Time to be a benev­o­lent dic­ta­tor

Sunday Star-Times - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

There comes a time in a man’s life where he needs to re­assess his pri­or­i­ties. Fresh di­rec­tions need to be ex­plored, new ques­tions asked. Ques­tions such as: In be­tween all the work, is there enough fun be­ing had?

Has com­merce tri­umphed over joy? And are other peo­ple drink­ing all my beer?

And so it was that I had a good hard think a few months ago and de­cided to, as a ca­reer ad­viser might put it, ‘‘di­ver­sify my em­ploy­ment port­fo­lio’’.

My wife and I are open­ing a record store.

I will still be writ­ing, of course. Bolt­ing to­gether a sturdy sen­tence from a junk­yard of un­promis­ing words is one of life’s great plea­sures, and one of the few ar­eas where I have suf­fi­cient skill that some­one will hand me some cash each week to do it for them.

But I need more mu­sic in my life, and also more beer, and so it is that I have hatched a plan along­side my lovely wife Josephine Cachemaille to open a record store on a site both holy and pro­fane: in­side the beer gar­den of a Nel­son bar called The Free House, which was once a church.

It’s called Fam­ily Jew­els Records, be­cause this is surely the per­fect name for a record store.

The ‘‘fam­ily’’ bit has con­no­ta­tions of com­mu­nity, of whanau, of a tribe of fel­low trav­ellers, and that’s the back­bone of ev­ery good record store.

The ‘‘jew­els’’ im­plies rare gems, which is ex­actly what pun­ters will be search­ing for in the vinyl LP bins.

And best of all, when you add them to­gether, ‘‘fam­ily jew­els’’ is win­ningly rude, or at least it was, 50 years ago. If you don’t know why, ask your nana, who may well start gig­gling into her sherry as she ex­plains.

A record store in­side a bar in­side a church. This is surely a first for New Zealand, per­haps the world. A place where a sin­ner can sup pints while brows­ing through bins of dusty old LPs.

A place where mu­si­cal ar­gu­ments can be lu­bri­cated by fine IPAs, bit­ters, pil­sners and stouts. A place where I can spend my Fri­days and Satur­days when I’m not writ­ing: the land­lord, the guv’nor, the benev­o­lent dic­ta­tor of my own teensy em­pire.

It is the start of a new chap­ter in the cheap comic that is my life. Wish me luck.

This will be my last weekly col­umn for this fine pub­li­ca­tion, but you’ll still find me in these pages as a fea­ture writer.

And if you’re pass­ing through Nel­son on a Fri­day or Satur­day af­ter­noon, you’ll find me in our new record store, with a con­tented smile on my face and a turntable spin­ning nearby, a foamy pint in one hand and an eft­pos ma­chine in the other, ready to take your cash.

I need more mu­sic in my life, and also more beer, and so it is that I have hatched a plan... to open a record store on a site both holy and pro­fane.

This is Grant Smithies’ fi­nal col­umn for the Sun­day Star-Times, but he’ll con­tinue to write for Cul­ture.


Fam­ily Jew­els co-own­ers Josephine Cachemaille and Grant Smithies.

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