My record collection is complete

21:01

I know some of you are itching to find out what happened on Day 2 of the Amsterdam trip. Yeah, well, that’ll have to wait for a little bit, because I’ve just had a moment that is so heart-stoppingly brilliant that I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that I now have every record I want, with the exception of songs that I don’t know the name of, but then, they’re going to be pretty hard to find if I don’t know what they are!

Anyway, this is the vinyl varmint that has been on my wanted list since as long as I can remember…

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It’s the theme to very short-lived gameshow Interceptor. Though you could possibly work that out by the look of the cover. And I now own a copy. Let me take you back, to the very beginning. 1989 to be precise.

Channel 4’s long running gameshow “Treasure Hunt” has been axed, and Chatsworth Television had a similar, but more exciting gameshow. Technology had come a long way since the days of Treasure Hunt, where “Sky-runner” Anneka Rice would run around, solving clues, with the help of a helicopter, and two contestants in the studio, guiding her around a course, sometimes thousands of miles away. Obviously, the only communications they had was via radio, and Anneka’s live scenes were recorded by two blokes, Graham and Frankie. One of them would carry a camera, and the other would carry a huge “portable” U-Matic tape machine on his chest.

Anneka Rice had gone off to pop a sprog, and was replaced by Annabel Croft for the final series.

Treasure Hunt was a fun program (which also had a theme composed by Zack Laurence. It’s called “Peak Performance” if you really want to dig around for it. It’s commercially available.

So, as I was saying. Treasure hunt had came to an end. The two helicopters used to film Treasure Hunt, were redeployed for Interceptor.

This show was a little more complicated than TH. Let’s see if I can explain it without rushing off to Wiki.

Annabel Croft was re-used for this show. She was the presenter, and also the “middle-man”. The show has two contestants. Each with a backpack. One has the prize money in it (£1,000), and the other is empty. The two players get dropped in a helicopter in random parts of the countryside. Once this is complete, a 40-minute timer starts. They have to explain to Annabel where they are. Once Annabel finds where they are on a map, a waypoint lights up. This is the location of the key to the other person’s box. They have to find each other’s key, then meet up and touch hands to stop the clock.

Oh, but there’s a twist. “The Interceptor”. And it was a brilliant twist. Hats off to the guy to thought of this one. One the back of each person’s backpack is a series of infra-red receptors. The Interceptor has his own helicopter, and can fire an infra-red beam to the receptors, and this will lock the box permanently. Obviously, the Interceptor wasn’t just confined to a helicopter, he had access to a car, motorbike, and even a horse. I can’t remember if that was actually used, but it was in the opening credits.

The whole point was that the Interceptor, played by Sean O’Kane, was a villain. A bloody brilliant pantomime villain. There were some moments where he would see the contestants from the helicopter, and then sneak up on them. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy for the contestants to hide, as they’d have a bloke with a 1989-style TV camera following them.

It worked. It really worked. Everything worked, but just like everything good from the 1980s, it was shit-canned faster than you can say “IIIIIII LIKE IT!” . 8 episodes were produced.

So, enough of the warble that you could have easily looked up on Wikipedia, why this particular theme? Why did “I Like It”? (By the way, that’s the Interceptor’s catchphrase). Hard for me to say. I just do. Many, many years ago, I found that the theme had been released as a single. I’m thinking about 1998 here. Sime time later, I found an MP3 of it, both the A side and the B side. Unfortunately, it had been recorded in pretty low quality. It was still listenable, but hell, I’ll get the 7″. And so the search began

It can’t be that difficult. The bloke who ran “Interceptor’s Lair” has a copy, because that’s where I downloaded it from. Must be millions out there.

Well.

No, is the simple answer to that. People who know me know I love my records. People who know me actually despise the fact that I love my records, because if they’re out anywhere with me, I drag them around every record shop, every market stall, every second hand shop I can find Every place that is likely to sell records, I’m in there.

Naturally, I’ve been looking for other things too, hence the fact my record collection’s just got too big to manage. But deep down, in my gut, I knew that “rock Revolution wasn’t part of the collection. I trawled eBay. Two copies turned up for ridiculous amounts of money. And I mean ridiculous. I think one of them was £22. I have a screenshot somewhere.

So, today, then, and the fateful moment that allowed me to complete the collection.

