Now the Longscar Centre’s burned down….

For those of you familiar with the lovely seaside resort of Seaton Carew, you’ll notice that one of its major “eyesores” went up in flames yesterday. And for those of you unfamiliar with it, it was a major eyesore that had blighted the main part of Seaton Carew since its closure in 2009.

You could almost hear the cheering from Clavering.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get to Seaton to take my own photos, but thankfully, Chris sent me these…

I won’t speculate on what happened, why it happened, or any monetary exchange that may occur because of it – that’s for someone else to decide (and, of course, social media), so instead I’d like to go through some of the memories I have of the place.

The news said it closed for good in 2009. That’s probably right, as Coasters, the pub, remained open, but long before then were the arcades. I’d spend many a saved-up 2p and 10p in this place, and if pocket money could afford it, even an odd pound coin.

This place was one of the largest arcades in Seaton.

As you went through the door, past the rickety old racing machines (where the horses would judder along badly maintained rails, and you’d bet on which one made it to the end first – if you got it right, it would spit coins at you),

On the left, there was the “Prize Bingo”. This was great for the mams and aunties. I don’t think I ever went with my mam, but certainly went with my aunty when I was about 13, this would have been the first time I went there, it can’t have been log after it opened.

On the right were the arcades, on the far, right were the miniature bowling alleys. More on them in a bit

So, as I mentioned, the first time I went there was with my aunty. Now, she used to read the blog, finding out what I get up to, but apparently they stopped reading many years ago because I swore too much. I think that was a polite way of saying I’m a disappointing nephew. Ahem, Anyway, I knew that we went there, because I can still remember seeing the mechanical 7-segment display on the wall, showing the jackpot. No LEDs for us, not in those days!

I remember one of the very first times I was let out on my own, to an event. I must have been about 14 or 15,, and a slightly younger lad called Ste was with me. PJ and Duncan (as they were known back then), were headlining a local radio roadshow.. Of course, I cared little for their music, and while hordes of screaming girls belted their lungs out at the sight of the wee Geordie Grinners, myself and Ste got up to other activities, such as playing Ridge Racer in there.

When the whole Ridge Racer craze died a few years later, games started evolving, and Ridge Racer disappeared. They invested in new, large generic arcade cabinets, what you could sit down on, the controls would be separated from the game by about 4 feet, but the monitor would be comfortably large enough to see. One all-time favourite on here was, of course, Track and Field, the 1983 Konami classic. The original game used buttons, these cabinets used joysticks and buttons, making the whole running bit a whole lot easier. Unfortunately, due to the physical nature of the game, the joystick would always be broken, and the buttons unresponsive. Of course, you can’t find that out until you’ve deposited your 10p.

Other machines had more obvious faults. A “Punchout” had one of its monitors just showing a bright line (The flyback transformer was loose. Ironically, sometimes giving the machine a good thwack would bring it back to life.)

The years went on, and as I got older, I frequented it a lot more, usually with Chris. I went there on the day that I got my GCSE results. You know, to take the incredible feeling of disappointment away.

By this time, It was obvious to see that the arcade part of this place was beginning to go down the tubes. The mini-bowling had stopped working, part of the arcade got replaced with a tiny indoor go-karting track, and the few arcade machines that were there, fell more and more into disrepair. On my last ever visit, I noticed that even my beloved “Track + Field” had a board fault, as the colours were all wrong – the track showing as white background with black lines.

Shortly after, the arcade was gone. Rumour has it that the games were sold off really cheaply.

The only place that remained open was the pub “Coaster’s”. I don’t recall ever going in it, but I do have memories of a manager (who shall remain nameless) at an old place I worked at, offering to buy us curry every Friday night. Naturally, it was free food, so we all agreed. He’d disappear for about two hours, get absolutely legless in Coaster’s, drive back (hence the anonymity), and serve us all up with lukewarm curry! While I absolutely do not condone drink driving, it’s safe today what these Friday nights were the catalyst for my love of the spicy stuff – from takeaways anyway.

