I don’t feel like singing! Not without Fraulein Maria!

Oh, good-ee. Christmas is approaching us quicker than a speeding locomotive, blasting through the hills of Bavaria, and this year, every single advertisement break on TV has had an awfully twee advert about a mother and daughter who grow up watching “The Sound of Music” together, so the tune of “My Favourite Things”. The end of the advert sees the mother, alone, her daughter has clearly moved out, when all of a sudden, the daughter returns, and now has her own daughter, and the three of them are once again sat down to watch the Sound of Music, and I think I’ve just been sick.

Now, I thankfully have never saw the afore-mentioned film, and only know of the song because it’s used more often than a randy tramp’s condom. I genuinely think it’s something I’d never be able to sit through without retching. It got me wondering, however, if I agree with the choices made in the song, and if some of the things really are my favourite things too?

Raindrops on roses

Naaah. Admittedly, they can be photogenic, if I’ve got a good camera on me, but I’m rarely in the vacinity of roses, and I wouldn’t go out of the way to see them. Next!

And whiskers on kittens

Well that’s pretty specific isn’t it? What about the rest of the kitten? And do you suddenly go off them when the cat reaches adolescence? Admittedly, I’m not a cat person anyway. You can’t trust cats. I’ve only ever liked a handful of cats. There was Dogmeat, a small grey cat from my childhood. There was a guy that lived at the end of the road named Carl, who built bikes. I’m not sure if she was his or just a stray, but after a few months of watching us play cricket in the street, she fell pregnant, had kittens and was never seen again. Sad times.

There’s also James’s cat, who I’ve mentioned before on here.

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

When I was a kid, we used to always go to Appleby, a small town in Cumbria, famed for its annual travellers’ fair, where people go to watch horses being led into a river. Takes all sorts. Anyway, there used to be a cafe called “The Copper Kettle”. They did lovely chips. Anyway, one year, we went and it had gone. This devastating news meant we never went back to Appleby.
Google tells me it still exists, so it appears it’s reopened in the same location. I doubt it’ll be the same, and their recipe for chips will likely be confined to the history books. It’s very unlikely I’ll ever return to Appleby anyway, so I guess I’ll never know. As for actual copper kettles… No. Not when electric kettles exist.

As for the mittens, absolutely not. I don’t like having my hands covered, and you’ll never see me with a pair of gloves on, or indeed, warm woolen mittens. That’s why coats have pockets.

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

In this day and age of terrorism, I’d be more wary of this, especially if it wasn’t expected. Anyway, cardboard boxes are more common these days. I wonder if anyone actually received packages like this any more…

These are a few of my favorite things

Zero from four. Not going good so far, is it?

Cream-colored ponies

I’ve never once looked at a pony of any colour and thought “That’s one of my favourite things”. I might have got slightly jealous, mind you….

and crisp apple strudels

You know, I went to Austria a few years ago, and never had strudel. I’m not a great fan of apple pie, so I don’t know whether I’d like it or not.

Doorbells and sleigh bells

Can’t stand the doorbell. It’s usually someone wanting money off me. Or, it’s one of the little local scruffians ringing the doorbell and running off. Unless I’m expecting someone, or expecting a package, I usually don’t answer the door. And sleigh bells usually signify Christmas, so you can get stuffed with those too.

And schnitzel with noodles

Ooooo! Finally! Going back to my trip to Austria, I DID have schnitzel, and really liked it. Not sure if I’d class it as one of my favourite things, but if I were to go to Vienna aagain, I’d definitely be ordering the schnitzel. I didn’t see it for sale with noodles though. Is that really a thing, or just more shoddy rhyming There can’t be many things that rhyme with “strudel”?

Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings

Right, I’m getting bored of this now, and I’m aware there’s another verse, but I can’t be arsed to do it. At this point, I think that they were just looking for words that rhymed with “things”, because I’ve never seen a moonlit goose. It’s also likely that I never will, as most of the time, I would be below the goose, and any moonlight reflecting off their wings would be pointed upwards. A poor show

These are a few of my favorite things

Well, as I expected, I disagreed with most of these, But, somewhere, in a Mexican jail, I bet there’ll be someone in a Mexican jail, with this going through their head, as Jose, the “cream coloured pony” enters the cell….

Repressed childhood memories #186

Picture if you will. The year is 1988. I sit in school, in Mrs. Dawson’s class, staring out of the window, paying very little to no attention to what is flowing from the afore-mentioned teachers’ mouth, instead he stars across the playground, watching two birds peck away at the remains of another dead bird, when all of a sudden, the classroom doors bang. It’s the caretaker, and behind him he’s pulling the school telly! Of course, it’s a Rumbelows one, on wheels. The class erupts with excitement as she pulls out an ancient VHS tape out of her desk drawer.

This will be the only time in the entire school day that the class will have her full undivided attention.

“If you’re good, I’ll let you hear the music”, she says, bribing the class into facing the front, as she struggles to get the sun visor across the top of the telly in place, as it collapses hilariously at least once. Of course, we’ll hear the music because Mrs Dawson only knew one button, and that was the Play button.

In goes the tape, and she presses play. There they are. For me, the highlight of computer animation at the time. Yes, four spinning ITV logos.

We could have been waiting for a programme on making cardboard boxes (to be honest, we probably were), but as long as I got to see (and hear) that, I was content.

