I’m home!

What a holiday. I’ve been back in the country 9 hours, and I’m currently sorting through the (literally) hundreds of photos I took while I was there. Words cannot describe just how awesome the entire trip was.

I wasn’t going to start typing a full blown blog, but since I’m sat here I might as well give it a go. The trip started last Monday, at 10AM. I ordered the taxi for that time, despite the fact the plane wasn’t until later that afternoon. I like to be careful.

The taxi drops us off, and I’m presented with a building, with “Newcastle International Airport” plastered all over the front of it. I guessed we were at our first destination of the day.

We arrived to find that we were too early to check in. So, we headed for the nearest Starbucks, and found a comfy seat. This is where the long photo journey started, as the shutter clicked on the first of many holiday photos…

879094140_39ed47890b_o

So, after wandering around for a bit, we head to the ticket desk. By the time I’d demolished my Greggs pasty bought moments before, the ticket printing was complete. I expected it to be a lot more complicated than it actually was…. We each gave the (pretty miserable, if I’m honest) girl behind the counter our itineraries and passports. Before we knew it, our luggage was whisked away to places unknown, and we had three shiny tickets in our hand. This was all feeling very surreal. I’ve never stepped foot in an airport before that day, so this was all new to me.

We waited outside for a bit, before we headed up to the check-in desk. Basically, you empty your pockets into a tray, then walk through a metal detector, and pray to god it doesn’t beep. After that, you can browse the vast array of duty free goodies on offer… including televisions. I don’t quite understand how that part of Duty Free works. Do you have to take the TV with you there and then, or do you pick it up later? I don’t know, and I will never know, unless someone tells me.

Well, our duty free shopping trip consisted of…. nothing. There was a bar there, which charged £2.99 for a pint of Carling Ice. This was supposed to be Duty Free, the profiteering bastards.

Begrudgingly, three pints later, we moved on to the “gate” This is simply where you sit for a bit, until they clean up the airplane, and are ready for you to board. It seemed to take for ever.

Eventually, the “gate” opened, and we went through, but not without incident. Patience is a virtue, impatience is a fucking annoyance. In front of me are a group of tourists speaking a foreign language, looking confused. To the right, up the corridor is where tickets are being checked, and other people are waiting to get on the aircraft. I dart forward, thinking they’re holding up the queue, and within milliseconds, a shrill voice screams “SIR!” at least twice… unfortunately I’d failed to notice the woman checking the passports to my left – the real reason the queue was being held up.

Apologetically, and with my tail between my legs, I show my passport, and get checked in.

My first view of the plane was the following:-

886291748_b656aa6a7d_o

I was expecting something a little more substantial if I’m honest. It looked a lot smaller than what I was expecting. I climbed the stairs to the plane, and discovered my seat was a window seat. Brilliant! Viewing clouds from the top side is something that everyone must experience at least once in their lives. Truly marvellous.

We landed a short time later in Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport… and something was instantly noticeable. The thick, black, menacing cloud heading towards the airport. For the next 60 minutes or so, the airport was completely drenched in one of the heaviest thunderstorms I’ve ever seen in my life. And, for that very reason, the flight was delayed…

886372706_9db7abeacd_o

It was time to spend my very first Euros. I bought a bottle of coke, and a packet of spicy crisps. Interestingly, they’re manufactured by Smiths Crisps over there… possibly the same ones who were taken over and crushed by Walkers.

Eventually, the rain stopped. and we were able to board. The other plane we got on was slightly bigger… a 737. We boarded, and this time, I remembered about the passport check, and didn’t run off like an idiot. this time, I didn’t get a window seat, so I helped Jonathan with the crossword he was doing, both of us miserably failing to get 9 across, 11 down and another one which I can’t remember.

By the time we landed in Germany, it was getting dark. As soon as we left the aircraft, and went into the connecting corridor thing, a blast of heat hit us. Clearly they didn’t have the air conditioning on in it, and it wasn’t really that warm outside. We collected our bags, and left… it really WAS that warm outside. Considering this was after 10PM, the heat felt like something we’d get in England in the hottest days of summer. We jumped in a taxi (all of them are sort of a dirty white colour over there, and most of the ones we’d seen were Mercedes), and somehow, the driver understood where we wanted to go.

