We get what we pay for…and if we don’t…

Churches account for a significant amount of this country’s built heritage. Many towns and villages see their church buildings as major landmarks and something without which local life would not be the same. And yet a fraction of the public money available to preserve our heritage goes on maintaining churches.

Churches are very expensive things to maintain, especially as many of them are listed. Many parishes simply do not have enough money to keep them up. The Church of England equally does not have the central resources to do so. As yet people expect the churches to be there almost as a birthright.

It is probably sacrilegious to say so but the current trials and tribulations at HMV strike me and many others in much the same way. Record shops used to be religious communities in their own right. Indeed when I was a teenager, visiting HMV in Oxford Street was almost like a pilgrimage. It was a place where I could look out the more obscure records that my local WH Smith would not stock. Hours could be spent browsing the racks of vinyl records before emerging into the afternoon sunlight which a number of new acquisitions that I could not wait to get home and listen to (OK it was a pain to take them back if they were scratched but we won’t dwell on that).

Up until a few years ago I did spend significant sums of money in HMV but like a number of people I now buy or download online. The reason – it is just so much cheaper (oh and HMV no longer seems to stock vinyl). It is still fun to browse there but clearly not enough such that I am prepared to pay for it.

I guess much of this mirrors what is happening in high streets up and down the land especially since the demise of Woolworths. Indeed years and years ago there used to be a couple of record shops in my local high street. Of course they disappeared when people started buying discounted records at WH Smith or Virgin Megastores (remember them?) or HMV.

People want their churches to stay as churches but would not dream of worshipping in them. Shoppers bemoan the demise of the high street and their local shops as they scurry into Tesco for their weekly shop. I will continue to download music or buy it from Amazon while regretting the disappearance of local record shops. We get what we pay for – and if we are not prepared to pay for it then perhaps we should not be surprised if it no longer exists.

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