It’s as if you just want to read about my buying records.

I normally abandon these posts where I’m typing away at the keyboard, and I clearly get drunker and drunker as the post goes on, but this seemed like a lot of text to waste, even if what I’ve written is painfully bad. Congratulations if you mate it to the end…. flashback to last Saturday in 3…2…1…

I know that it’s the 21st century, and that little round pieces of plastic aren’t fascinating to many people, but I don’t care. I’ve just discovered a few things today that are life-changing. In the sense that I’ve learned about them today, and I know they exist now and… oh, I don’t know where I was going with that whole “Life Changing” analogy.

As regular viewers to my twitter feed will know, I have been engaging in a project entitled “shit Shop Saturday”. That’s not to say that the shops themselves are shit, far from it, but I go out and buy music from charity shops in nearby towns. This is done solo, as nobody can put up with me rifling through charity shops. My only company is my phone, and an MP3 player, loaded with back catalogue episodes of Ron “Boogiemonster” Gerber’s radio show known as Crap From The Past. That radio show deserves its own blog entry, which I’ll get round to someday.

Anyway, back to “Shit Shop Saturday”. Last week was Newcastle, the week before Sunderland. I had pretty much exhausted the vinyl / CD capabilities of very local towns. It would appear I’d have to travel further away. Northallerton is a town pretty much on the border of “Have you got a mental defect?” How many people would travel 26 miles to buy crap?

Well, I can, quite honestly say, that I’ve been doing “Shit Shop Saturday” since June, and going to Northallerton was the best decision I’ve ever made. My first stop was a little charity shop I’d found by accident. Yorkshire Cancer Society, I think. I’ll probably check on Google Maps later and correct this if it’s wrong, but it was a good starting point. And, once again, I shall go off on a tangent about local radio to explain what I’ve bought…

I must have been about 14 or 15. Either way, it was the time that puberty was slowly turning my blondies into blackies. A 2-minute radio jingle was played on TFM (a now defunct-in-everything-but-name radio station) advertising the fact that “We Are Teesside” and, we are indeed, “The Future, We’re The Pride”. Maybe because my hormones were all over the place, or maybe it was just because I waqs just listening to too much radio at the time, and this stuck in my head, but I ended up really liking the afore-mentioned jingle. It was an over-produced piece with just a hint of charity-single about it.

Predictably, the jingle fell out of favour, and was eventually replaced by a less catchy tune, and both of them fell off the airwaves. I believe Middlesbrough FC continued to use the “we Are Teesside” music for their home football matches for a few years afterwards. They might still do. I have no idea. One thing I did know, is that “We Are Teesside” was released as a single. because I had it in my hands, right there and then, in that afore-mentioned charity shop.

[If I accidentally publish this without the photo, it’ll be coming soon]

So, the sticker states 30p. Be aware that I picked up this beauty for 25p. It wasn’t until I get it home that I’d knew what I’d get. Amazingly, it’s in the Collectorz database, so it might be more popular than I’m thinking, but anyway… here’s your track listing…

01 We Are Teesside (Squad Mix) 03:31
02 We Are Teesside (Footbal Mix) 03:29
03 We Are Teesside (Radio Mix) 02:01
04 The River Song 01:41

Track 1 is an extended version of the original jingle, with extra vocal sections either left out of the radio version, or recorded specifically to turn the TDC advertising tune into a football song, and a slightly revamped backing track), and I presume, Middlesbrough FC singing the “We Are Teesside, We’re the future, we’re the pride” bit.

Track 2 is worse. Instrumental version, but with radio commentary from TFM about them getting promoted to the Premire Footballs Group.

Track 3, thankfully, is the original radio jingle. It’s as good as I remember it, if not better.

Track 4 was the “replacement song”. When the radio execs tired of We Are Teesside, they comissioned another song. It wasn’t as good, and I can’t have heard it for 18 years, but instantly went “Ooooh, yeah, that song!” and then ejected the CD, because it wasn’t as good as “We Are Teeesside”.

So, that’s that CD explained, and I’ve already typed more than I should have. Back to Yarm then, and it’s fair to say that I trawled the length of the high street. Jamie S phoned me while I was in the 3rd shop, just before 11. The plan was, that I’d do my “Shit Shop Saturday”, and he’d pick me up, then we’d spend the rest of the day in Leeds. He said give him an hour to get out of bed ‘n’ shit, then he’d head off to pick me up. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the snooze function on Jamie’s alarm click for one, as I’d spent another hour walking around the shops, and shot him a text to make sure he was still awake. Nothing. Nada. The only thing that appeared to be buzzing was the plague of wasps that had ascended onto Northallerton. You know me and wasps. I wasn’t impressed. I headed off down a sides treet. The only reason I went down this side street is that I wanted to know the name of a certain shop. Google Maps had blurred it out, and my OCD was kicking in. Turns out it’s a shoe shop, but I continued walking to the end of the road. On Google Maps, it’s an angling shop. In 2013, it’s a shop that rents out jukeboxes and has lots of records. Jamie hadn’t rang me back, so he was defintely still asleep. It gave me enough time for explorin’.