I was glad it was getting dark, as I would have a chance to see the types of streetlighting that Germany had to offer…

886483224_31f4af4118_o

I’m happy to report that they’re big on Mercury Vapour over there, most of the roads we travelled down were lit by it. The dual carriageways were lit by flourescent. Only the streets in the city centre were high pressure sodium.

Eventually, we arrived at the hotel, and our first impression was “OooooOOOooh!”. It was definitely a four star hotel. I wasn’t even sure if all of the paint had dried in it. Everything shone and sparkled. We checked in, and made our way to the rooms, on the fifth floor. Chris and Jonathan were in one room, I was in the other.

The room was as shiny as the front entrance. After initial confusion on how to switch on the lights, I began to unpack… oh, bollocks.

The bottle of shower gel I’d taken had completely emptied itself inside the case. Completely. Every item of clothing except for one t-shirt was covered in blue, translucent gloop. Look at the jeans in the top left… that’s what everything was like. Somewhat amazingly, every electrical item I’d packed (camcorder, camera, chargers, batteries) escaped unharmed, despite the camcorder being packed in the same compartment as the clothes.

Chris came in and raided my minibar (he was paying for it all anyway) despite noticing that the drink he had just knocked back was priced at a ridiculous €12. I decided against using the minibar and we all headed down to the hotel bar, where the prices were equally as nasty. Two drinks came to €11. Shocking.

We didn’t stay in the bar for long, and instead decided to go to bed. It had been a long day, and the heat was taking it out of us.

I’d managed to work the air conditioning out in my room, unfortunately, Chris and Jonathan didn’t have the same luck. So, while my room was lovely and cold, theirs was apparently like the core of the sun.

However, before I went to bed, I took the first of many pictures outside the room window.

It wasn’t until the next morning I’d see (and hear) the building site in all its glory.

Ich bein ein… um… beeren, sil vous plait?

You’ll be glad to know that there will shortly be another “trip” arranged with Chris, and also this time his brother Jonathan. This time we shall be travelling to the lovely city of… Berlin. Yes, I’m finally taking the passport out for its first trip. Now, although I’m looking forward to it immensely, there are a number of things I’m worrying about.

Firstly, the language. I have a very short amount of time to learn an entire language, or at least enough to get me there, and survive the trip. I suppose all I’ll need is to know “Kind sir, I would like 3 bottles of your coldest, least expensive alcoholic beverage”, and “Please help, I appear to have fallen, and now find myself in a situation where I am unable to get back up”. Ultimately, the thing I want learn most is “Chicken Madras and rice, please”.

Unfortunately, the entire knowledge of Germany I have, comes from the first series of Auf Weidersehen, Pet, which, admittedly was filmed mostly on the site of what is now Albert Square in Eastenders. So, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really think that’s the most accurate place to get all of my information from…

The food too… what’s that going to be like? I have just checked Wikipedia, and I’m staying clear of Sauerkraut and Eisbein. Fermented cabbage and… er, whatever Eisbein is? Apparently, “it can be an alarming experience for the unwary tourist”. No, thank *you*.

Luckily, Wikipedia knows everything, and in fact this article has been enlightening and interesting… woohoo! Currywurst is looking promising.

Right, that’s the first thing I’ve learned, and it feels good.

I’m not going to say exactly when I’m going away on here, just in case when I arrive at Berlin, there are hoardes of fans waiting for me at the airport, screaming my name, clutching prints of the time a few years ago when I accidentally appeared naked on the webcam. Speaking of which, I’d better delete the images I have up there at the minute. Ahem. Seriously, though, I’m one of those people who will tell everyone who knows me anyway… I think I’ve told everyone at work about 50 times already…

“I’m going to Germany, you know…”
“Yes, we SODDING KNOW”…

Either way, there’s an un-nervingly short time until this trip going ahead. I believe flickr have hard drives on standby to handle the stupid amount of photos I’ll take. OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, however, I do have 3.5Gb spread over a number of SD cards, and I intend to use as much of it as I can.. Expect more mammoth blogs after the trip takes place. I have a feeling it’ll be either a complete disaster, or the best time of my life, in the whole history of the world, ever. I have let Chris do all of the admin, as usual, as I’m useless at that type of thing…

I’m currently listening to “The Volume” by Shy Child, a band introduced to me by Big Phil at work. It’s a quality tune, though I wish I wasn’t listening to it on cheap headphones.

