M FOR MINGUS – John Holland

– Are you going to fuck about with your vinyl again today? I thought we might do something together. For a change. Pub lunch maybe.

– But what if I can’t put my hand on an album I want to play?

– Yeah, that’s an accident waiting to happen. Why don’t I help you?

– What do you mean?

– Help – definition – to be of use or service. You tell me what order you want your bloody records in and I’ll put them in that order. Then it doesn’t take up your entire life on earth.

– Is this another of your tricks? Look, I’m on Jazz. Letter M. The records are in alphabetical order by the musician’s surname. But if the surname is identical, for example Gil and Bill Evans…

– Gil and Bill – lovely couple.

– Are you taking this seriously? As I said, if the surnames are the same, I put them in alphabetical order by the first name. So Bill Evans comes before Gil Evans.

– I bet Bill’s pleased about that. Not so much Gil.

– They’re both dead.

– That’s jazz for you.

– Then within the oeuvre of a specific musician I put the records in chronological order. So the albums by the same person are in the order in which they were released. 

– I think some of them were never released – they just escaped.

– The date of release is not to be confused with the recording date. 

– As if!

– The release date might be on the back cover, but it’s usually on the label in the middle of the record itself. 

– This IS fascinating!

– When it’s a group or band like The Modern Jazz Quartet or The Partisans I ignore the definite article.

– Yeah, some articles can be way too definite. I advocate a measured approach to certainty.

– Just think of all the bands I’d need to file under the word ‘The’! It would be madness.

– Madness? Surely they’re not THE Madness. That would be One Step Beyond!

– Ha ha. Very funny. They’re not even Jazz. Putting Mingus records in order is very interesting.  Some of his albums were released under the name CHARLES Mingus and others under the name CHARLIE Mingus.

– Overly familiar for a man of his stature.

– I keep them all together, because, after all, it’s the same musician.

– Who would have guessed? But here’s another question for you. Where exactly do I come? 

– What do you mean?

– You know what I mean.

– Well, with the surname Nicholson you come between Fats Navarro and King Oliver.

– That’s what I thought you’d say.


John Holland is a multi-prize winning short fiction author from Gloucestershire in the UK. His work is widely published in anthologies and online. John aso runs the twice-yearly event Stroud Short Stories. Website – www.johnhollandwrites.com Twitter @JohnHol88897218