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End of an Era… Play Led Zeppelin

22 February 2009 2,593 views No Comment

Dave LewisWell the doors have finally shut on Zavvi Milton Keynes signifying the end of an era. In the end it was a slow death – eight weeks of rumour,counter rumour and many ups and downs. Even on the morning of the announcement last Wednesday, I felt there might be a last reprieve. A few stores were snapped up by HMV and word has it a deal was nearly inked for the Milton Keynes store to be part of the new Head Entertainment chain set up by the former Zavvi MD. Both would have been eleventh hour lifelines, but it was not to be and so I find myself redundant and out of a job after 35 years. Initial emotions? The expected ones really: bitterness, frustration, fear of the unknown, deep uncertainty, relief I guess that finally our fete has been decided. And aside from the obvious financial worries it all brings I will dearly miss the camaraderie of the fantastic people I’ve worked with these past few years. I’d like to use this platform to personally thank Ken Drewery, Gareth Riley, Andy Carter, Dave Smith, Simon Beckett, Ingrid Kenyon, Paul Barlow, SJ, Jon, Dave Lyon, Adam, Emma, Ralph, Michelle, Richard, Ali, Sarah G, Jamie T, Windows, Stew, Emily, Matt, Rach, Graham, Thom, Christian, Dan, Sarah M, Lauren, Kay,Re, Lewis, Julie, Rob Brown, Vicky ,Abs, Scott, Ian, Dave and all the Zavvi MK team for making 8 Midsummer Place, Milton Keynes such a great place to be. It’s been more than just a job – it’s been a way of life for me: working with such great people with passion for the products we love and sharing that enthusiasm. Plus there’s been all the laughter, sweat, toil, trials and tribulations working in a massively busy retail unit has entailed. You have to be a little bit crazy to work in retail and I’ve put in some mad hours over the years (often balancing all the TBL/Zep stuff on a tightrope), but the sense of fulfillment has been immense.

It’s a tragedy that all that has been taken away. Not just personally, as the Zavvi collapse represents yet another loss to the UK high street. The store stopped trading on Tuesday and we spent the next three days undertaking the massive and somewhat heartbreaking task of dismantling the store and packing up all the stock to go to one of the saved stores. Yesterday (Friday) that process was completed and the end of an era dawned. It was a quite extraordinary day full of high emotion – one highlight was having cleared the sales floor of racks, we were able to stage a full scale football match with the staff –a chance to show why in the Wallbanger FC days I was once described as ‘’Only a wee lad but a great keeper’’ – It was quite a physical encounter and I have the bruises to prove it. (Thank you Gareth!) We finally closed the doors for the last time at 3.45 and yes I had a big lump in my throat. Walking down to the pub past the windows it was still incredible to think it was all over. Many beers were drunk and more than a few tears shed as we bonded together for the last time. Still can’t work out how I managed to get the last bus, and I would have ended up in Cambridge had it been going there as I crashed out completely…as it was I awoke at 12.15 am still on the bus in the Bedford Bus Depot (I completely missed Bedford Bus station) as the cleaner guy was getting on. A two mile walk home followed. Today a hangover from hell and too much time really to reflect on the enormity of the last week.Having Sam back for a few days has been a tonic and we are having a Chinese takeaway tonight. Sam goes back to Norwich tomorrow and next week I’ll need to take a deep sigh and get down to the task of trying to get a new job.

I’m sure sometime over the next few days, the symbolic strains of track one side three of the album Physical Graffiti will offer suitable musical solace – It’ll be 34 years to the day that the rightly acclaimed double album was released this coming Wednesday. ‘’Everybody needs the light’’ as the singer put it…..no more so than in these difficult times. Before all this drama, there was a night out for the TBL crew and to paraphrase Cameron Crowe. ‘’To any band who ever needed a surefire cover song, or any musician looking for clues on how to mix textures, cross musical boundaries or just plain rock, there’s no substitute – play Led Zeppelin’’ In the confines of the hallowed Corn Exchange Bedford, that’s what tribute band Whole Lotta Led did pretty convincingly to a good turn out. The TBL crew of bruv JL, Sally and Martyn plus the visiting Mr Foy were on hand and an excellent night was had. It was good to talk to Geoff and Nick from WLL plus Jez and Mick from MK and a fair few others. Also chatted to a local chap who told me he had all the early TBL’s including the rare first issue. Turns out he used to work with my late Dad and I do remember my Dad requesting copies for a lad back then. Nice to know he still holds them in high esteem. Gary and I went on for the traditional curry which led as expected to a whole lotta headache the next morning. All worth it of course.

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