Actually, if I’m honest, these headphones are really good for the price I paid for them…. 98p. They’re the Magnavox ones from Asda, bought around the same time as the curries in the previous post. If you’re looking for some headphones which are cheap as crap, but actually AREN’T crap, I’d recommend these.

I shall update you on my foreign and German-learning antics over the coming weeks. It’ll be fun. Allegedly.

All this talk about bikes…

Ahh, this takes me back. It’s funny that Chad (aka Randy Lahey in the recent comments) mentioned my very first bike, which was amusingly titled the Bangermobile. Therefore, I shall reminisce a little about said bike.

Actually, if you want to split hairs, The Bangermobile was NOT my first bike, though it was the first one I actually used. Many years ago, my parents bought me a white BMX bike (not the one I mentioned in the previous post) out of the paper. The only problem is, it was huge, and I was tiny. Therefore, I never, ever rode it. It just gathered dust and cobwebs in the washhouse for about 2 years. I hoped I’d grow into it, but I was about 6 at the time, and I’d need to have waited until I was 14 before I’d have been able to get on it without someone’s assistance.

I was frustrated, I knew I had a bike. I wish I was big enough to have taken it out. Eventually, I got bored of waiting, and lost interest. I was about 8 at the time. Suddenly, unknown to me the bike disappeared entirely. The story, as far as I know it, is that my Uncle Jimmy took it to the bike shop up King Oswy, and swapped it for a bike which was more my size. The result was a plain purple coloured pushbike with racing handles on it, shown below…

1-rescan

(Rescanned the image in 2016 to make it less blurry)

Over time, I found the racing handles a little hard to use, therefore they were replaced with standard handlebars which looked like they may have came from one of those little trolleys old people pull behind them. I didn’t mind. The bangermobile was mine, and no matter how much the other kids in the photo mocked me, I didn’t care, I could finally join in with their races, etc. That is, as long as they didn’t go beyond the end of the square. For the record, Chad is the lad at the back with his thumbs in the air.

I loved that bike. I could finally join in when everyone else got their bikes, building ramps in the square and jumping over certain objects, though I seem to remember falling off more times than enough.

I have no idea what stopped me from using the Bangermobile, possibly a puncture, possibly the fact you used to be able to turn the handlebars without the wheels turning, possibly a horrific fall which I’ve subconciously blocked from my mind and now cannot remember.

Either way, if bikes were dragons, the Bangermobile would be called Puff. Purple things and rusted rings made way for other toys. The bangermobile slowly slunk into its cave, located behind my dad’s shed. Well, it wasn’t a cave, I just said that so it fitted in with the song. In fact, it was (and still is) a completely useless piece of the back garden, which has always been covered in weeds.

Some time later (at least a couple of years), the Bangermobile was discovered by me and whatever friends I was with at the time. We decided it would be great to see it back from the dead, and attempted to repair it. Unfortunately, these attempts proved to be fruitless, when after repairing the tyres about 5 times, getting them pumped up at the Shell garage, only for the air to escape 5 seconds later, it was decided that the life of the Bangermobile was at an end. I’m not sure what happened to it after that. I was too old to care. We probably smashed it up.

It’s not all bad news. Remember those handlebars I didn’t like? The ones in the above picture? Well, they’re still with us. They now act as a handrail in our (mainly disused for 10 years) downstairs toilet…

I went out on my new bike again, just for something to do while the sun was shining. Imagine my delight when the front reflector fell off and went hurtling down the road to the side of me. I’m going to replace them with lights at some point anyway, so that’s not a problem, but why did it have to make me look like a cock in the first place, having to stop and pick it up? Someone was walking past at the time, I bet she had a good giggle. Sob.

