For anybody who hasn’t worked retail, it’s hard to quite convey the crushing monotonous tedium. For the time I owned Videosyncratic, a lot of people expressed the view that it must be lovely to just ‘sit in a shop watching films all day’ without realising how crushingly monotonous and tedious that becomes day-in-day-out. The crushing monotonous tedium is punctured only by customers. Customers who, as anyone who has ever worked retail will tell you, are the only thing worse than the crushing monotonous tedium.
Customers serve one purpose: To annoy. They ask the same handful of stupid questions over and over again, they believe that the concept of customer service immediately makes you their lesser and they love nothing more than complaining. When you’re running a failing business, the rare sound of the door opening is accompanied by both the desperate hope of a financial boost and the dread of inevitable annoyance. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, and we were blessed by a handful of regulars whose appearance would actually lift your spirits.
None more so than Dave Lord. I think I speak for all the Cowley Road staff when I say that.
Dave came in all the time, pretty much daily, and with him came a palpable change in atmosphere. He was the happiest, smiliest, most enthusiastic, good natured, conversational and excitable person to grace our doorstep. At the time, Dave was working nights often so would stock up on DVDs to see him through. I wasn’t just glad to see him, his visits would genuinely brighten my day. We talked a lot, mainly about films but also about whatever was going on. He was insightful and sharp but always warm and upbeat with the irrepressible joy and optimism of a waggy-tailed dog.
On the day we closed Videosyncratic, we had a huge sale and attracted such a crowd that the queue snaked around the whole shop. The staff worked a day longer than 12 hours with no chance for breaks. Dave turned up with a big bag of cakes and biscuits because he could see we wouldn’t be eating. Seeing how busy we were, he vaulted the counter and said ‘what can I do?’ he mucked in for hours and when I thanked him he thanked me back and told me it’d always been one of his dreams to work there. It was a pleasure to have worked alongside him.
I was filming that day and ended up cutting this short documentary about it:
I’m so glad that not only is Dave in it, but in both shots, he is smiling (in one of them, he’s even jumping up and down) as that is how I’ll always remember him and that’s what I will always do when I think of him.
When I put together the Anyone Can Play Guitar DVD, I went backwards and forwards about whether to include the Videosyncratic documentary as an extra on it and now I’m so glad I did as it means that all over the world, thousands of people have a couple of Dave Lord smiles in their houses. That’s pretty awesome.
Dave was too young and too lovely to die. My heart and condolences go out to his family and friends. I can only begin to imagine what a hole he must leave in so many lives but I know that having known him at all was a blessing. After that night, we didn’t really see each other again, we had the odd Facebook chat, which was always good.
Ultimately, I’m just a guy who worked in a shop he would frequent. So, I hope the fact that his passing has moved me to write shows what a wonderful guy he was. His presence brightened the day of even the people on the periphery of his life, and isn’t that just the very best that a person can achieve?