That WAS Entertainment

It’s been a shitty few days.

Things haven’t been great for me recently. I WAS back at work, but I’m back on the sick again, because of my feet. Hopefully, it’s just for the week. and I’ll be back on Wednesday, but more on that later, possibly in a separate post. I’m still trying to get over the shock of the impending doom of “That’s Entertainment”

Well, it all started earlier in the week. As I mentioned, my feet are falling to bits again, so all plans I had for the weekend had gone out of the window. I planned on sitting in, not speaking to a single human being until I went back to work, and just generally feeling sorry for myself. Accomplice came to the rescue, however, and said “I’m driving to Middlesbrough to get my hair cut on Saturday, tag along and you can raid That’s Entertainment, I’ll be parking near it”, which loosely translates to “Get yourself out of the house, even if it’s for an hour, you miserable bastard”.

I agreed that a rummage through the 49p boxes at the afore-mentioned record store would possibly bring a small glint of happiness to an otherwise depressing week, so he drove round, I hobbled to his car, and off we popped to Middlesbrough.

We arrived at the store. Accomplice disappeared up the road to get (what’s left of) his hair trimmed, and I entered the store. My eyes lit up! The 49p CDs were now 10p each! I hadn’t been this excited since the Washington Branch closed last year Now, for the ininitiated, these 10p discs are CDs that have lost their cases, and are provided in just a plastic wallet. Some may have the odd scratch, and some may only be single discs from a multi-disc compilation. I don’t care about the cases, I don’t care about scratches. I don’t even care if I know what’s on the CD. 90% of the fun is getting it home, adding it to the database, and finding I’ve found something I’ve been after for years.

Now, these are right next to the counter. I think they’re intended for customers to just have a quick rummage through while waiting for their turn at the till, and not like I do – inspect every single box, picking out many discs at a time. I usually get quite a few at 49p, but then they’re 10p I do, quite literally, fill my boots.

However, seeing these CDs at 10p is usually a double-edged sword. It usually means the store is closing. As these were right next to the counter, it took seconds for me to realise something was indeed up. the staff were talking about dismantling shelves and moving stuff into a van. This very much sounded like the store was closing. I asked the guy behind the counter if this was the case. He confirmed this was the case, and as the conversation spread between the staff, I found that the entire chain are going “online only”.

Time stopped. Voices around me stopped making sense. This was possibly the most devastating news that a music hoarder could ever hear, especially with That’s Entertainment’s USP of selling cheap sleeveless CDs. I reached for my phone. I just had to tell someone. A text to Accomplice was in order.

I texted him, because I knew it’d make his day. Over the years, since my first discovery of the (now closed) store in the Metro Centre, I’ve dragged him round many other locations, as near as Stockton, and as far afield as Manchester. I’ve planned days out around going to these stores. In total, I’ve visited 17 different branches, each of them with their own unique charm, and, of course, row upon row of cheap CDs.

So, for one final time, the PA system played “Ring The Bells” by James. I plonk my (109) CDs on the counter for one last time, a lump in my throat, but with a slight wry smile on my face, as the guy behind the counter has to scan his “Sleeveless CDs” barcode 109 times, and altering the price to 10p for every single one. I pay my money and step away from the counter, just as The line “I don’t feel like God is watching over me” plays.

The song draws to a cold ending, with a chorus of “Ooohs” and “Aaahs”, as I walk out of the shop for one last time. knowing that the likelihood of me ever gracing these steps again would be very small indeed.

On the plus side, I have all of these to add to the catalogue, and also a nice “That’s Entertainment” retail box to keep them all in, and all of this only came to a tenner.

The 1989 version of blogging.

It’s always been a passion of mine to write stuff. after a chance discovery, I am happy to show the first ever piece of writing I ever had published…. it was in the local paper, and formed part of the Chipper Club.

The Chipper Club was a “local” page in the Hartlepool Mail( the same format was copied across many locations), which allowed kids (aged 7-14 I think) to compose their own letters and get them published. Chipper, for the record is/was a cartoon dog, and you could be part of the Chipper club, with your own secret code, badge, and ID number. Basically, it allowed the local children to have their name in print, and get a reward for having their letter and name published. If you get three letters published, “Uncle George” would send you a gift token of one whole English pound. For Woolworths. Every Saturday, if you were a “Lucky Chipster”, you won a free session at the local swimming baths. I can’t recall if I ever won.

The Chipper Club ceased in the early 1990s. Chipper, at the last time I checked, is still being published in the Hartlepool Mail, but only as a small comic strip, probably in many other locations too.