BBC European Athletics theme.

Well, I got an answer from The Beeb, courtesy of Steve Cram, of all people. The theme music was an instrumental version of “Invincible” by Carola. which was, I’m sure you’ll remember, Sweden’s entry in theis years’ Eurovision Song Contest. And, just in case you don’t remember it, here it is (removed as link is dead)

It’s hardly surprising to read that I also liked it at the time too.

There now follows a theme-music appreciation post.

I know everyone hates these, but sod it. It’s my blog. I’ve not updated for ages, and I’m hoping this will get me into the swing of things again.

I’ve recently bought the following CD.


OK, it doesn’t look like much. In fact, it looks like one of those cheap CD’s you’d pick up on the open market for £2, with entirely re-recorded versions of your favourite sports TV themes.

Not even close. It cost me £6.99, and it’s almost jam-packed with the greatest works of sports theme ever. I say almost. I may have a rant about the Match Of The Day Theme. Let’s play it through.

(01) Grandstand (Current Theme) – Sound Stage Orchestra

There simply couldn’t be a sports theme CD without this classic, soon to be removed from our TV screens. I love it. From its over-emphasised brass section, to the over-the-top trumpet leading to the seldom heard middle eight. Andy M informed me that the day Grandstand’s demise was announced, Radio 1 played the full version of this. And good on them!

(02) News Scoop (Grandstand Original Theme) – Symphonia Orchestra Conducted By Ludo Philipp

Used by the beeb whenever they introduce vintage clips. And also the theme to Auntie’s Sporting Bloomers. Oh, a pole vaulter’s pole snapped! And someone’s landed head first in the water jump! Actually, that’s quite funny.

(03) The Trap (London Marathon) – Ron Goodwin And His Concert Orchestra

Also the intro to the oliver Reed film “the Trap” as documented in… um, the name of the track. the longest track on the CD, at a whopping 3m 9s. Countless views of Tower Bridge, Cutty Sark and athletes pissing in the street. An absolute classic. The original version had lyrics (I actually saw the film one dreary afternoon)… something like “and she shall have diamonds and pearls”, sung by Reedy himself. It’s a top tune, and still used by the beeb to this day.

(04) Pop Looks Bach (Ski Sunday) – New Dance Orchestra

What can I say? This is Ski Sunday. Literally. Violins, kettle drums, sitting on a sunday afternoon eating biscuits, and maybe some leftover joint. (meat-type, natch). Again, only watched by children to see massive injuries. I’ve ran out of things to say, and there’s still 20 seconds of the track left, ah here’s the big finish!

(05) Soul Limbo (Test Cricket) – Booker T & The MGs

Yes, it’s the unmistakable cricket theme, with more cowbells and xylophones than you can shake a wicket at. A record in its own right, naturally. An intro which always reminded me of my mother emptying the tin ashtray we had at the time. And still have, despite nobody smoking in our house for over 9 years.

(06) Drag Racer (Snooker) – Doug Wood Group

The snooker theme. There is no other. Sod Pot Black. What surprisies me was that this track was recorded in 1976, but the version I have on 7″ is copyright 1982, despite it being the same version. The beeb thought it would be funny to stick crap snooker sound effects on the start and the end, which is probably the reason of the revised copyright date. It’s still a top track. And the remixes of it currently broadcast are sacrelege. Can’t spell that word.

(07) Offside (Match Of The Day Theme) – Mike Vickers Orchestra

THIS MAKES MY EARS BLEED. THIS IS NOT THE MATCH OF THE DAY THEME. THIS IS THE WEEDY ATTEMPT FEATURED ON EVERYTHING SEEING AS BBC WON’T RELEASE THE BARRY THING VERSION. THIS IS MAKING MY EARS BLEED. MAKE IT STOP. Bit of an insight, as there’s still a minute to go. Barry Fenton recorded the original track in 1969, still used to this day. This 1970 mockup is an awful representation of it. You’ll have heard it before. This is by far the low point of the CD. It’s finished!

