In 1997, the time of the first pressing of The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations, we really had no idea about how it would go down or how best to get it into the public view. We took every opportunity to try and get the word out about it, including the following.
Around the corner from THESE Records (who were distributing TCP) in Lambeth Road, is the Imperial War Museum, who were running an exhibition entitled The Secret War which is, “…the UK’s only permanent exhibition devoted to UK espionage”.
Naturally, we thought that the Imperial War Museum might like to stock some ‘SOR’ copies of TCP, as it dovetails nicely with the exhibition. All we would have to do is show it to them, and they should be sold on the idea.
‘SOR’ means ‘Sale Or Return’ – this is how it works. We deliver a box of seven or fourteen copies of TCP, they put them on display in the shop. If they sell, they pay us, if they do not sell, they return them to us. There is no money up front, no security deposit, no account needed; we trust them to pay us, and there is no risk to them whatsoever.
We delivered a sample copy to them with a letter about TCP. You can imagine how we laughed when we received this reply from The Imperial War Museum Shop.
Now, the paranoid would say that someone made a phone call and nixed TCP being stocked. The cynical would say, “they just didn’t get it”, and others will say, “It is just as stated”. Either way, it struck us as rather bizarre that something as germane to a comprehensive espionage exhibition as TCP is, an exhibition featuring amongst other things, ENIGMA machines, short wave radios, spy equipment of all sorts etc would be dismissed in this very odd way. One listen to TCP should have been enough to convince them to stock it. The idea of TCP seems very dry on the surface, but the fact of it is very different. Once you listen to it, it is instantly clear that TCP is the polar opposite of a remote and inaccessible, ‘specialised’ release.
Which of the above three reasons do you think stopped them from stocking TCP?