The manager retired, and Coasters closed. I don’t think there was any coincidence in this., but you never know.

And so, that concludes my brief history of The Longscar centre. Rather like The Wesley, I have a feeling it’s going to be even more of an eyesore than what it was beforehand…

Amiganuts…

Cor, (almost) three posts in three days. I must be spoiling you! OK, so the last two weren’t of particular interest to anyone other than those that has a failed NAS drive, but they still count.

I’m happy to report that this one won’t be of interest to anyone either. Sorry about that.

I’ve spent the last few hours on this dreary Sunday morning, by listening to music. Nothing special there, I admit. This is, however, Amiga music. I’ve spent the last few hours going through some of my old favourite Amiga MODs. Now, for those of you who don’t know what a MOD is, or think it’s something you put on an in-game weapon, it’s short for music module, and it was an extremely popular way of making music via computer, using something called a tracker. My writer’s block is creeping up on me already, and I currently can’t describe what a tracker is (except for a delicious cereal bar), but if you ever played a game on an Amiga, Atari ST, and certainly some of the consoles, you can bet it was composed on a tracker. I’ll let Wikipedia tell you if you want to know any more.

I must admit, I’m not much of a musician. I couldn’t carry a note in a bucket, yet still, I spent most of my last school years playing about with OctaMED, ProTracker and various others, knocking out daft little tunes. This was before the days of the internet, and certainly before mass storage was available, therefore, most of my MODs were only heard by a few people. I’d often give Amiga formatted disks to friends with them on, and then think no more of them. Surely, I’d *always* have a copy, and will *always* be able to listen to them. No. Pretty much all of my Amiga data disks have been destroyed. I have a couple of game disks hanging around, but almost any work I’d done on the Amiga is long gone.

A few weeks ago, I discovered I’d actually lost all contact with Wayne, the old school friend who I mentioned a few times on here a few years ago. My only contact with him was through email, and even then, I’d not heard from him for a couple of years. Thanks to the Virgin/NTL email fuckup, I dropped him an email to see if he’d been affected. Turns out he had, and his email address is no longer valid. I know I’d sent him a LOAD of my stuff back in the day. Gutted, I turned to Facebook, to see if any of my other school mates may have had a copy. It drew a blank

Sadly, yet amazingly, the only one I can think of that survives, is one of the very first I ever did, and one of the ones I’m most ashamed of. I never gave it a proper name, but it is heavily based on “mod.fairlight” – if you were lucky enough to get the Amiga Format version of OctaMED on the coverdisk, you’ll recognise this as the demo track that came with it. Before the internet, I had to bastardize what little music I had, in order to learn the program. I was lucky enough to have borrowed a sampler from the afore-mentioned Wayne, which allowed me to record samples and fit them to the music. For this particular MOD, the vocal samples were mainly from a radio talk show, hosted by a person with the initials “TD”, and this is all it was ever known to me…. td.mod

Computers have moved on, I have went through dozens of hard drives, yet still, this td.mod, like a bad penny just simply won’t go away. Chris came round, and I played it to him again after at least 16 years of not hearing it. He couldn’t believe I still had it. It created an instant ear-worm, to the point he was quoting “Salted-salted-salted peanuts?” to me, some 7 days later.

It is, with the least bit of pleasure, I bring you, one of the most painful things to hit human ears.. here it is… TD.MOD!

And that wasn’t even my original point of the post. It would appear my brain got sidetracked about the fact that everything I have ever done is complete shite…

Flying, Fishermen and Flames…

A few of you know why I’ve not been looking forward to this past week. I’m happy to report that it hasn’t been as bad as I imagined.. the last few days should be pretty interesting too.

Anyway,Sunday saw me with Jamie S, Gary, and at a later point in the afternoon, Andy the Iridium Fan, who as usual, will be abbreviated to ATIF, for typing purposes.

Jamie S arrived at mercuryvapour Towers at 8:27, donning a pair of sunglasses and brown chinos. Gary arrived in the Flavmobile, some 11 minutes later. The festivities didn’t start until 10AM, so this gave us 90 minutes to get to Sunderland. Normally, it’s a 20-minute journey, but we had to account for traffic. It was bound to be *packed*.

