In one of the forgotten areas of England, where heavy industry has been replaced by nothing at all, there is a friendly little record shop. Young men and old, almost all without work or any prospect of work, come here for a friendly chat with the owner Tom Butchard and to forget their loneliness for an hour or two. Similar record shops in the North Yorkshire town of Stockton-on-Tees have closed down and only Tom’s shop has survived. As a result of this Tom has become so busy that he has rescued “Saturgay” from redundancy to help him put some order into his chaotic life and to arrange the stacks and stacks of old LPs neatly.
Director Jeanie Finlay’s fascinating documentary draws us into the world of the manic collector and the lonely people on the fringe of society. They mostly seem to want to cling to the past and are delighted when Mr. Butchard can trace obscure LPs from the fifties for them. “Records are memories,” says Tom who always has a friendly face for the people in his shop.
Customers face Ms Finlay’s camera, talk directly to it and usually bare their souls while talking about their reasons for being there. Almost to a man, and Tom says that 99% of his customers are men, these people have the haunted eyes of those whose future is as bleak as the town they live in and the surrounding urban blight which Ms Finlay’s camera shows us.
Her documentary is a gem which shows how the initiative of one kindly person can spread a little hope and comfort to others. (JM)