IT’S HARD WORK BEING KIND…
This is (I think) the only signed record in my collection.
As a rule, record signings or fan meets aren’t really my thing. But I went to this one: bought the record, got it signed, had a quick chat with Jason and Andrew, the guys who make up Sleaford Mods. I like their work and think this is a great album, but I didn’t go because I’m a mega-fan or wanted a selfie.
I went because this event was held at my local record store (RIP).
For a smallish town in North Hertfordshire, too close to London to ever really tempt any major acts to cross the M25-icon, this was a big get. The band were touring independent record shops and live venues: a brilliant principle to organise a tour around. Rather than looking at where ticket/merch sales would be highest, they visited the places that would benefit the most from their platform.
The conditions for entry to the signing were simple:
1) Buy their record from the independent shop.
2) Bring a food bank donation.
Just inside the door of the shop was a large box which filled up as the queue filed in, and which was eventually donated to The Trussel Trust. With the exception of Record Store Day, I had never seen the shop so busy. And everyone had a donation.
The idea of using whatever platform you have for good is especially important right now.
I wish that we lived in a country where food banks weren’t needed, but that simply isn’t the case. Over the past decade, food bank usage has rocketed into the millions. There’s probably a food bank in the town where you live now. And it needs donations.
So Sleaford Mods using their tour to support independent retailers (the lifeblood of the UK music industry, who are locked in a losing struggle with Amazon) and to collect large food bank donations is a brilliant use of their platform.
Of course, few of us have a platform as big as internationally renowned bands. But we can still make a difference.
For Christmas this year, my partner Nicki suggested we do a reverse advent calendar: collecting up donations each day rather than eating overpriced chocolate. And, in the spirit of making a bigger impact, she decided to take the box into her office so her colleagues could participate. Just a month’s worth of daily donations from a relatively small group added up to a pretty hefty haul of food and household essentials, which has now been dropped at our local food bank.
It’s not much, but it’s something.
There’s a lot of people out there who need support. Shop at independents. Volunteer in your community if you can. Give to foodbanks if you can afford to.
Take care of each other.
With thanks to Gatefold Music (RIP), Sleaford Mods, and the staff of The Language Factory, St Albans.
There is work to be done.