It took us 25 minutes. Bugger.

We were one of the first to arrive at the Park ‘n’ Ride thing, located near Haversham park. I didn’t actually know this at the time, I just Google Map’d it.

Anyway, we were lucky enough to have a ride on one of the Red Arrows. I felt so priveleged!

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By the time we arrived at the airshow properly, it was about 10AM. We walked along to get money at a nearby Morrisons, after all the cost of anything here would clearly be extortionate, things like this always are. First plan of the day was where to have dinner. Sure, we could rely on the burger vans and stuff, but Gary knew where there was a pub with a carvery which would serve food even though the air show was on. Jamie S spent about a week talking to someone about joining the TA. I can tell that he’s really interested in doing this, as the information she gave him is still in *my* bag!

After buying some books at a charity stall (50p for 2!), we headed up to the carvery… I must admit, the meal was excellent.

Suitably stuffed, we walked back along the seafront and headed onto the beach to watch the first show of the afternoon, the parachutists landing. Now, there was one reason why I mentioned Jamie S’s chinos. they would make us easy to spot in a crowd. And, they did! Andrew D didn’t know we were here at the time, yet he still managed to photograph us…


(It would appear this image is broken. Bugger. If I’m not lazy, I’ll redo it. At some point.)

Jamie S wanted to go to Morrisons again, so me and Gary watched the spitfires from what could possibly the the best vantage point… in the middle of a raised roundabout!

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The view was short-lived, however, as a marshall moved us on a few moments later. Awwww.

Jamie S had exited Morrisons at this point, and we began to make our way down the promenade. The displays continued around us. I used my A480 to record some video, and I gave control of the 450D to Jamie S, in the hope that some good shots of stunt planes flying by would turn up…

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Yeah, thanks. You want a job doing properly….

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the worst picture of me taken on the day. There are worse, much worse. At approximately 3:15, I received a tap on my shoulder. Presumably, it was someone asking me to get out of the way, after all, the seafront was pretty packed. Instinctively, I turn around, only to receive a camera lens in my face…

Yup, ATIF had turned up! Now, the odds of us both meeting up were very slim, due to the size of the event, and apparently a million people there. He even let me borrow his telephoto lens! Otherwise, photos such as these would be impossible…

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Of course, with Andrew being there, there just had to be another embarrassing photo of me taken. Deep down, I quite like this one…

I don’t know why.

It’s forest o’clock!

OK, I’m really struggling these days when it comes to imaginitive titles. After my massively expensive shopping trip yesterday, it was time to do something entirely different, and that was to spend the day walking around Hamsterley forest. This time, I’d be with Gary (aka Flav), and, once again, Jamie S would be in charge of the transportation.

Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed on Thursday morning, was the fog. It’s the thickest it’s been in a long time. Thankfully, Hartlepool is on the coast, and Hamsterley Forest is many miles inland. I’d be hopeful that the mist would burn off. After a quick stop off at the town so Jamie S could pick up some Primark Plimmies, we headed off to Port Clarence to pick up Gary. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of this particular place, but it does have one of my favourite pieces of graffiti…

FUCK OFF

Awesome. It’ll always remind me of getting the No. 1 bus to Middlesbrough for jury duty.

The first step was to the petrol station. It was only fair that we helped fill Jamie S’s car up a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a mortgage application form to hand, so I just handed him a tenner and hoped his car would get away with breathing fumes.

The journey there was brightened up with the discovery of the best placename of the day…

North Bitchburn. Awesome. Jamie S had to hold up traffic slightly while I took that photo. Unfortunately it was in the wrong direction for us, so the only thing I can say about the place is it has a wikipedia article that really should be tidied up.

