HMV

Blah blah blah, part-time columnist blah blah filing copy late blah blah rattling on about something or other blah blah haven’t really read it blah blah is it any good this month?

Illustration: Joel Benjamin

BREAKING NEWS. I’ve found the HMV dog and he’s furious.

I was in the market for a new pet after I lost my tortoise while experimenting with my catapult-powered laser harp. The type of pet didn’t matter as long as it did backflips when I was bored, and fitted into the washing machine when it got smelly. The choice at the local animal shelter wasn’t great. The rabbits looked like weasels, the dolphins were covered in barnacles, and I’m pretty sure I saw a cat with two backsides.

“Should have bought off the internet,” I muttered, which earned me an acidic glare from a fruit bat. And there he was in the final cage: Nipper, the dog from the HMV logo. The lighting was smashed and the walls were blackened with mould, but in the shadows he was unmistakable. Little white mongrel terrier, floppy black ears; his bemused face, now grooved with wrinkles, gazing into emptiness where there once was a phonograph.

In the same way you might not be familiar with, say, the inner leg measurements of MC Hammer’s dancing pants, there’s a chance you won’t know the logo I’m banging on about. I should provide some context. HMV is a chain of UK record shops whose name stands for the now-obsolete music formats “Hearing trumpet, MiniDisc, Vinyl”. The stores were grubby fly-traps for audio purists, with rack after rack of decaying Devo 12-inches. Since the internet ruined everything, their shops are now “Ready Player One” retro-gaming nightmares sporadically interrupted by celebrity signings from the likes of The Weather Girls and the rapper from Technotronic.

Anyway, for their logo, they plonked a dog in front of a record player and said, “That’ll do”.

So there I was, looking at Nipper the HMV dog who seemed as lost as Scrappy-Doo at his uncle’s wake. I’d be a great dog owner, I thought. Fatboy Slim has a sausage dog, Madonna made a poodle from plasticine, and I’m pretty sure Brian Eno has a phalanx of octopuses dressed as labradors.

“You’re the best creature in here,” I told Nipper, upon which I definitely heard a fruit bat tutting.

Except… I don’t know. Something didn’t feel right, like that time I bluffed my way through a Pet Shop Boys concert while Chris Lowe was gagged and bound in a cleaning cupboard.

That’s when I realised Nipper was glowering at me. I’d only ever seen him in side profile, but here was the ancient mutt fixating head-on, his eyes discs of dark anger, brow rumpled with rage.

“What?” I said.

And then it struck me: Nipper was in the shelter for a reason. After shoppers moved online, the retail chain dumped the dog. These days, their logo is simply a pink neon “HMV”, which stands for the now-obsolete music genres “heavy metal”, “musique concrète” and “Vengaboys” – not a Nipper in sight.

Their marketing grunts had metaphorically bagged up the mutt with bricks and dropped him into the canal of history. This ageing terrier didn’t belong in a world of Spotify, streaming, Netflix and Twitch. Shoppers like me had rendered this old mongrel useless – and Nipper knew it.

Still. I got my new pet. I quite like owning a fruit bat. He won’t do backflips, and there’s a lot of passive-aggression, but he fits brilliantly into a washing machine.

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