Antother adventure with “That’s Entertainment”. And crisps

Long suffering viewers will know I collect CDs, to the point of hoarding, so I’m always on the lookout for a bargain or seven.

I attended work (for only three times this week, thank you peepers), and a colleague, who is also into music informed me that the “That’s Entertainment” store at Dalton Park was closing down. This was good news to me. It meant that they’ll be having a “clearance event”, and getting shot of a load of old stock that they can’t be bothered to ship off to other stores, or back to the magical warehouse, full of whimsy and music.

Saturday came around all too quickly, and off I jolly well popped. Usual route to Peterlee, and then I’d get the 22 bus from there to Dalton Park. No dramas. Excfept I found that a rival company had started running a service that goes pretty much directly to Dalton Park, and it stops at the bottom of Mercuryvapour Towers’ leafy driveway, give or take a few hundred metres. So, I could have saved myself the hassle of waiting half an hour for a bus. Anyway, I rattle on enough about buses on Facebook, I’m sure you don’t care on this.

Aaaaanyway. Two bus journeys, and I find myself outside of Dalton Park. It’s a weird shaped shopping complex, rather like half a horseshoe, with strange plastic sheeting covering the aisles. You know, the stuff that’s permanent, but goes mouldy really quickly, so looks rotten after a couple of years. I didn’t come here for any other shop other than “That’s Entertainment”, and I skipped on merrily by, as I ignored the rest of the shops..

In the window, there was a sign that said “75% off all replay stock”. Those are the second hand CDs which I was looking for! This could be interesting. A quick glance around the shop showed that most of the things worth anything (for me, CDs) had already disappeared – either been sold, or sent back to the warehouse. Not sure, but my heart sank a little when I noticed *the* little blue table. This was where the 49p CDs were housed. It was completely empty. Not a disc in sight. Couldn’t help but think my journey was completely wasted. That was, until I took 5 steps forwards, and noticed an almost entire wall, crammed full of 49p CDs.

And, not only were there thousands of them, but it turns out they were actually giving them away at 12p each, and multi-disc sets actually counted as one disc. Sometimes, they’re a bit picky about that, but the deal of the collection was 5 Simon + Garfunkel CDs and a DVD for that very price. 2p a disc. Thank you to the totally random guy who tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I’d be interested in it. Yes, sir. Yes, I would.

At some point, I’d ventured the shop looking for a shopping basket, as the pile of loose discs I’d picked out was looking pretty precarious. This also meant selecting discs was a lot easier. they’d just get thrown in, and I could sort them out later.

After about 2 hours, I gave in. I was in pain from repetitiveness, standing with my head slumped, looking down as my halds flipped quickly through the CDs was starting to give me neck ache. I don’t think I touched half of the stock. Nothing more that could have been done. I did end up with a couple of duffers, namely 2 pirated Now 74 discs, and a Now 31 disk, professionally pirated. Both of which I had anyway, but if I had checked the discs before I took them to the counter, they’d be in a skip right now.

The day wasn’t over. [Person who doesn’t like to be named in public] picked me up, and we went through to Newcastle. A walk-around the usual shops, including a check in PC World to see if the hard drive prices had gotten any lower (they hadn’t), and a quick perv in All Saints because some of the ladies in there have really nice bottoms. (Careful, Jamie, some of the girls might be offended by that – Ed). Oh, OK, They ALL have lovely bottoms.

The day was nearing an end, and I had one last stop to make. A chain store named “Bargain Buys” sell these really nice crisps.

Daddykins also likes these particular crisps, and a multipack of 6 different types are £1, so I thought I’d stock up, and get 4 packs. I get to the till, and the guy offers me a 50-pack box of Golden Wonder “snacks” (Cheesy balls, Onion Rings, and Salt ‘n’ Vinegar Sticks) for £1 because the expiry date was the day after. Personally, I think they had a little competition between the staff members, as when I agreed to purchase, he seemed overly enthusiastic. Still, crisps don’t go poisonous overnight, and almost a week later, they’re still perfectly edible.

This was where I originally was going to conclude the blog, as the bargain hunting was over for the day. I never fully finished writing it, as I got sidetracked by Pinball, or something. 2 sleeps later, Monday arrived. It was an uneventful day at work at Employment Palace. I finished, headed for the bus, and missed it by about a minute. Oh well. Thankfully, this job, unkile my last one, means that if I miss a bus, I can just cut through the shopping centre, and get all number of buses (Three, actually) close to Mercuryvapour Towers.

So, I begin to cut through the shopping centre. One of my new haunts is a shop called “ReNew”, which is a bit like “That’s Entertainment”, albeit with less organisation. CDs are placed on the shelf by letter, but it’s a gamble whether the letter is the artist, or the album title. The are also large wooden bins where CDs are just thrown in without order. Everything is £2 per disc, or 3 for £5.

Anyhooooo, this particular Monday, I walked past, and there were balloons outside, and staff holding charity donation buckets. Normally, I’d go in the opposite direction at the site of such a contraption, but I was curious. It turns out they were laving a literal stock clearance, and giving everybody who went in there 10 CDs / DVDs (in total), as long as you put a donation in the bucket.

I donated every penny I had on me at the time, and I hope my 65p helps!

Goodbye Micro Mart, I shall remember you fondly.

Ah, so 2017 starts off with the first sad death of the year… my favourite little magazine… “Micro Mart”.

Well, OK, technically, it died last year, as this last issue is dated 29th December – 31st Never, but still, I didn’t find out until I was browsing a local WH smith.

