the shop for advise taking it and then buying online. And then complaining when the shop goes out of business…

    I've lost my favourite Hi-Fi shop because of that type of thing. Such a shame, as they were fabulously helpful, both before and after they had your money, and really made sure that they sold you what you wanted and not what they wanted to sell you.


    1. Perhaps it [article] should never have been published. However, there has been – at least in my limited view of the Internet / newspapers – much pro-trans comment. Talk along the lines that it was abuse, that it wasn't right, that it's not true, etc. That and comment about how being trans fits into equality / feminism. So, unpleasant, yes, but has it brought us together?

      Shame about the hi-fi shop going. I've tried to stick with buying from Richer Sounds as they've been really helpful. I think it was on the BBC yesterday, where a journalist used the phrase 'zombie business'. The walking wounded in terms of business models and profits.

  2. I think many of these shops that are going, just failed to keep up with market demands. The sad part is the employees who will loose their jobs.The trouble with the coffee shop model, is that people need a reason to come to the city center or there will be no custom for the coffee shop either.
    As for the article, I think the measured responses to it are ok, but some have gone over the top and may do more harm than good.
    Will this be a tipping point? Or will the moment pass?

    1. It is sad when a company goes – at least from an employment point of view and also there can be a little bit of history around it. Woolworths, for example. True about the coffees shop model. Maybe town will be packed with coffee shops, bars, clothes stores and some sort of automated display shop from Internet retailers so you can view the goods.

      Tipping point? Hmm. Good point. I'm not sure, but I'm hopeful it pushes things into the mainstream. I thought that Alex's comment that her children had picked up on it being 'out of order' was very telling and I hope a sign of things to come. I think we (trans massive) will slip from view a little, but with each little step, I think we get harder and harder to ignore. Maybe that's a good thing. I mean, positive comments from newspapers outlining that trans bashing is socially unacceptable.

  3. I agree that it shouldn't have been published, and also that it should've been left up – so that the 2000+ comments condemning the piece were left on public record. As it is, Burchill gets to pretend that she's a martyr for free speech, whereas it's only the people who commented who have, in effect, been censored. She had her piece up again elsewhere within the hour, whereas the comments are now gone for good.

    But anyway…. I already spent far too long involved in all this last week. It's a new week now and there's work to be done 😉

    1. Comments? Yes, that would have been handy to have on-line.

      Yes. New week. Let's move on.

      BTW, if she's a martyr, do we need to get a large fire and a stake ready? 😉

  4. I do find it rather perplexing that in a number of towns and cities new shopping 'centres' are still being constructed, where there are a number of other complexes that are sparsely occupied. Leeds comes immediately to mind. Wandering around there last May, I noticed a number of now empty stores but yet a new shopping complex is being constucted just up the road from our play area. Not sure how the investment can be justified in these market conditions.

    1. It's a strange set of affairs by all accounts. I've noticed more 'corner shop' style little supermarkets appearing. Sadly, all owned by the usual suspects. Some have built on brown field sites – usually ex-petrol stations – which I think is a better use of old land.

      I'm surprised at Leeds. I thought a city of that size would have done better. Strange…

      Nottingham city centre isn't doing too bad in terms of empty retail properties. Although I note there are certainly more empty gaps than two years ago. But, take a trip out into the suburbs and there are a lot more closures. Is it all a vicious circle? :-

  5. Apparently, you Britishians are just as scared of the weather as us San Diegans. If you hadn't heard, it hit 50 degrees F (that's 10 C for you metrics) and we just weren't sure if it was even safe to leave our homes. It felt as if the air was biting us. I did not know that coats had even been invented to battle this extreme condition. I decided that the best course of action was to wrap myself in tin foil to mimic the emergency blankets employed in extreme conditions.

    1. Larks, 10c. That's summer time isn't it? 😉

      A few years ago, Mrs J, her folks and I were in San Diego for a holiday (lovely place). I think it was November and the weather was rather good (hint: classic Brit understatement). We noticed a few folk in coats and wondered what the deal was…. now I know 🙂

  6. I'm not in favour of censorship or in the case of the Birchill article, self censorship however ignorant and bile filled especially as it allows fools like Toby Jones to feel like they're some defender of free speech.
    HMV's problems were cyclical as well as self inflicted, wondering which chain will be next.

    1. Unlike our American cousins, there's no right to free speech as far as I'm aware. There's mutters about freedom to expression, but I'm not sure it is exactly the same thing. I guess the issue with being able to say what you want, is that you have to put up with folk you really don't agree with. 🙂 A small price to pay perhaps.

      Who is next? I'd say probably Mothercare (middle class shop. Parents heavily taxed, etc) or another niche electrical retailer.

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