WITH news of the sad demise of HMV last week, a cartoon by @greedy_fish did the rounds online of the record shop’s famous dog being put down by a vet.
Not many companies have a logo that is so instantly recognisable around the world, one that could be flipped with such black humour to say it all at the final reckoning. The dog in the original phonograph was Nipper, a terrier unwittingly immortalised for generations by artist Francis Barraud. A measure of this totemic recognition is the good trade which exists in ‘Nipperie’, HMV memorabilia such as cocktail shakers, mugs and ashtrays.
The real Nipper wasn’t put down by a vet. He died of a stroke in 1895. Four years later, artist Francis Barraud sold his painting of Nipper next to a gramophone and the rest was history. What’s this all got to do with Camden? Barraud later died in north London and was buried at the Hampstead Cemetery in Fortune Green Road. West Hampstead. It might not be a pilgrimage site, but he’s there: a man who made a global icon. Plot N1/39 is the spot.
All of this is explained with greater gusto in a poem by West Hampstead writer and actor Edward Petherbridge in a film available on YouTube.