One of the many pleasing things about Palm 2 is that its in-store music isn't ambient. It isn't sonic wallpaper, chosen for its tranquilising effect on Clapton's consumers they walk the aisles in search of chocolate fingers or tzatziki dip. I've had intense encounters with Aretha Franklin while shopping there, and sociological stimulation inspired by static-free exposure to Classic FM. The other day, though, I had my first disagreement with the aural element of the Palm 2 experience. It is, perhaps, a further tribute to the establishment's appeal that even this had transformed into a source of happiness by the time I left the premises.
I didn't identify the unpleasant noise at first, though as I tracked down bay leaves and medium sliced Hovis white I began to suspect that it was something I'd expended past energies on trying to avoid. And so it proved. As I began my journey towards the till, a lumbering guitar riff brought back bleak memories of youthful disagreements about the true meaning of progressive music and what qualified as good taste. At any second a droning voice was going to intone the words, "Shine on you crazy diamond."
It was time to pay and go.
"Why Pink Floyd?" I asked Abdullah's eldest son.
"Yeah, why Pink Floyd?" asked that eldest son, his curiosity aroused, as Abdullah himself appeared.
"Why not Pink Floyd?" Abdullah smilingly replied. "Every day, something different. Today Pink Floyd. Tomorrow, Rolling Stones. Next day, who knows?"
I was now in dilemma. On the one hand, I didn't want to hear any more Pink Floyd in Palm 2. On the other, I could see that playing a long, tedious track from a mid-Seventies Pink Floyd album might appeal to an important section of what seems to have become Palm 2's bedrock demographic in the continuing counter-offensive against Tesco Express.
This dilemma did not stop me from expounding a key part of my objection to Pink Floyd, which extends beyond musical considerations and into the realm of ethics. The problem with people who liked Pink Floyd, back when I was lad, was that they owned incredibly elaborate and expensive stereo systems but only one record - and that record was always by Pink Floyd. This was, to my mind, an unnatural state of affairs. A more wholesome set of priorities was to have a cheap, tinny stereo system and a great mountain of records containing songs of many different genres, none of them exceeding four minutes in length.
Abdullah and his son endured my exposition like the gentlemen they are, as did a couple of fellow customers. One these, a woman who, disturbingly, looked far too young to have had any previous exposure to Pink Floyd, briefly mounted a moderate defence of the band before realising that I was impervious to reason, paying for her fair trade coffee beans and leaving. Meanwhile, behind the counter, people were weighing Pink Lady apples, demonstrating rudimentary conversation pieces in Arabic and perhaps wondering if I should be seeking help - the usual stuff.
In the end, a compromise settlement effortlessly emerged: Abdullah turned the Pink Floyd down a bit and I left with my shopping, amply compensated by the prospect of using that anecdote about rudimentary Arabic conversation pieces in a future blog post. I love Palm 2. I love it even to a soundtrack of Pink Floyd.