Shortly after, we arrived at Hamsterley Forest. The car park was literally nothing more than a few mounds of earth and a bit of gravel. Saying that, it looked newly constructed, so they’ll probably put grass over the top of the mounds to make it look a bit more attractive. The question is, what route were we going to take? There was the blue route, which was a piece-of-piss 1 mile journey around Bedburn Beck. There was also the orange and red walks, which were longer. Of course, what’s the first thing three blokes do when entering a forest? No, not that, you pack of pervs. You go and have a play on the swings of course….

To be honest, I actually want one of those swings. They’re pretty awesome. One thing I don’t want, however, is a fireman’s pole, though Gary appeared to thrive off them…

Riiiiiiiiighty-ho. Moving swiftly on, we began to follow the orange path. According to the signs, it was a decent length, and would have taken a perfectly acceptable amount of time. Of course, there were distractions and diversions….

The biggest distraction had to be when we accidedentally walked off the beaten track, and found ourself in the middle of a mountain bike course…

Eventually, we found our way onto the correct path, mainly by chance. Something came darting out of the trees near the bottom of the path we were heading. I think my first reaction was “Woah, what the fuck was that?” It took me a few moments to notice it had a red collar on, and was a dog. Eventually, the orange path just sort of fizzled out. It headed into some fields with picnic tables, with no clear path on where to go next. Therefore, we just made up our own way back. We knew which side of the ‘river’ we needed to be on, and thankfully, there was a gravel path leading back in the general direction.

We were right, it was indeed the correct road, and we ended up back at the swings. Jamie S was so delighted by this, he surprised us all with a beutiful rendition on the tubular bells…

Truly haunting. Jamie S and Gary continued to make use of the “obstacle course”, with hilarious results. It had been a good walk, and it’s only thr second time I’ve been able to use Endomondo properly…

endo

Well, I say properly, it would appear I’d had it set on “running” instead of walking. Never mind.

We headed back to the car, and discussions on food were next. We’d passed through a village that appeared to have a nice chippy, so off we jolly well went. and could we find it? No, is the definitive answer to that. We passed through all manner of villages and small towns, looking for a location that would serve us deep-fried potato chunks. Eventually, we ended up in Durham city centre. A bit of a way out, but hell, there was bound to be edibles there.

At this point, Jamie S informed me of his purchase at the Metro Centre the day before. He had bought a bottle of… “scent”. I don’t know what you call it. It’s not aftershave, it’s not deodorant, but either way, it was presented in a large box, and price-tagged at £25. My jaw initially dropped at the time of purchase, but by jaw dropped even more when it explained what was in the box. A blue, glass bottle, no bigger than his inhaler, with 30ml of expensive guff inside of it. That was just under £1 per millilitre….

So, I got ripped off with onion rings, he got even more ripped off with… I don’t know. Our thoughts turned away from small bottles of smelly, and we walked around Durham looking for an eaterie. We ended up, ironically, at Burger King. The irony is, that there has been plenty of discussion recently about my refusal to eat burgers. It seemes foreign to some people that you can live a life without eating a burger. I’ve managed 31 years so far… I do have to wonder, if I’m the only person to ever enter Burger King and not actually order a burger… instead, I ordered large fries, and a portion of onion rings… which cost a third of what they cost me at the Metro Centre. They weren’t as nice, however.

After screaming at traffic on the way out of Durham, we headed back home. After all, he had to get changed for the night out…

Those damned onion rings…

For those of you who see me as a bit of a miser, someone who would drop a penny and have it hit me on the back of the head, you’d be surprised to learn that I’ve spent a “considerable” amount of money over the last couple of days. Plans were made a couple of weeks ago, by Dick Brown, to go out on the lash on Thursday, 3rd March. This involved also getting me some new clobber. I’m not the most fashionable of people. If it’s not folded up on a shelf in Matalan / Primark, I just don’t bother with it. I’m too old to be “trendy”. Mr. Brown offered to meet me the day before, and offer me his infinite wisdom when it comes to all things fashion…

I could hardly wait. Jamie S came to the rescue, and announced that he was going to the Metro Centre with another one of my “work colleagues”, Davvi, and that we were more than happy to tag along. I think my exact words were “Woohoo!”

