Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We wouldn't sell that my luv - he's dead you know


Research for yesterday's post revealed that Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood once worked as a sales assistant in the Our Price record store in Oxford. Back in the late 1970s I went into Our Price in Staines and asked if they had the new LP of Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, only to be told "We wouldn't sell that my luv - he's dead you know". Fortunately I found the copy seen above elsewhere. The typographical view of Bernstein's LP appears here because, ten years later and after a protracted selection process, I was verbally offered the post of buying director of Our Price which was part of the WH Smith empire. When considerable time had passed without the offer being confirmed I asked what the delay was; to be told the personnel director was waiting for the results of an analysis of my handwriting from a graphologist in New York. Eventually the offer was confirmed, but I turned it down for other reasons. Even if I hadn't, I certainly wouldn't have been able to stop Our Price going to the wall together with every other high street record chain. But at least they would have gone to the wall with a decent stock of Stravinsky. In another company which I did work for the managing director, who was a shrewd businessman, was a firm believer in graphology and recounted how handwriting analysis correctly identified that a job candidate had had a testicle surgically removed. Elgar, Purcell and Mendelssohn to my knowledge did not suffer such unpleasant surgery. But they are among the composers whose handwriting has been analysed by graphologist Ruth Rostron - links here and here. Analysing the handwriting of composers makes sense because music is calligraphy using sounds.

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2 comments:

Pliable said...

Even if the Our Price chain is no more the link between WH Smith and graphology persists - http://www.is-guide.com/news/wh_smith_and_mitsubishi_pencil_offer_handwriting_analysis-7172.aspx

Pliable said...

Stephen Whitaker has posted this comment on Facebook:

Roy N. King and Derek J. Koehler (2000), "Illusory Correlations in Graphological Inference", Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 6 (4): 336–348 - - "A broad literature screen done by King and Koehler confirmed dozens of studies showing the mechanical aspects of graphology (slant, slope, etc.) are essentially worthless predictors of job performance".

To which I replied:

Stephen, quite so. When I came across the left testicle prediction thirty years ago I was among the great majority who dismissed graphology out of hand. But a growing disillusionment with Cartesian logic coupled with an increasing fascination with heretical concepts such as molecular entanglement and Bell's theorem mean that I am now more open-minded, if not a believer.