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…

The Wesley, Hartlepool fire…

Sad news from anyone from the town, the iconic building known as “The Wesley” has had a major fire this evening.

I was in the comedy club at the Town Hall, and this was the scene about half an hour ago. One of the few remaining iconic buildings in Hartlepool.

Hartlepool. It’s a town on the… grrooOOooww.

Ah, it’s not the first time I’ve ripped off a Simpsons quote for a blog title, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I’m feeling a bit of a commoner today. I’ve been out and bought tickets to one of those footballing match things. You know, where grown men go around and kick a bag of air around for 90 minutes, whilst slack-jawed on-lookers shout things like “poppycock” at the referee, and question the poor man’s eyesight. Suddenly we’re all opticians, are we?

Of course, I jest, but it does seem a bit odd for me to actually plan in advance to go to a football match. It’s something that’s only happened three times before (we won 1-0 against Brentford in the 1991-92 season), lost against Oxford in… some other season, and lost 5-1 to Newcastle United in a friendly. So, I’ve got a 2-1 loss record on seeing Hartlepool play. It’s not looking good.

You see, the reason I bought the tickets, is that it’s a pivotal time for the club, and the town as a whole (not discounting the tickets were only a fiver). The match is Hartlepool V Doncaster, and it’s pivotal for both clubs, and the mathematics goes something like this…

If Hartlepool win, and Newport lose, Hartlepool stay in the league. If Doncaster win and Plymouth lose, they become League Two champions. In three days time, Hartlepool might be out of the English football league for the first time in their entire history. There’s been some squeaky bum moments in recent years, but I think this is the greatest yet.

Now, don’t quote me on this (bit hard, seeing as this is a blog), but I have a sneaking suspicion it could finish the once proud club off if the worst were to happen. Imagine if they go down to the conference, the club would be worth less, yet the area of land that the ground stands on is prime real estate, and with only a large car park behind it, a leisure centre well past its use-by date, and a great little pub, I can see the land being sold off to developers, and the whole area being yet another great big retail park. Which is something the town is crying out for, he says sarcastically.

So, Saturday evening could see a load of grown men cry. In fact I cried today, after they charged me £1.50 surcharge for using my credit card to buy the tickets. Robbing gits.

Obligatory “Pokemon Go” blog post

How do you get 100 Pikachus on a bus? Pokemon.

And, if you haven’t heard that joke before, you’ve been under a rock for the past 15 years, or you’ve not sat next to me for any period of time recently, because every time someone comes out with a Pokemon Go comment, I come out with that belter of a joke. And by “Belter”, I mean that I should be belted hard across the face. With a chair.

But it still gets a laugh from somebody. Sigh.

I know, I’m getting old, my knees are hurting from jumping on and off of these bandwagons, but this is one that I couldn’t pass, even though it’s possibly the “saddest” I’ve ever even got partially involved in.

Pokemon started off as a cash-in for Nintendo. A card game, highly successful console game, and of course, a long running cartoon. I personally paid absolutely no interest in any of these, so I had no idea what the hell Pokemon go was supposed to be.

So, what’s the premise of the game? Well, if you don’t know by now, you really should have stayed under that rock you’ve just crawled out from. You play the game on your phone. It starts off by having a street map of where you’re currently stood, and you walk around the area. Literally, walk. With your own two feet. Every so often, your phone will vibrate, and in the local vacinity, is a “pokemon” (short for pocket monster in case anyone’s still actually wondering), you click on the little monster, and it’ll appear on your phone screen, with whatever your camera is pointing at, as the background, so it looks like the pokemon is there in front of you. Obviously, when you move your phone, the pokemon moves with it, and you have to flick pokeballs to catch it. Sometimes, some pokemon are very common, and you’ll get sick of seeing them. They’re very easy to catch. Others are larger, and will run around, causing you to turn your phone 360 degrees, chasing after it, and often meaning you’ll miss with a pokeball and lose it, and some will break out, meaning you have to throw again to catch it

With me so far? No? That’s OK, neither am I, but I shall persevere.

The crafty thing is….. you only have so many pokeballs! and you have to earn more (along with other collectables) by visiting Pokestops. These are actual real life locations, usually landmarks, meaning if you want to actually get anywhere in the game, you have to get off your fat arse and get them. You can add “lures” to these real life locations, which means more imaginary pokemon visit there… and therefore more actual real life people who also play the game. And it works.

Some of you may remember in the Youtube video I posted a couple of months ago, where me and Chris went past “Jimmy’s Green”. I laughed because I thought it couldn’t possibly be a land mark. Well, here it is, swarming with Pokemon Go players…

Photo courtesy of ARD Photography
Photo courtesy of ARD Photography

I have a feeling this will be the same for areas up and down the country.

Here’s a couple of screenshots tro try and illustrate what it’s all about… This is me, walking across the street, and this little thing pops up in front of me…..
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… I have to flick the red ball towards it. If I hit it. I’ll capture it, and get points towards levelling up. The more you level up, the more you can capture easily, I presume.

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And here’s a wild Rattata I caught whilst sitting on the toilet. I could get him arrested for watching me like that.

And where would I be without the obligatory “Playing the game whilst pissed” photo…

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It’s one in the morning, As you can see, the bloody thing was to the left of me, as I was too busy trying to take the screenshot whilst walking after several pints that it had bounced out of view. I wasted so many pokeballs trying to catch that fecker, but a Hartlepudlian never gives up…

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Questions? You’ll have a few. But then again, too few to mention. So I’ll mention them for you.

“So, is there any point to the game?” Yes. You have to catch all of them. I think there are something like 136, and some are much rarer than others. Expect to do a lot of travelling if you’re going to attempt this.

“Aren’t you too old to be playing this”? Yes, and no

Yes, as in, I sort-of secretly play it. Obviously, you sort of have to wave your phone around flicking the screen at certain intervals, so I sort of do it in secret. I’ll load the app up when no-one’s around. I certainly wouldn’t go and hunt down a popular pokestop and join a group of people playing it. No, as in you’re never too old to have a bit of a walk, and if it adds to the “point” of the walk, I can’t see any harm in it. Remember, there’s no upper age limit on games (only perceived upper limits), and if I want to play it, I will. Though now that I’ve written this blog, I’ll probably never play it again.

“Where are the best pokestops in Hartlepool?” There’s loads in the town centre, as you’d expect. There’s quite a few on the Marina, especially around the lock gates (watch where you’re walking!), apparently, there’s 11 in Ward Jackson Park, and a load on the Headland.

Well, I think that covers most things. Comment if you have any other questions. I’m going for a Weedle in next door’s hedge.

Bye bye Steetley part 3, the demolition

Well, it’s all over. the dust has literally settled, there is officially no more steetley Chimney. After many decades overlooking the residents of Hartlepool, its fate was sealed at 11:06AM, and it crashed to the ground in a cloud of black smoke.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have as many cameras covering the event as I anticipated, but I still managed to get these…

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