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!

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.

Sixteen days off and what do you get…?

Another year older, and no longer in debt.

Yes, for the first time ever, I booked myself two weeks’ holiday, and tonight is the last night so I thought it’d be fun to share with you what happened. Fun, being the loosest word I can use in this phrase.

Originally, I took the week off on the anniversary of my birth. Unfortunately, that day also co-incided with a trip to the eye infirmary, so this year, my birthday was literally a complete write-off.

And really, I can only think of one thing to type about, and that’s a rather interesting visit to Stockton. OK, not interesting for most people, but for me, it ended up getting lost in the suburbs of the afore-mentioned Teesside town, and thank god it wasn’t raining.

So, let me take you back a couple of weeks. I left work early November, with the thought of two weeks full of charity shop shoppin’ and more CDs than you can possibly imagine. I have two main places to visit when I go to Stockton. the High Street, and the Daisy Chain charity shop, located on the outskirts of town, within view of the A19.

The morning started great. I literally caught the bus to Hartlepool’s glorious town centre with seconds to spare. If my little legs hadn’t carried me any quicker, I’d have missed it. And that would have been shite.

Right, so, anyway. Long story short, Teesside bus ticket purchased, and I get to Stockton nice and early. There’s plenty of time for me to start raiding the charity shops, and I did indeed pick up a fair haul. “Tyne Bargains”, a 2nd hand shop on the High Street also saw a fair chunk of my money. £3 for pretty much my own body weight in CDs. A couple from other assorted charity shops, and a highly disappointing visit to the newly opened “That’s Entertainment” One thing that the festive season always brings, is a drought on the “49p” CDs. Those are the ones that don’t have cases, and are literally a pot-luck of stuff. Completely randon, and I’ve picked up some absolute classics, though I’m sure I’ve rambled on about those before.

Most of the charity shops were plundered, except one, which lies on the outskirts of the town. It’s more like a charity warehouse to be fair, and all of the CDs are 5 for £1.

Daisy Chain charity shop in Portrack Lane, Stockton.
Countless amounts of CDs. Of course, I’ve visited this shop on a number of occasions, and have plundered it for everything that it’s worth. But, you never know, if you somehow stumble accross this photo and/or shop, you might find something worthwhile.

If I remember, I’ll remove that caption. but look at them. Look at all of those CDs. I didn’t even look at the records.

I successfully plundered the shop, and decided to get the bus back to Middlesbrough. Again, perfect timing saw the No. 13 bus to Middlesbrough turn up. Perfect!

Well, I thought we were going to Middlesbrough. Nope. All of the times I’ve caught the bus back home from Middlesbrough, I’ve learned that the 13 stops in the bus staation, but not in the direction I was travelling. As the stops went by, it dawned on me we weren’t going to Middlesbrough, but deeper into native territory. I rang the bell, and got off, knowing I didn’t have a clue where I was. Google maps wasn’t much help. I waited at te bus stop across the road, and noticed there wasn’t any timetable or stop number on this bus stop. What if the 13 didn’t even stop here? Only one thing to do, and that was backtrack.

I walked down by what I hoped was the right road, to see an old lady stood at the bus stop.

“Are you looking for the 13, love?” she says to me…

“Er, I think so”. I then explain my predicament in many less words than what I’ve used here.

“Ohhh, it’s always bloody late. I’ve got to be at the doctors for half three, and….” I’d zoned out at this point. All I wanted was to head back to the bloody High Street, where I knew were I was.

“eeeh, well, I’m going to walk down and catch the 59… That’ll get me as far as St James’s…” I’d zoned out again. I offered to walk down with the old lady as she was currently my only link between getting home, or dying lonely in a strange town. I’m not sure if she warmed to the idea. After all, an out-of-towner walking with an old lady to the bus stop, what could possibly go wrong?

We’d walked about 100 yards down the road, she’d informed me to look out in case the 13 mysteriously turned up… and guess what, just at that point, it did. The next 20 seconds saw me comically running back up to the bus stop, frantically waving my hand for the driver to stop. I get on, it was only the same bloody bus driver who’d took me there in the first place. He must have thought I was a right bloody weirdo, with my bag full of CDs, running back up to the bus stop.

The bus reaches Stockton High Street, but I know this will take me to the bus station.. Everyone except me gets off. The driver asks me where I’m going. In a questionable tone, I say Middlesbrough Bus Station. He then takes the bus out of service, and takes me there directly, as if I had a 46-seat limousine to myself for the next 20 minutes. A quick walk around Middlesbrough later, in the search of an LED light bulb, and I headed home, into the sunset….