Jamie S had rang me yesterday. He’d been working away, and was back home this morning, and wanted to know if I fancied doing something. My reply of “Do members of the ursidae line of mammals defecate in large wooded areas?” confirmed that I was freer than the afore mentioned ursine after a dose of curried prunes.

He had an errand to run, in Sunderland. Now, this is where I think fate kicked in. Does fate exist? I don’t know. Maybe this was just an extremely lucky course of events, but hey. There’s got to be some order to all of this.

We arrived in Sunderland, and proceeded to walk down Charity Shop Alley. It’s a row of shops with about eight charity shops in them. Jamie cracked a joke about something, and I said “For that, I’m going to have a look in this charity shop”. We laughed, and he continued walking. He wanted to find the place where this errand must be carried out. About 10 minutes later, he rang me and we met back at the train station. The call ended with “I’ve found something you might like”. Cor. My interest was piqued. He’d found a record shop that had just opened. It was a record / music / coffee shop type place.

I walked past, and looked through the window. There didn’t seem to be much in there. A row of records, a drum kit, some chairs, nothing substantial. I said I’d have a look in, but I’d probably end up in “That’s Entertainment”. It’s a chain of record shops that sell CDs, often hard to find ones, but for pennies. They often have 49p CDs, without cases, which are entirely random. I assume they’re rejects from proper CDs that had damaged cases, etc. You know this anyway, if you follow my music collection.

We went to McDonalds first. There was still some time to kill. Food was devoured, and Jamie was going to head off to Errandsborough, and I was going to go to That’s Entertainment. I was stopped in my tracks by the fact that “That’s Entertainment” had now closed. Gah! I think I know why they keep disappearing and reappearing, but this would be wild speculation.

Oh well, I thought I’d give that new record shop a go anyway. The stock consisted of stuff that looked like it came from a charity shop. 30p stickers, overridden by a £1.00 sticker on the other side. Never mind. I’d have a dig through. There were a couple of 12″ singles that sparked by interest, but for £1 each, I’d leave them there for now. I looked around and found a few boxes of 7″ singles.

I had an odd feeling. There would be something in there. The records just seemed the right era. There was a hand-written poem by someone on one record, which they clearly liked… “If this record attempts to roam, smack its bum and send it home”. I was tempted to buy it just because it made me smile, but it went back in the rack.

Jamie rang me shortly after, asking where I was. He didn’t see me in that record shop, probably because I was kneeled down. I explained about this, and come and entered the shop. He can’t have been in there more than 30 seconds when I pulled this out. This elusive, round, piece of black plastic that has chased me round the internet for nigh on two decades. My search was over.

I can’t possibly convey in a way that is meaningful what happened next, and I don’t expect anyone that doesn’t collect stuff to even know what this feels like. It’s like blood drained from my entire body for a split second, then rose back up. If Jamie had happened to have his phone recording, it’d went viral. It’s like a quest had ended.

It was an odd feeling. After finding the “Fourscore” record a couple of weeks ago, this was by last holy grail. The last piece of plastic that was never released on CD, and never available other than the original release. Even Darryl Way’s “Little Plum” proved much less elusive than this.

It was a feeling like “wow, I never have to go into a charity shop again. I never have to put my back out, trawling through dusty, mislabelled boxes, asking awkwardly how much the singles were.

I’ll never be on the lookout for that black, white and yellow cover. I have it now. It’s mine. I’m going to stick it in a safe deposit box in Hatton Gardens…. Maybe not.

I’ve naturally played it, and it’s noisy. Especially the B side. But I don’t care. It’s the charm of collecting records. Someone has played it before me. Played it many times. Maybe left it out of the cover for a bit. It’s had a home. Lost that home, and found a permanent one here. I’ve spent several hours typing this now, and I still glance to my left, there it is, “Rock Revolution”. I can’t believe it’s actually here.

God, I need a shag.

Amsterdam, day 1

I’ve just came back from a few days away, and my first visit to Amsterdam. Technically it’s my second, but you can hardly call Schiphol airport a visit.

So, the journey started on Tuesday morning. There were a group of about 12 of us, who meet up on a Monday night in the Mill House.