(08) Drum Majorette (Match Of The Day Original Theme) – Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra Conducted By Robert Farnon

Er. I’m not familiar with this one at all. Oh, actually, about 30 seconds into it, a little bit of it is recognisable. Hmmm. 22 more tracks to go. Not familiar with this one at all. Did I put the milk back in the fridge?….. Meh.

(09) Sportsnight (Theme) – Tony Hatch Orchestra

Ahhh. Tony Hatch. I have vague recollections of this theme. My parents weren’t sporty, and this show was always on past my bedtime. Therefore, I know of it expecially, the DA DA DA DA-DA DA! at the end. Wow, it has a really shit sax solo. My god, it’s awful. Never heard this before. Ah, back onto the main theme. Still over a minute to go, and as seems to be the par for the course on these themes…. start bit, cheesy middle secton, start bit again, proper ending.

(10) All Sports March – Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra Conducted By Robert Farnon

I can place it. But it’s crap. So. A little about my day, then. I had a bit of a headache this morning when I woke up. But that soon cleared when I got to work, of all places. they’re still replacing the streetlights on Easington Road…… Um…. this theme is really crap. Only 30 seconds to go. I might have to stop and get more beer in a second.

(11) Light And Tuneful (Wimbledon Opening Music) – Sound Stage Orchestra

Bit of a strange name for something that really isn’t that light, to be honest. I love this theme. Usual structure. Main theme, then the cheesy middle eight which gets talked over by Sue Barker, then the end of the theme, which is the same as the start, only in a different key, which I don’t think gets used any more.

(12) Sporting Occasion (Wimbledon Closing Music) – Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra Conducted By Robert Farnon

I don’t think this gets used as the closing any more. It got used as the opening a few years ago, to the dislike of most of the public. It’s a boring, tra-la-la thing, with a bit of fanfare in it. Bleh. Not my cup of tea.

(13) Holy Mackerel! (Rugby Special) – Brian Bennett Band

Brian Bennet, ex member of the Shadows, brings us this ditty I always remember from my childhood. Wah-wah synth. and lots of it. you can almost sing the lyrics “This is rugby league!” over it. That’s my strongest recollection of it. Not used any more. At all. Ever. Completely forgotten.

(14) Cranes (Darts) – Doug Wood Group

The entire reason I bought this CD. I knew the name, and the artist of the track. Many google searches drew a blank. Though, a few nights ago, it struck me I might have been searching for the wrong thing. I’d known the artist as “Doug Wood BAND”. The other night, I searched for “Doug Wood GROUP”. Within an instant, I was redirected to HMV, where they had snippets of all of the themes on here. My word! they were all the original versions, and this track was included A google search later, meant I got it from amazon for almost £4 cheaper. Woo. Um, back to the track. Clear recollections of saturday afternoons, with a rotating dartboard, and that scary last note. Almost 2 minutes of sheer brilliance. They really knew how to do snare drums in the 70’s.

(15) Derby Day – Melodi Light Orchestra Conducted By Ole Jensen

Not familiar with this one at all. I’m sure they probably still use it on Derby Day. But not in my presence. We’re only half way through. I expect a lot of rubbish tracks, and some quality ones. Can’t quite remember the track order.

(16) The Challenge (BBC Sports Personality Of The Year) – Melodi Light Orchestra Conducted By Ole Jensen

Oh dear, we’re onto the rubbish. This one has deteriorated badly. Recorded presumably in Mono. I know it to a point, and I think they still use it. It’s not that good.

(17) World Series – Melodi Light Orchestra Conducted By Ole Jensen

Er. I have no idea what they used this one for. Thankfully the last one in the trio of Ole Jensen tracks I’ve not actually heard before.

(18) Saturday Sports (Sportsview) – National Light Orchestra

But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the crap tracks. No recollection of this AT ALL. Literally. I know it about as well as I know the back of my neck. Well, I know there’s a wart on there, but that’s not the point.

(19) Soul Riff (Crown Green Bowls) – Doug Wood Group

To be honest, this is the only Doug Wood Group track I’m not familiar with. I quite like it though. I don’t think the beeb use it any more.