You’ve got to be wondering why I’m rambling on like this. Well, I’ve been at a bit of a loose end for the past few days. In a fit of boredom, I pulled out a load of old photographs and newspaper cuttings. This was amongst it…

Well, I did do a clicky-bigger thing for that, but in hindsight, it’s perfectly readable, so that’s redundant. Words can’t express how much I thank my late mother for keeping this, along with everything else.

I bet you thought I’d got lost…

You know, it’s always the same, I have a big long spell of blogging, and then I don’t do anything for two weeks. Oops. This wasn’t intended, but it seems I did the same last year, after the dizzying heights of the Berlin trip. Oh well.

Even for a British summer, the weather has been truly appaling. There hasn’t a day gone by where it’s not absolutely hoyed down at some point, or been so dull that it’s not even worth sticking your foot out of the door, never mind going around and doing stuff. Ever since I’ve came back from Paris, I have had absolutely nothing to look forward to… I tried to change this by arranging a trip to Countdown for me and Chris, but seeing as he has no holidays left, this has fallen through, leaving me once again, staring to the inky void, where the only light at the end of the tunnel is the reflection from the bottom of a beer glass. Even worse, is that it would have been my last chance to see it under its current guise.

On a lighter, and much happier note, Wayne has finally got back in touch after 18 months of being silent!! Unfortunately, he missed all of the email I’d sent to him in this time, thanks to NTL/Virgin’s policy of only keeping email on their servers for 90 days, but at least he’s still alive! Coatesy, however, is still radio-silent, and it’s looking less likely that he’ll ever get back in touch.

Christ, this is an amusing entry isn’t it? Laugh-a-bloody-minute.

To make things worse, morale at Employment Palace has hit an all time low. Once again, I can’t go into details, mainly because I’ll end up putting my fist through the monitor. This has depressed me more than anything, I think.

On another note, I’m an organ donor. Or rather, I’ve been for months, but I never bothered mentioning it before. I’m only metioning it now, because I’ve just found an old registration form I meant to send off, but never did. On the back of it, it states “Discuss your wishes with those closest to you, so they know your wishes should the time ever come… I’m sorry, I know whatthey mean, but surely that’s the worst way of putting it, ever? What do they mean by “should”? Do they suddently think I’m immortal, or something?

Ahem. On the subject of death, another reason I’ve not been updating much is the “dying” of Beastbits, my main machine… You may remember a few months ago, the 250Gb drive I had, started clicking, going all weird and just not working in general? Well, I replaced it with a 500Gb drive. And that’s on the way out too. It began with The Click of Death.

Eventually, strange things started happening The drive would disappear from Windows completely, and today, during the reboot, in the BIOS detection it wouldn’t reappear. Nasty. I decided the drive was duff. My curiousity got the better of me, and after a physical power-off, it reappeared.

Now, something was up, and I decided to back everything up to an external HDD. During ther copying process, it halted with a CRC error. Not good. Files were on the bad sectors! Oooooo!

I happened to note the name mentally of the corrupt file. Thankfully, it was just an outdated SQL dump I’ve done from my website, and wasn’t of much use anyway. The rest of the backup passed without a hitch. Everything else copied. For a bit of mirth, I decided to copy the original file I’d had a problem with. It copied first time. To me, this began to sound like something more “logical” than physical.

Soooo, I powered up “Darik’s Boot And Nuke”. I had used this in the past to “fix” the bad sectors on the earlier faulty drive I mentioned. Anyway. I started it on this drive, and it failed. It quit with an error saying that the drive may have bad sectors. Duh.

Fair enough, this wasn’t playing ball, so I grabbed the diagnostic software from the Samsung website. I wasn’t expecting miracles. Still, I ran it, and there they were, the bad sectors…

Goosed.

Fair enough, at least they were official.

I wasted at least 3 hours of my finite time on this planet allowing the disk check to finish. It prompted me to perform a disk erase. Meh. All backed up. It can’t do any harm. After all, these sectors were goosed, so another few hours later, the entire hard drive was erased, and I ran another diagnostic check Now, thanks to that photo, I had the exact location the bad blocks. Imagine my surprise as it skipped over them without a single bit of hesitation.

OK, so unbelievably, the drive was back to its normal self. All of this took place on Monday night, so I formatted the drive while I was at work on Tuesday. I returned home, and copied all of the stuff from the external backup drive onto it. And, tonight (Friday), it has gone back to the original problem of the click of death. Joy!

In a thread on Glens’ forum, I mentioned my problems, and although Crag has a very valid point, it’s still a 100% failure rate. And, I can’t even send it back either, because the only way it will detect bad sectors is obviously after the disk has been in use for a few days after an erase, which means there has to be data on it. And, seeing as I know the sort of ahem… “data” I keep on it, I’d rather not let it out of my sight!