We boarded the coach, and instead of being all in a group, it turned out we were scattered all over the coach. We’d block-booked, so you’d have thought we’d all be in the same area of the coach, but no. Not that it actually mattered, because the next pickup was in Hull. I was perfectly happy with my seat anyway. Right at the back, and with a window seat. Couldn’t have been better. It gave me chance to photograph the loveliness of Hartlepool town centre, and the journey to Hull, which is where we would embark our floating hotel.

There was a brief stop in Ferrybridge, long enough to partake in some chips from Burger King. I also invested in two bottles of water. At 2 500ml bottles for £2, it was almost double the price of petrol. Still, it was cheaper than the pop, and with arguably less sugar, this was to be my choice.

Of course, that is, until we arrived in Hull. We got chance to have a stop-off which meant only one thing… a pub. Apparently, the nearest Weatherspoon’s was about 10 minutes’ walk away, so we just picked a street and headed down it, hoping for the best. It wasn’t long until we’d found a little place, namely “The Masters Bar”. Therefore, at 2PM, the first pint of the trip was to be consumed.

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The place was small. Really small. The beer was cheap and the locals friendly. Really couldn’t go wrong. It was freezing when we got in there, but it started warming up, or maybe that was the beer kicking in.

We had to be back at the bus station for 3:40PM. The other pick-up had already embarked by the time we’d got there, so the bus was a little more full than it was originally. Well, that’s natural, but you know what I mean.

There was only about 20 minutes left of the bus trip, and we arrived in the Hull docks at just after 4. Of course, there was the obligatory sit-around for about an hour while the customs searched the bus and checked the passports. Everything was in order, and none of us got dragged off the bus in handcuffs. That would have been a blog entry on its own.

Eventually, we got on board. I was surprised at how big it was, even though it’s the maritime equivalent of a Cityhopper plane. There was also the trick of working out who I was sharing the cabin with. There’d be two of us to a cabin, and after the bus mix-up, I wasn’t with who I was expecting!

I don’t think anything quite prepared me for just how small the cabins were going to be. I gathered they’d had to be small, but just how small would be a surprise. Turns out I didn’t take a photo so I’d just have to try and describe it. For those who have never been on one of these budget cruises before, the room was about 6 feet wide, and that’s including the beds attached to the wall. If one of us wanted to get past the other, we’d either have to get on the bed or press right against the wall.

Amenities were scarce. There weren’t any, basically. You’d have thought that seeing as the ship sailed between Rotterdam and Hull constantly, that there’d be two types of plug sockets on-board. No. Apparently, these must have cost extra to fit, because there was only one European socket. Or maybe it was the “special” cabins that got these. Needless to say I didn’t pack my European adaptor. Three days for my devices to survive.

Thankfully, I’d invested in an emergency battery charger while I was in Asda a few weeks ago, so I knew I’d at least get an extra few hours out of my phone. The camera would just have to survive on whatever juice it had remaining.

Anyway, back to the cabin. The only other thing in there, except for two bunk beds, was the bathroom. This was amazingly small. Shower, sink and toilet. This was also my first encounter with one of those vacuum toilet things. I was a bit alarmed when I was stood there having a pee to see the water level rise. I thought the toilet was blocked. Then I realised, you had to close the lid, and flush. There was an almighty roar, everything had gone, and the water level had returned to normal. Phew.

So, the next job was to find the bar. After all, there wasn’t going to be much else to do on the journey. A green sign on the wall read “Irish Bar”. Yup. This’ll do. Turns out there was literally nothing Irish about it Admittedly, they *were* playing The Corrs, but it was just the same as the other bars (there were three overall). A pint of Becks as £3.70. It could have been worse. It’s not as if you could nip over the road and get one, was it? You could have, of course, bought duty free on the ferry, but you weren’t allowed to drink it on the ship. You’d have to buy it and then pick it up as you got off the ferry on the return journey.

A couple of pints were consumed, and then we headed into the restaurant. I pictured scenes of dodgy, cold food, served to you as a set meal, slopped onto a plate. I can happily report this was not the case. If you didn’t like what was on offer, then you didn’t like food. There was everything. Including curry, and it was all-you-can-eat. Well, I was in my element. Unlimited curry. Of course, we hadn’t left the port yet, so I wasn’t quite sure how great my sea legs would be, and if I’d be spewing up everywhere within the first few miles. And, of course, I wanted to leave room for the beer.

