Friday after work. I’m in a bookshop in town and a man says to a woman: “isn’t it terrible about Laser.”
So I learn that Laser is shutting down. The best DVD rental store in Dublin. They had everything, from Pépé Le Moko to The Usual Suspects.
I walk up to George’s Street. Big sign in the window. I go in and they have two books of condolences on the table. One of them is full. “The reaction’s been amazing,” one of the guys says. “If only we had half of them renting over the last couple of months.”
They’re selling all of their DVDs, most of them for €6. There’s an autographed picture of Jon Voigt on the wall (€25) and they’re selling framed copies of the photo from the end of The Shining.
All of the guys are out of a job, come Monday week. I ask one of them what he’s going to do. He’s been working there thirteen years. His brother runs a pub down the country and he needs some staff, so he might help out there for a while. They all loved working in Laser, and any of them who left said it was the best job they ever had.
First they closed in Ranelagh. Then they closed in Andrew’s Street. And now George’s St – the last one – is gone. They brought a photocopier in a year ago. I don’t know – hoping people would photocopy stuff and then think of renting a movie. It was when I saw the Western Union sign on the wall that I got worried. But you hope.
People were browsing through the shelves, buying five, six DVDs. If you asked me to name ten good films I wouldn’t have been able to, right then. I loved going in there. I was upset about it. I liked talking to the guys. It was one of those places where you think, when you’re in there: This is my kind of place.
But there you go. 2014, and I haven’t downloaded a movie. We didn’t even watch House of Cards on Netflix, we rented it. But look, I’m still buying CDs. And there’s only one other bunch of people in the world buying CDs – the Japanese – and no one knows why they or I continue to do this. We just prefer it. But at least over there, there’s strength in numbers.