by Ray Fleming

I had to calm down my kennel of HMV Nipper dogs yesterday. They occupy part of a shelf in my study. I have collected them from different parts of the world and they vary considerably in size.

Naturally they were concerned at the news of HMV's financial collapse and closure of 235 stores in Britain but I told them that since the first Nipper was born in 1899 and is still going strong they will be quite safe despite the bad news. I also pulled down my copy of On and Off The Record, a memoir of Walter Legge, one of the greatest classic record producers of all time, by his wife Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, one of the greatest operatic singers of her time. On the cover of the book they are shown together superimposed on an HMV record with a faithful Nipper at the bottom. Legge had joined HMV when he was twenty.

Nipper peering into his master's voice coming from the big loudspeaker of a wind-up gramophone was one of the great trade marks of all time.
It seems almost unbelievable that a high street company which posted record profits only two years ago should now be in administration. The recession and the preference for internet sales and downloading have killed it. The thousands of classical recordings remain, thank goodness, some of the finest ever made.

Long live Nipper!

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