Of course, if this was the highlight of the two weeks, that’d have been pretty dismal, but this was the easiest to blog about. After all….

Tacky Chinese pirates attempt to clone Madonna…

`As you know, I am a purveyor of some of the best and the worst of music. Sometimes I’ve found some albums which have clearly been bootlegged. As in, not genuine. Someone with access to a pressing plant thinks they can make a quick quid by doing what is, usually, quite a good job of knocking out a CD or two. Usually they make a decent job of it, and sometimes… well.

Today, while on my almost-daily peruse of the local charity shops, I came across this. Because this is quite clearly a bootleg CD, and the guys over in Asia-land just really aren’t trying. I bring you… THIS Madonna “Greatest Hits” album…

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The first thing you’ll notice is that the sleeve is in the case upside-down. Yeah, that was me. I took it out, and couldn’t get back in the normal way. Even the case isn’t very good. Firstly, look at that choice of picture. I sincerely doubt ol’ Madge would be happy to have that image on the front of an album. I know she’s a show off and all that, but it doesn’t exactly leave much to the imagination.

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So, onto the back of the case. Same photo on the back, but the errors start to become clear. “La Isla Bonnita”, for instance, and where on earth is “Los Angelis”?. And from what I can see, there was never a Star Records there.

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And finally, the CD. I’ve saved the best until last. Just look at it. Take it in. Look at the track names.

PAPADONT PREACH
LAISLABONNITA (again)
JUSTRFY MY LOVE
OPEN YOUR HEATR
CRAZY FER YOU

No, I haven’t listened to it. And to be honest, I don’t think I ever will. I have a sneaking suspicion this didn’t originate from 24-bit digital masters…

The record shop that almost destroyed me…

NOTE: I originally wrote this in a rather pissed-off and unhappy mood. I’ve slept on it since then… I’m only publishing it because everyone likes a car-crash style blog post.

Sigh. It’s a Saturday night. It’s one of those times when I really should be meticulously updating my record collection with the huge haul of wonderful vinyl that I have acquired. but no, I’m sat here with a can of Carling, freezing feet and a pet lip the size of an inflatable dinghy.

If you don’t bother with Facebook, or have me blocked for some reason, you won’t have seen my realtime updates. You won’t have noticed that I was due to travel to Newcastle to attend a local record shops’ “All you can carry for a tenner” deal.

So, let’s start from the very beginning, shall we? Approximately three weeks ago, I get tagged in a post which says “All the records you can cary for a tenner”. It’s one of those things that make your heartbeat skip a beat. Or that could have been the cholesterol in my blood. I don’t know, but I began to make plans in my head to go.

This was around the time that I got my eyes done, as you can remember from the previous post. Even from that moment, my gut was telling me not to bother. All the records you can carry for a tenner with my scrawny little pins? Would I really be getting my money’s worth? And then the logistical task of getting them from Newcastle to the leafy mansion known as Mercuryvapour Towers would be a nightmare.

I had a couple of offers of lifts, but these fell by the wayside, due to work commitments. So, I was literally on my own.

Flash forward to this morning. My alarm clock rings to the tune of… whatever the default alarm sound is on Ericsson phones. Despite knocking 7.5 pints back the night before, I was unusually ready for the occasion. Clothes were donned, pockets were lined with mandatory headphones, and a selection of “bags-for-life”, and I set off to catch the 9:02 train to Newcastle.

An uneventful journey took place, except the train was 6 minutes late.

Bing bong! The next station is Newcastle. Well, that’s what I imagined the announcement would have been, I was listening to the 12″ version of “Lambada” by Kaoma as we pulled into the station.

I walked the small journey where the record shop was, expecting to see a few people there… and well.

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For those of you who want to play along with Google Maps…

Click here

The queue starts where that blue wall is, and if you turn 180 degrees, then turn right at the end of the road, at the top is the shop. That’s your queue.

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I could have walked off. I’d already had backup plans. It was a nice day. Cold, but not raining. The backup plan was to get the metro to Whitley Bay. There are plenty of charity shops there, and they are all virgin territory to me. Yes, there’s a joke in there somewhere.