(20) International Sports March – Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra Conducted By Sidney Torch

YOU JOIN ME! IN THE MIDDLE OF A TRACK I’VE NEVER HEARD BEFORE! The 2nd longest track on the CD, at 3mins 8secs. Great. Time to get more beers……

(21) World Of Sport March (World Of Sport) – Don Harper Big Band

The only track to stray away from the comfort of the BBC. This is the famous ITV World of Sport theme. It’s beautiful. Stupidly loud piccolos, mute trumpets, more bass than a freshwater lake, and clocking in at a paltry 1min 45secs. It’s just *too* short. I could have listened to it for hours!

(22) World Series (Athletics) – Sound Stage Orchestra

What I love about this CD is the names that were originally given to the tracks, in this case “World Series”. Never-before-heard honkytonk piano solo. I absolutely love this. And, they don’t use it anymore. A few years ago, for whatever reason, they replaced this theme with a synthed-up soundalike. It was exactly the same, except for whatever reason, they re-recorded it. I can only assume that someone at the beeb lost their master before they went ahead and showed the highlights of the long jump from Oslo. Brilliant track.

(23) Grandstand – Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra Conducted By Robert Farnon

Another Grandstand theme. The 70’s have something to be thankful for. They got rid of this from our screens. Can you imagine Des Lynam introducing Crown Green Bowls from Wembley over this?

(24) Out Of The Blue (Sports Report (BBC Light Programme And Radio 5)) – Band Of The Irish Guards Conducted By Major C.H. Jaeger

I can only assume, a very famous piece of music. It sounds very recently recorded. Probably from around the time Radio 5 started, which if I remember, was late 80’s? Bugger. I’ve put the CD box somewhere now… oh, there it is…. 1951 according to the booklet. No way.

(25) Goodwood Galop – Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra Conducted By Robert Farnon

Wy word. This is fast paced. I thought the CD was skipping. In fact no, it wasn’t skipping, it’s just a crap track. Copyright 1950, apparently. I don’t think they even DO racing from Goodwood anymore.

(26) Sportsmaster – Melodi Light Orchestra Conducted By Ole Jensen

Er. Didn’t I hear this track earlier? Oh, wait. It’s almost the same as the other ones by the same “band”.

(27) Heavy Action (Superstars) – Sound Stage Orchestra

The SUPERSTARS THEME! I took a shine to this after the Beeb resurrected Superstars a year or two ago. Though, when I say resurrected, I’m sure I mean “A chance for some past it celebreties and some dodgy presenters to sun themselves up on a sunny island for however long it took them to record it. I mean, does Johnny Vaughan *need* another holiday? What’s wrong with the swimming baths at Rhyl? That’s where Ron Pickering was every week! Needless to say, Sportstarts has not returned to our screens during 2006. Whew. Only a few tracks to go.

(UPDATE: Superstars is back for Summer 2008, on Channel 5. Although I only caught about 5 seconds of it, it doesn’t appear that they use this theme anymore. For shame My mistake! After actually watching an episode, they do still use this theme.).

(28) The Big Match – Sound Stage Orchestra

I’m divided about this one to be honest. It’s the famous track. Fast paced. Usual structure. Start. Mad oragan solo. End, same as the start, but with a bitey ending. But was it BBC or ITV?

(29) Tour De France – New Concert Orchestra Conducted By Nat Nyll

Nat Nyll. Now there’s a name that rolls off the tongue. No, I’m only joking. Never heard of him, or the theme.

(30) Football Fanfare – Melodi Light Orchestra Conducted By Ole Jensen

Oh, god. It’s back to Melodi Light, with another load of bollocks I’ve never heard before.

So, it’s clear, to me, which tracks are the stand-out ones, and which ones are a complete waste of disc. It is, of course, my personal opionion, and someone reading this could be jumping up and down at the prospect of hearing “Goodwood Gallop” again. And they can, if you buy the CD, which I assume is still in print.

Here’s the lowdown, should you wish to buy it…

UK Code: CD GOAL 1
Something Code: THE GREAT SPORTING EXPERIENCE 7243 5 56711 2 7
EMI Records.
Running Time: 71:16
Time to type: Considerably Longer

I enjoyed that. Normal service WILL resume shortly.