These “Schools” TV shows were always broadcast in the morning, so when you were off poorly, it’d be a special treat to actually see that animation on your own telly. And, of course, I’d be sat there with the tape recorder, grabbing as much as I could.. Sometimes you’d get more of the track than before, as the gap in between each program was different

At the time, we thought that this music and countdown clock was there to help teachers queue the programme up for the class. While this may be partially right, there was also a much more mundane reason. These were the days before the national curriculum, and different areas were allowed to show different programmes, meaning that one region could show a 14-minute programme, and the rest of the country could be watching a 12-minute programme, so for that extra two minutes, the rest of the country will see an extra two minutes of the spinning ITVs while they wait for that region to catch up. On very rare occasions, they would play the full track, if there was an especially long wait between regions.

I remember getting this on audio tape, and I played it that much, the tape snapped. The music was surely lost to obscurity. This animation ran every school morning from 1987 until 1993. By then, the national curriculum was fully in place, and eventually there was no need for long breaks between programmes.

In 2002, I made a brief post about this animation and a site I’d discovered which had far too much technical detail about this. Sadly, the site no longer exists.

However, I did manage to find out who did the music. It was by someone named James Aldenham. Except it wasn’t, because that name was a pseudonym for Brian Bennett, the bloke out of The Shadows. It turns out that both of the pieces of music were released on CD, and due to their rarity, were stupidly expensive. They were on the “Music House” label.

“The Journey”, which is the long bit of music was released on “Atmosphere 12 MHA-!2)” and “Just a Minute”, unsurprisingly, the countdown clock music was on “That’s Entertainment (MHE-15)”

And, thanks to eBay, at under a fiver each, I have them both. Another part of my musical journey (pardon the pun) over.

EDIT 5/7/17: Here’s a little bit of extra information for those playing along at home. For the entirety of its run, both tracks were only ever aired in mono. During the initial introduction when the schools broadcast started for that day, the first minute of “The Journey” would always be played, before fading out to the clock. This recording was of a fixed length, and the audio was taken from the left channel track, and every other broadcast would be played from the right.

The reason for this, is that the left channel had slightly less instrumentation around the intro, so it could be made to sound more “peaceful” to start the day.

Sky News made a seagull eat my chips

SO, with the date of the most important referendum any of us will have endured for the past 6 months only a couple of hours away, the media has been in overdrive about it. It’s rather like my house and CDs. YOu can’t turn hour head without either an opinion on Brexit (I absulutely hate the phrase) or someone spouting why my little tick on a piece of paper would CHANGE the face OF THE WORLD.

Anyway, enough about that, and about what was my most memorable part of this whole election debarcle. I just happened to be at work, after dragging myself from my man-flu laden pit, and glanced at one of the tellies that constantly show Sky News (except for that brief period where England had an afternoon game, and they were switched over to the footy), and noticed something familiar. Kay ” As Coarse As Sandpaper Undies” Burley.

Well, yes, she’s familar. But it was the background that caught my attention, and the fact it said “Hartlepool”, in the top right corner sort-of gave it away. Yes, Sky News had invaded my little home town. And, not only that, they were on the Marina about 10 minutes away from where I worked.

I headed off in the general direction of where they were broadcasting from, and a big old satellite truck gave their exact location away. Of course, the first stop off would be some dinner, and off I popped to get some chips. Bloody hell. £2 Two English Pounds. Apparently, this was a temporary price rise due to the price of potatoes going up. Oddly, I hadn’t seen anywhere else putting their prices up, but never mind. I got a portion of chips, and slowly walked around wh were the camera crew were.

I make no screts about me having an interest in television, and I love to take a good old photo of a telly camera whenever possible, and today was no exception. Unafortunately, I couldn’t get *really* close as they were broadcasting from a pontoon behind a 6 foot gate.

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In order to document the whole experience in digital form (a.k.a. take that photo), I had to put my chips down. That’s when an enterprising little twat known as Steven Seagull grabbed the bloody tray of chips from me, drag it just enough distance to save them from being hygenically rescued, and began to tear the tray open in front of my eyes.

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Yeah, thanks Sky News. You cost me my dinner.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, I did deflatedly pick the mangled tray/fork up and put it in a bin. I can’t stand litter.)

My record collection is complete

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.

Finally found a clip of “Okavango”

I’ve whittered on about this a good few times, and you’ll know this if you’re a regular viewer, but there was an entirely forgettable show on The Disney Channel called “Okavango”. It aired in the mid nineties, and it disappeared without trace. No other channel over here showed it, as far as I’m aware. This led me, until a few moments ago, to believe it was a Disney production. Turns out it wasn’t. It was produced by “Gibraltar Entertainment”.

Anyway, the show itself is forgettable. It’s about a family that move from somewhere in Suburbia to, I assume, the Okavango Delta. I cared not for its plot, but what I did like was the theme music. Again, I’ve mentioned at least three times that I managed to source the MP3, and it was the first MP3 I ever purchased. Its name is “Invent Yourself”, by Julian Laxton

Because of copyright and all that jazz, I obviously couldn’t put the MP3 on here, so I’ve been searching the interwebs (or rather Youtube) for a clean copy of the theme I can link to, and as if by magic… here’s not only the theme, but a complete episode!

EDIT FEB 2016: Oh, you know what? It’s gone off Youtube now. Can’t seem to find another video either. Bah.

Before you rush to press play, I must warn you it’s in Russian. Incredibly badly dubbed Russian at that. But, if you can put up with some Russian bloke reading out the on-screen text, then you can appreciate this awesome theme. Skip to the end of the video (23:40) if you just want to hear the music. Note how there’s no credits for the music composer. Shame on you, Gibraltar Films or whatever you’re called.