I joined the queue, mainly just to get a GPS location to post to Facebook, and to see how far it moved after 10 minutes. The answer was, not far. But, after 10 minutes. I thought I might as well see it a bit further.

30 minutes into it, and I wasn’t quite sure whether ice was forming in my blood, or whether the excess sugar in there was turning it to sherbert. Either way, the longer I waited, the more I was determined to stick it out. Every small march of a few steps closer up the road released a small fanfare in my mind, as it brought me closer to records, and more importantly, warmth.

Hours ticked by. I got sick of the music on my phone the instant it played One Direction (I can explain). I was getting colder by the minute.

2 hours into the ordeal, I turned the corner. There it was! The big, white sign… totally obscured by a sea of people… but at least I knew where it was! The Chinese Christian church, the Indian restaurant, the tattoo shop, and then the record shop. Heavenly angels sang overhead. It surely was almost over.

2 hours, 30 minutes ticked by. The moment I was dreading arrived. Years of heavy drinking means my bladder has been honed to become a finely tuned barrel, capable of holding enough liquid to fill the ballast tanks of a small passenger ferry. Unfortunately, thanks to years of spicy curries, the same can’t be said about my bowels. It was either flight, flight or shite. I had to rely on complete strangers to keep my place, and not see me as some kind of pushy-inny pushy-inner, when all I wanted to to was pushy-outy.

Thankfully, the matter was taken care of, thanks to a nearby pub, and I rightfully took my place back in the circle of life. Er, Sorry, the queue. Boredom was soon setting in, not just with me, but the rest of the queue. Someone even said “If I was here on my own, I’d have gone by now”.

Everything stalled at this point. The queue stopped moving. Very little progress was made for an hour, and we’re now up to 3 hours 30 minutes. It became clear this was because they were clearly running out of stock, and there were still about 50 people in front of me. My fears were confirmed, when a guy came out of the shop and announced that had virtually nothing left. Plenty of CDs, but the vinyl had all but gone. I was heartbroken. This always happens, whenever I do something like this, it never works out. I never get there. I am forced to live a life where I avoid queues because I know, I’ll get to the front, and they’ll have ran out of what I want. This was proven today, but in a more extreme scale.

I wanted to prove myself that I was being daft with this theory, but no, I was right, I am never destined to succeed with queues. I could be holding what I want to buy and they’ll still come up and say it’s out of stock.

It’s not very often these days that I feel rage, but that was one moment, where I walked out of the queue, and headed up Westgate Road, almost with my head in my hands, the last insult was having to walk past the place, and see the amount of people in there, clutching their piles of vinyl. I can imagine what they felt like on Bullseye, when Jim Bowen announced “Look at what you could have won”. I literally could have cried. Both shoulders had seized up from shivering. My back had pretty much locked from standing for so long.

I should have listened to my little bony arms and just not bothered.

I’ll tell you how bad I felt. I went charity shop diving afterwards. Mainly to warm up, mainly because there was no way I was going home empty handed. Here’s what I picked up…

A K-Tel instrumentals album called “Horizons”. K-tel for fuck’s sake.
Neil Young – Decade, 2CD set for £1.50. Actually, that’s not bad. Don’t mind a bit of Neil Young
Prefab Sprout – From Langley Part to Memphis…. scratched to buggery for 99p
The Adventures – Trading Secrets With the Moon… also badly scratched for 99p. It’s the follow-up to “Broken Land”, and I’ve never heard it. And, if those marks don’t come off, I never will.
Pete Yorn – musicforthemorningafter – I had one of his singles. The album was 50p. Suppose it’s worth a punt. No idea who he is.

Anyway, this browsing of CDs calmed me down a little, and I vented my spleen on the stores’ facebook page about their lack of communication.

Back to “the day after”. In hindsight, I probably should have calmed down first. My choice of words were harsh. It was pointed out to me that only 4 people work there. My conclusion is that it wasn’t their fault entirely. To a point, anyway. It’s not their fault the facebook posting spread like wildfire. It’s not their fault the amount of people turned up.

I do still think more could have been done to “help” the crowd, with more updates on stock levels and the likelihood of not getting anything. By that point, I’#d have been happy with a cup of water.

The little red bloke on my left shoulder, however thinks “£10 for everyone past the front door? Ker-ching!”

It’s an argument that could run and run. I do know, however, that “one bitten, twice shy” comes to mind, and next time an event like this happens, I shall think of my comfy, comfy pillows, and the duvet that I really could do with replacing.