A GUEST SERIES
14 – Sheela Na Gig – PJ Harvey (1992, Too Pure Records)
Released as a single in February 1992 (Reached Number 69)
“She said no, ah mate I’m sorry”. I’m outside the Hempstead Valley branch of Our Price with Dubstar Chris who has just asked out the girl who works behind the counter in the bookshop next door. Her name is Rachel and her mum owns the bookshop. He looks proper gutted to be honest, but he asks a girl out like once a week so he’ll bounce back.
We’ve known Rachel for a little while, and to be fair to her she was never ever going to go out with Dubstar Chris. For a starters she is about 21, he is just 17. She has her own car, he does not. She is funny, smart and seemingly very popular. Dubstar Chris is a bit of an arse.
Chris is now in a bad mood, which you can sort of understand, and he tells me that he is going home, which is a bit irritating because this means I have to kick about on my own in the shopping centre for the next hour – as that is when I am being picked up.
I wander into Our Price – largely because I was hoping that for some reason OPG might be working in here that day (she wasn’t, it wasn’t her store), but I also wanted to check out the 12 inches just in case there was something decent in there.
I pick up a couple of records and read the back covers in a pathetic attempt to waste time. I know that in about four minutes time I will be in WHSmith’s buying a magazine and the after that I will be sat in Burger King, trying to make a bean burger and fries last for thirty minutes.
As I turn round I see Rachel, she has popped from next door and she sees me and waves and walks over to me.
“Is he ok?” she asks me. I nod my head. I’ll be honest, I have a wee crush on Rachel from the bookshop, so I’m a little embarrassed but I think I manage to ride it out. Rachel laughs and said that Chris was sweet but she was really happy with Matt, who happens to be her boyfriend. I didn’t know about Matt. I decide that Matt is probably a very lucky man.
She tells me that she won’t mentioned this to Matt. I nod again and say that “it makes sense”. I apologise on Chris’s behalf. She laughs again and tells me not to worry about it.
Rachel suddenly reaches past me to grab a record and a waft of something fragrant hits me. Some of the older readers may remember, that in the early 90s The Body Shop used to do (and they still might) a range called White Musk and nearly every girl that meant anything to me, used it – but that was the first time I had ever smelt it. For some reason the 16 and a half year old me, thought it would be a wise thing to say to the most beautiful woman in the shopping centre
“You smell lovely”.
Not “I like your fragrance” or something else less weird but “you smell lovely”. I cringe now even typing it. Its Rachel’s turn to look a bit embarrassed (or on reflection just creeped out) she thanks me and tells me what it is “Its just White Musk from the Body Shop”
Queen – Perfume Genius (2014, Matador Records, Unknown Chart Position)
I rather too quickly say that I might buy some and then add, “for my girlfriend” and hope that she hadn’t noticed the pause. I mean that is what I meant but it still sounds like I’m a stalker or something.
Rachel is holding ‘Sheela Na Gig’ by PJ Harvey and I look at it and rapidly change the subject. “Is that good?” I ask. She nods and tells me that PJ Harvey is amazing. OPG had mentioned her a few weeks ago and I’d been meaning to check her out. Rachel tells me she has to go, and she walks very quickly to the counter, awkwardly waving at me as she leaves the store.
Bizarrely I had heard Polly Harvey sing before I even knew that PJ Harvey existed. In fact I’d seen Polly Harvey live before I even knew that PJ Harvey existed and that was because before her debut album came out she provided backing vocals on not one but two Family Cat singles and the first time I saw them live, she came on and sang her bits (supporting Carter at the ULU in London). The best of the two singles which feature her is
Colour Me Grey – The Family Cat (1991, Dedicated Records, Number 57)