Everything was arranged, including the times to get picked up, even down to the budget I was willing to spend. I had a sneaking suspicion that Mr. Brown was going to drop out, so I dropped some bait on Twitter after I’d gotten in from work…

Waiting for @thedickbrown a.k.a. Gok Brown to work his designer magic. 6:29 AM Mar 2nd via web

Sure enough, when it came to getting picked up at approximately 1PM, I was broken the ‘bad’ news, that he had indeed dropped out….

On a scale of 1-10, @thedickbrown is a pussy. 

I’d like to say I was surprised. I really wasn’t. That means, there were three of us left. Me, Jamie S and Davvi. Therefore, we left Hartlepool, sans Barney-Rubble-With-A-Beard, and headed up the A19/A1 to the CENTRE OF METROS!

So, there we were. In the North East’s largest shopping centre, ready to buy clothes for the night out of awseomeness arranged by Dick Brown. Where was our first stop? Yes, you’re entirely correct – a record shop named “That’s Entertainment”. And I’ll tell you something, it’s absolutely superb. It’s where all of the old CDs go to die. Nowhere else on this planet has a shelf full of “The Awards 1989”. I’m quite sure it’s the first time I’ve ever walked into a shop and almost lost the entire contents of a testicle. Needless to say I spent ~£25, and walked out with a bag of CDs that would weigh me down for the rest of the day. I didn’t even touch the DVD section.

The time I spent in there was disputed. Jamie S claims I spent an hour in there. I reckon it was shorter, as I would have spent a hell of a lot more.

The clothes shopping began, and I entered shops I normally wouldn’t dream of going into. The reason for this, was every pricetag appeared to be 10 times more than I was willing to pay. Take the jeans for example. Maybe I’m missing a trick, or just not getting the joke, but why buy “distressed” jeans? As in the ones purposely ripped / faded? The more I try to get my head around it, the more I think that they’re so scruffy, I couldn’t even wear them to work. Why would I want to spend £80 on them? I’ve got jeans that I wouldn’t even leave out for the poly-bag

An amusing episode occured in Foot Locker. Jamie S saw some shoes. They weren’t bad to be honest. Black and yellow “Penguin” things. He goes off to the counter… and after a hell of a lot of rummaging, it turned out they only had the left shoe in stock. Oh, my *sides*. I must admit, that’s happened to me before in shoe shops, but it still remains a mystery how / why it can happen.

After many hours of shopping, all three of us were hungry and dehydrated. Unfortunately, my suggestion of heading to the indian restaurant (which I didn’t know existed, until I smelt it, and instantly lost the contents of my other testicle) was rejected, meaning we had to go to a “normal” place. I’d heard good things about Frankie + Benny’s, as in nice food. Unfortunately, nobody told me about the price.

The beer was £3.10 a glass. I’m not sure if this is a record for what I’d paid, but I wasn’t too bothered. You’re in the middle of a shopping centre. I just wanted my throat wetting. The cost of the starters / main course were reasonable, I suppose, but the mistake *I* made was when the waiter asked… “Would you like some onion rings?” The room fell silent. I’m sure there were people gesturing me to say ‘no’ on other tables, but I must have interpreted it as a bout of wind. Surely they were complimental. I can’t think of anything cheaper to make. Yes, I ordered the onion rings. Some guy, three tables away just shook his head. The look of disappointment on the other two’s faces made me think instantly that something had gone south.

The meal came. I went for the steak, medium, well-done. It arrived, and it was delicious. The onion rings weren’t far behind. there were literally 7 of them. Davvi had one, and found them too spicy. I must admit, after one bite, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Unfortunately, the bill was next, after we’d gorged ourselves.

I’m not too bothered about everything else, however, the onion rings were… £3.55. No, I’m not shitting you. Three pounds, fifty-five pence. For 7. OK, they were the best onion rings I’d ever had, but that’s not the point. They must have saw me coming. (insert ejaculation joke here).

I didn’t mention that I did actually find some decent clothes in this whole trip. I also found a new jacket, and £3 Primark plimmies to top off the look. It can’t have all been expensive…