in Britain is actually declining. two compact discs are still sold for every one vinyl record.

Simon Burke continues apace.

‘CD is the principal music sales format. Cassettes will always be around. but vinyl is. frankly. on the way out in a major way. Virgin is committed to retaining vinyl albums on sale for as long as they are in demand and are available from record companies. Like any other business. we can only supply something if it‘s wanted in reasonable quantities. But eventually. there will come a point where British record companies will stop supplying their catalogue on vinyl.‘

And this. presumably. will lead to a growth in the market for imported vinyl discs. largely from Southern Europe where record sales are as strong as ever. Record Collector‘s

Fairs over here already report a growing presence of anti-CD. vinyl ‘purists‘ amongst their ranks. determined to champion the traditional recorded format. Are they fighting a losing battle‘.’

‘I hope not. I‘d encourage record companies not to be too hasty in their deletion ofvinyl catalogues. But it‘s an expensive business. keeping open vinyl factories. especially when sales are rapidly declining. I‘d reckon that in the near future I’d give it two years a lot of new chart product will not be released on vinyl. Back catalogues will be the first to go. however. but most major artists' hack catalogues are available on (‘ID.'

Richard Branson opens the new Virgin Megastore. 13] Princes Street, Edinburgh on Tuesday 31 Jul.


In Association with


Eve of Fringe Party II t


208 Cowgate. Edinburgh on




I A Concussed History oi Scotland Frank Kuppner (Polygon £7.95) In Kuppner‘s cluttered universe. God lurks somwhere in the background. shuffling his feet. And no doubt stifling a yawn. Kuppner‘s ‘novel ofsorts‘ attempts a comic rewriting of history as it actually is a task which demands before anything the elimination of God and the heralding of man‘s miniscule existence - in all its mundanity. Minute personal truths are magnified to a grotesque enormity, so that an ejaculation. a sigh. a fart. becomes as significant as a volcano. and Christ becomes a mere collection ofcells and undignified bodily functions. Kuppner‘s ‘omniscient author‘ is tossed between an egocentrism which erases the whole universe including his reader— and a nagging self-doubt which goes beyond the simple ‘Who am I'?‘ to the crashing ‘Am I'." The question is. do we care? The book is composed of 500 short chapters. fat with numerous earth-shattering observations. ‘No woman is an automatic vending machine‘. he muses. later adding the flipside ofthis thoughtful quip. ‘It is a little strange that we should feel the necessity for inventing imaginary Gods. when real vaginas exist.‘ Obscure for obscurity‘s sake. Kuppner creates a nothing out of everything. and for all I know he probably meant it. (Kathleen Morgan)


I Bluette Ronald Frame (Hodder & Stoughton £14.95) Pick your way along the trail ofsilken underwear strewn through this fiction like markers on a race course. and by the finishing line you will be more exasperated by the denouement than you were tantalised by the initial mysteries.

A frosted icing confection of labyrinthine imagination. Bluette tells the improbable life story of Catherine. a little girl fed dreams by a theatrical parent who commits suicide before appreciating the damage she has done.

Brought up by a well-meaning aunt. Catherine (later Bluette) becomes pregnant by a nice enough young man. who unfortunately absconds just when he is needed most. For the next few hundred pages. via numerous adventures and affairs. Catherine longs to be reunited: when she is. it is something ofa ghastly shock.

Meantime. however. she has carved herselfan excellent career as a ‘discreetly sexy' model. packing her unruly son off to fresh parents somewhere abroad. and happily forgetting him amid a roundelay of detached sex and bolts from the secretive past.

Dead bodies. unknown relatives and long-lost friends elbow for attention amongst passion-soaked sheets. interminably staccato dialogues. and a patina of 505 glamour culled directly. one feels. from post-war fashion plates and an unwarranted licence of authorial fantasy. The tragedy of Bluette is not. sadly. her unhappy story. but the utter indifference which her glass-house portrayal and the excesses of plot engender. (Rosemary Goring)


I Lady’s Maid Margaret Forster (Chatto and Windus £13.95) Elizabeth Wilson. The name rings no bell. She was the maid of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. and thanks to her devotion. the secret wedding and flight to Italy were possible for her frail. compelling mistress. Thanks to her patient attention the invalid. in principle a passionate supporter of liberty and human rights. lived to see the early struggles for Italian unity and. free of household chores and childcare. had the leisure to write her famous poetry.

Wilson was essential to the Brownings. In return. when she had the temerity to produce a son the inconvenience to them was such that she had to leave him with her sister in England or else leave their service. So much for human rights.

This much is known of her. and that 30 years after his mother‘s death she was taken in by Pen Browning and lived with him until she died. Intrigued by one who could remain so close to her mistress despite such shabby treatment. Margaret Forster has fleshed out these few facts and provides a plausible fictional account of the relationship between the two Elizabeths. Wilson’s growth in understanding and experience and her mistress‘s hold on her affection. Despite occasional discomfort when the tone seems more 20th than 19th century. this is a creditable effort. inducing respect and compassion for the maid. It ends with her lady’s death. leaving an opportunity for a sequel. (Sally Macpherson)


I Things. A Story of the Sixties; with A Man Asleep Georges Perec (Collins Harvill £12.50) Things.Perec’s first published novel and arguably his magnum opus. is here issued in Britain for the first time. It opens with a five-page description of a luxurious. yet tasteful and homely. Parisian apartment. Normally. I would ‘Tssh‘ in irritation at such a lengthy piece ofdescriptive prose. favouring as I do one-liners about being furnished in Georgian/Art Deco/MFI style. but by the end of Chapter One I was wishing I was the key-holder. ‘There would be a huge. bright kitchen with blue tiles. . . .‘ Why are Parisian kitchens. even

74 The List 27 July— 9 August I990