I’d heard the bigger boys talk about going there.

And some of my friends.

My friends that were my age.

They’d talk about going there too.

And I somehow knew that the bigger boys probably had been.

And that my friends.

My friends that were my age.

Probably had not.


There was one record shop in Derby.

In 1983.

Called ‘Way Ahead’.

I was 15 years old at the time.

And I’d never been.


I’d imagined going, though.

It was dark inside Way Ahead.

With music playing much louder than I was allowed to play music at home.

And it played constantly.

There was one, long haired man behind the counter at Way Ahead, I imagined.

Chewing gum.

(At work.

Chewing gum.


And I’d also imagine the panic I’d feel the first time that I did actually walk in.

I imagined the long haired man behind the counter.

Staring at me.

Through lazy, half-open eyes.

Not saying a word.

As he could see my discomfort.

My sweaty brow.

Because he knew that I didn’t know the rules of Way Ahead.

The only record shop in Derby.

And that he did.

The Way Ahead Record Shop Rules.

You see.

If I walked in the wrong way.

I imagined.

I could end up stood by a Buck’s Fizz record.

Or that fucking Joe Dolce song called.


‘Shaddap Yo Face’.

But then.

(I told myself).

Way Ahead.

The only record shop in Derby.

Wouldn’t stock shit like that.

Would it?

It’d be all ‘Iron Maiden’.

‘Blue Oyster Cult’.

And ‘Saxon’.

I knew this because my friend Dave Sirrell actually did get all his records from Way Ahead.

I’d seen them.

In his massive bedroom.

In his massive house.

That his rich dad bought.

Because Dave Sirrell’s dad was a gynaecologist.

And even though I didn’t know exactly what a gynaecologist was or did when I was 15 years old.

I knew they made a shitload of money.

Fuck; Dave Sirrell even had a microwave oven!

They were minted.

Way Ahead.

I did eventually get to Way Ahead.

And it was pretty much as I imagined.



A winding maze of categorised records.

Sat in batches of 100.

Facing me.

Back to back.

In scruffy, sturdy, wooden, stomach-high boxes.

So that when it was my turn to look.

I could stand square-on in front of them.

Legs slightly apart so the I was steady.

And I could plip, plip, plip them.

One at a time.


To reveal what sat behind each one.


I remember how I first chose to navigate Way Ahead Records.

The only record shop in Derby.

I navigated to sections not because of the records that were filed there.

But because the people that browsed there.

No one looking as cool as that.

I’d think to myself.

Would be looking for a fucking Joe Dolce record.

Teenage Me.

And there it is.

‘Teenage me’ in a nutshell.

Seeking out the cool kids.

Following the cool kids around.

Wishing I was them.

Or at the very least, that I could be with them.

I’m pretty much the same these days actually.

Maybe I’ll get there.

Maybe I can be one of the cool kids too.

Maybe one day.

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