I must start by saying , I wasn’t a prolific reader, and instead decided to just pick up an occasional issue, either when looking for a new PC (or parts for an existing PC). In fact, it was waay back in 1996, when one of my old college lecturers told me about it, and especially one of their advertisers, called something like “Page 72”, who, you guessed it, always ran their adverts on Page 72. I’m probably wrong with the page number there, but I always thought it was a nifty little martketing tool. You’d always know where to find them!

In fact, I bought my very first computer from out of a Micro Mart advert, around that same time, possibly from that very first issue I bought. Of course, way back in 1996, the internet barely existed. For me, it had only just started existing, and I certainly didn’t have the ability to shop for a new PC. I relied on the pages of Micro Mart to tell me what I was looking for. And it didn’t disappoint.

My very first PC was a Pentium 166Mhz (With MMX no less!), 16Mb RAM, 2Gb hard drive, and a 1Mb graphics card. Eventually, I outgrew this little machine, and the next one I bought also came from the hallowed pages of Micro Mart.

Time gre on, the internet became plentiful, and I didn’t really rely on Micro Mart for anything after that, but my love for it didn’t die. In the back of my mind, I’d be in a service station somewhere, or an airport, and I’d think to myself “Well, I’ll need something to fill the journey time”, and I’d walk out with a copy of MM under my arm. Sometimes I’d even pay for it!

Ho ho, I jest. In all seriousness, print medium when it comes to computer magazines is shrinking all of the time. Although there’s roughly 100 feet of shelf space in every large WH Smith, the computer section is dwindling rapidly. The vast majority of what’s left, taken up with “special” publications which seem to hang around for months, and the old established monthlies (and in MM’s case, even more frequent) are going to the great paper pulper in the sky. And I, for one, will miss them.

RIP Micro Mart.

It’s a complicated entry into 2017!

And you’re welcome to it! I can’t guarantee what time this post will appear, but I can guarantee it’ll be in the following year it’s typed from, for you see, although I’ll set the post to automatically release its contents at a second past midnight in the year of our lord 2017, it won’t appear until someone visits the website. Something about it triggering cron jobs, or something. Sounds rude, anyway.

So, going by my current visitor tally, and people who actually read this, it’ll appear around 3rd January… everyone will be going back to work, and not giving a flying toss about what I’m typing or who it’s aimed at.

I think I wished a happy 2016. That went well. Just do whatever you can to survive in 2017, and I might write shit about it.

So, this is Christmas 2016

… And what have you done, I hear you ask, for yet another recycled introduction to the Christmas blog post. It’s the first time I’ve done one of these in a couple of years. Well, a proper one anyway, mainly because for the last couple of years, I’ve been busy on Xmas eve. This year, however, I’ve gone and caught myself a rotter of a cold, so I’m just sat at home, feeling sorry for myself. And if you’d like to leave a sympathy comment in the boxes below, well, that’s be just lovely.

So, as usual, I’ve felt as festive as a turkey about this time of year. I’ve been to absolutely no parties this year, and I’ve only been out a couple of times, and neither of those times were particularly festive. Not a beard bauble in sight, and only a hint of a Xmas jumper.

First, let me clear up something I started off in the last post, but because I rambled too long about getting lost in Stockton, I sort-of forgot about it.

“Another year older, and no longer in debt”

You ssee, since January last year, I’ve owed a lad called Chris a tenner. Not the Chris who has been mentioned many times on this blog, but a Chris I used to work with. Back in (I think) January, we’d went for a “works” night out. I no longer work for the company in question, but I still thankfully get invited to their nights out in the town. Unfortunately, on this incredibly cold January night, I’d made one massive error of judgement, and forgot to go to a cashpoint. This was shit news. It meant I had a six-mile walk home, at mignight, with snow on the ground. Bugger. Thankfully, he was at hand to line my pockets weith the Queens’ face, and this small gesture was not forgotten.

11 months passed, and I didn’t see Chris again, until 9th December, when I was able to pay the tenner back, and I could, once again, hold my head up high as a well upstanding citizen.

Right, anyway, enough of that. Back to the topic.

2016 has taken another figure of my Xmas childhood, as I learned a few minutes ago that Rick Parfitt, out of Status Quo, has died, which is a shame. Status quo always reminds me of Xmas, because I got a tape of theirs when I was about 9. You could say this would have been the beginning of my proper music collection, as for that year, I got my first dual tape deck. And I loved it so. I even remember taking that tape deck on holiday with me to Sandy Bay.

Here’s the Discogs entry for the album, for those playing along with at home.

So, tomorrow is the big day. For the first time, I’ll be somewhere else, and not sat around my computer, but I can guarantee, somewhere between then and now, I’ll be squeezing a couple of games of Rocket League in…

I might even squeeze in a review of the year before we kick 2016 into the rubbish bin where it belongs.

The way it… was?

Not really much of a post, and it’s probably one I’ll elaborate further at some point (no I won’t), but just to say that Bruce Hornsby has released an entirely live version of the album “The Way it Is”, seeing as it’s now 30 years old.

There’s a link here for those wanting to reflect, 2016 style, on what was, to me anyway, a great album. It’s a free MP3 download, lossless and better quality for those who like paying full whack for music. (EDIT: The site does ask for your email address. I’m sure we all have enough throwaway email addresses for this not to be a worry.)

Nice of him to actually still do tracks from his early albums in his live shows. I do like hearing it live, and there’s plenty of example on Youtube, seeing as there’s no official remixes of it, no extended versions, etc. There is an instrumental version on the B side of “Every Little Kiss”, (along with a different version of “the River Runs Low”, from the album (unless you had the very first pressing, but let’s not get too geeky here (Oooo, nested brackets))) but it’s not that different.

Download it. Or don’t I’ll not lose any sleep.