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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Bye-bye Steetley, part 1

I know I’ve left it a bit late, seeing as there’s less than 12 hours, before this local landmark gets blown up, but I am indeed sad to see the old thing go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Those of you not from Hartlepool won’t know this place, unless you’ve came into Hartlepool from the north. It’s the big huge chimney that stood next to the tran track, and was surrounded by rubble. After the entire site being a death trap for many years, at 11AM tomorrow, the chimney stack will be demolished. the rest of the site, which has also been flattened over the last few months, will then be covered with crushed stone and a housing estate built on top of it. A sad, undignified end to something which was, for my entire life, such a prominent part of it. For those of you who know Mercuryvapour Towers, you’ll know that the chimney is visible from the front window, which means I saw it at least once a day for my entire 32.5 years of existence (minus holidays and foggy days, naturally).

The question that I keep asking myself is, am I sad to see it go? Some days I’d look out and think “I really wish they’d get rid of that eyesore”, next day I’ll look out and think “I’ll miss it when it’s gone. The end of an era”. Its purpose was to extract magnesia from seawater.

Steetley has had many names over the years. Some readers may remember it as the Pallister works, others simply as “Redland Magnesia”, which was one of the last companies to own it before it closed. I’m pretty sure most of the local area knows of at least one person who worked there.

There are three things that were certain in nearby West View – death, taxes, and the fact that Steetley would kick out its unmistakable stench as soon as your mam put the washing out. The smell was an ungodly mix of chlorine and rotten eggs, and if the wind was coming in off the sea, the entire estate spent the next half-hour gagging. The afore-mentioned Washing would also need to be done again too, as there would be little yellow spots all over it.

Steetley also featured in the very first time I borrowed a camcorder, was Wayne’s. Some of you may, or may not mention Wayne. He was someone who I went to school with for a bit, was really good friends with up until about 2000, and then almost completely disappeared off the face of the planet. Past mentions of him on here, feature a recording of his mam asking Wayne… “Is he still an alco?” More on that, in another post.

Anyway, the very first camcorder I ever borrowed was his. He had an interest in lasers, and we both lived a mile from Steetley, albeit at different angles. One night, he left his camcorder over here, and we talked over ye olde CB radio while he shone the laser pointer onto Steetley to see if I could see it, or if the camcorder would pick it up. The answer was a resounding no. I don’t know why either of us thought it’s be possible to see a dot the size of a pinhead on a structure 1 mile away. Still, I got to use his camcorder for a bit, and yes, I still have the tape I made somewhere. I doubt he still has his copy. In fact I don’t even think he remembers who I am.

The fact that Steetley was also visible from so far away was also another “attraction” for me. As a kid, I made a couple of trips to Roseberry Topping. I always wanted to know if Steetley was visible from there. Unfortunately, each of the days we’d chosen were no good for viewing. It wasn’t until April last year that I confirmed with my own eyes and camera that it was visible – a distance of exactly 14.67 miles.

I had plenty more memories going around in my head, but it’s approaching 2AM. I’m going to get some shots in the morning before it goes…
I have a million other memories and photos to go through,