Dinner was completed successfully, and we ended up in the main bar. This would be the one where all of the “entertainment” was to be taking place. A large projector was showing what else you could do on board, such as the cinema, piano lounge, etc. The cinema would have cost money, so this was scratched immediately off the menu. There was also a casino. Was I feeling lucky? Good lord, no. I gave that a suitably wide berth, unlike the cabin I’d be sleeping in.

We all ended up downstairs in the main bar. Of course, the first showing was of the obligatory safety video. Don’t panic. This is where your life jackets are. Mackerel have the right of way, and so on. This was to be the best entertainment. They even showed it three times, in different languages.

Of course, if you weren’t in the bar at the time, you won’t have seen the video, so I have no idea what everyone else would have done… it soon became crystal clear why.

Because if you’ve been on this ship more than once, you’d know to avoid the on-board entertainment like the plague. Now, I’ve been taught that if you can’t say nice things about anybody, then don’t say anything at all.

Next morning we…. Hahah, I jest. Seriously, this was the worst sound system I have ever heard. Below is a picture of where we were sat, and the proximity to the stage.

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It was so quiet, you couldn’t actually understand what they were saying, and the choices of songs were absolutely atrocious. It was strange hearing the lady singing songs quite clearly meant for blokes to sing. Examples of this escape my mind. The backing tracks sounded like they’ve been put through one of those internet tools that you can use to strip vocals off and just leave the instrumentals behind. The results were astonishing.

There were three of them, the singer, a bassist and a guitarist. The bassist seemed utterly pointless, as the tracks already had a bassline. In fact for the last part of the show, he just gave up and sat in the audience. The singer was just about there, and the guitarist did perform pretty well. None of them were anything to write home about… oh wait, I just did.

It suddenly became apparent that while you were sat down, you didn’t realise that much you were on a ferry. The movement wasn’t too bad. It was only when you got up to go for a pee, you run into problems. I nipped to the bogs, and pointed Petite Percy at the porcelain, only to almost fall backwards. I thought the Becks was kicking in… nope, just the movement of the ship. Phew.

It must have been about 1 when I called it a night. The times were hazy. Literally. Was it GMT? Was it CET? All I knew is that there would be a tannoy announcement to wake us up. My cabin buddy had already retired to the cabin many hours before. Attempting to sleep would be an experience, but I’d became prepared. I’d preloaded the23rd anniversary of “Crap From The Past”, hosted by Ron Boogiemonster Gerber onto my MP3 player. This turned out to be a smart move. I never knew that “What’s Love Got To Do With It” was originally recorded by Bucks Fizz. No, really.

After that eye opener, my eyes closed, and the slow rhythmic vibration of the ship lulled me off to sleep…

Things that are still getting updated

Having a front page that pretty much kills the site off was a bad idea. I’m still updating parts of the site, even if the blogging’s taken an indefinite break. I’m not dead, and neither is the site…. There’s are the things wot are still getting updated.

The Gallery
The Music Collection

Please feel free to keep an eye on those as they’re updated regularly. I’m still on facebook, twitter, email (webmaster@mercuryvapour.co.uk – if I know you, I’ll reply with a decent email address, this one’s got spam filters up to the eyeballs)

Database error

A database connection could not be established. And by that, I actually mean I’m sick of looking at a blog that hasn’t been updated for nonths Months. There is no error, I’ve just deleted all of the posts. Back soon with something even more boring. Honest.

EDIT: Thanks ‘e’ for noticing the question. To answer why it’s in every category. It’s because I wanted a brief explanation on why the posts are no longer on there, and not leave dud links on the front page, but it’s all academic now anyway, so I’ve took them off.

People of ZX Spectrum land!

I’ve been going through some old tapes, and found the following (rather knackered) recording. I have no recollection which game it’s from, but if you do, I’d appreciate it if you let me know!

[UPDATE 10/2/2014]
Poot, 28 comments and 160+ downloads of the file and still no further forward! I’ll keep searching. Thanks all for the help so far though!

[UPDATE 19/11/2014]
Added this to the Spectrum 4 Ever Facebook group, on the off-chance someone knows what it is. To answer questions, yes, the tape is knackered. It would have been a recording taken directly from my Speccy+’s Ear socket, into a cheap “slimline” tape recorder. Probably running of batteries, I can’t remember.