I went through as much as I could of the singles (amisuingly in a section the owner called “The Singles Bar”… how apt). I picked the ones I wanted, and the owner then informed me there was a load more upstairs. He really wasn’t wrong. There were lots up there. In all, I think I spent about two hours in the shop, collecting 24 singles in the process. That’s just the start. There’s a record fair in Northallerton in 2 weeks, which the gentleman behind the counter is organising. That date is officially now on the calendar. I just need to find out where Northallerton Town Hall is. It can’t be hard to find.

Anyway, the reason why I’ve typed all of this bollocks? Yes, there was a reason, and it’s all down to “Moonlight Shadow” by Mike Oldfield. It’s a popluar song in its down right, but I remember it as my first ever experience with a “faulty” record. Flashback further, before descended testicles. It’s Xmas 1991. I’d been given a hi-fi for Xmas, and we make our yearly trip to Aunty Linda’s. I was given some records to “record to tape”. One of them was “Moonight Shadow”, and its B-side “Rite of Man”. I remember, it had no label printed on the B-side, meaning it was my first experience of a “rare” record. Rare in the fact it was a manufacturing defect.

We gave the records back, but still the B-Side “Rite of Man”, remained with me as a catchy tune.

Internet years passed, and I eventually found a copy as an MP3. Instead of the normal fade-out you’d expect from the single’s B-side, this version somehow omits the fade, and literally, you hear the backing track stop, and they stop singing, and pretty much pack up their tambourines and go home.

I’ve alwqays been familiar with the UK pressing. It fades out. Miracles don’t happen. However, I was in that record shop today, and despite having the UK copy, I thought I’d pick up the French pressing. Green, moulded label, 50p, what could possibly go wrong?

Nothing, as it appears this version is the one with the faulty ending.

At this point, I must have wandered off, doing something else. For the record (hoho, see what I did there?), you CAN find this “broken” version on CD, as Moonlight Shadow was released as a very early CD single. So, er, there you go. I’ll write some other shit shortly.

The flea market? On a Thursday?

For the long-time followers, you may remember that I used to enjoy my regular Wednesday trips to the Hartlepool Flea Market. I’m afraid to say that they will never happen again.

This is now a view that will probably never reoccur, for you see, the fleam market and the regular market have been combined to form one large market. A “supermarket”, possibly? Well, with some of the tat on offer, I’ll not use that phrase.

Today was my first visit to the afore-mentioned “merged” market. The whole day started off extremely un-promising. Thursday is our bin day, so imagine my disappointment when I go and collect the bin, only to feel the depressing feel of cold rain on my balding head. It looked that I’d be missing out on another week of erm.. new market activities. Thankfully, the rain disappeared instantly, and after a shit, shave and shower (only one of those is true), I donned my replacement phone headset, and headed off in the general direction of the town. It’s the first time I’d been out early enough on a Thursday morning to see everyone’s bottle/can recycling boxes full. It would appear that quite a lot of people on this estate have a lot of parties or alcohol problems.

By the time I’d reached the town on foot, the sun was beginning to break through. I had the misfortune of watching a seagull devour a pigeon to within an inch of its life, in the middle of one of the busiest roads in the town. This thing was going hell for leather on this poor pigeon. Traffic eventually forced the seagull to fly off, leaving a mangled, barely alive columbiform in the dead centre of the road. It was one of those “Wish I had my camera” moments. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I’m assuming, neither had that bloody pigeon.

Shaken up by this whole ordeal (not really), I yoinked some money out of the cash point, and headed in the general direction of the market. I wouldn’t say I’m overly impressed with the whole layout. There seems to still be a great divide between the “flea” and “standard” markets, yet the flea market feels horribly crowded. I can’t be the only one who thought this. While I was exploring the new CDs on Erics’s stall, Andy the Iridium Fan (ATIF) stood right alongside me (plus bike), and didn’t even recognise me until I uttered “Not talking to me, then?”. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or not that I’m not instantly recognisable from a distance…

Anyway. I got some “classics” from Erics stall, including Mike Oldfield’s “Music of The Spheres” for £1. I’ve been after that album for a while ever since I “heard” an “advanced” “copy”. It’s not my favourite of his, but it has its moments. I remember almost paying £14 for it in the now defunct Zavvi store in Middlesbrough, but I thought “I’ll come back later”. I never went back.

In all, I spent £10 on Eric’s stall. I got some absolute garbage which only I remember, such as “Sacred Spirit / Chants and Dances of The Native Americans”. I remember it for its classics such as Ly-o-Lay Ale Loya, and Yeha-Noha. Honestly, I’m not shitting you. I know these tracks. Imagine my shock when ATIF knew them also, as his dad had it on LP. After purchasing the CDs and departing with ATIF, I headed into the town centre. I decided to miss out on my usual pastie, and instead headed to Iceland to see if they had started stocking the “Birds Eye Essentials” chicken curry again. The answer was negative, and left the store empty handed. I turned my attention to Heron, where I picked up 4 rasperry Ribenas for £1, and two Ross chicken curries for £1. The latter curry is, if I’m honest, diabolical. Small, hardly any rice, full of peas, complicated instructions which suggest the use of the “Defrost” section of the microwave, and they almost always come out drier than a nun’s (Don’t go there -Ed). The Ribena, however, was awesome, despite the fact I drank three of them, and then realised I’d hit my recommended sugar level for the day. No, seriously.

A 288Ml serving of Rasperry Ribena contains 30 grams of sugar. A 500ml can of Carling contains 11 grams. You’ll forgive me for sticking with Carling, then.

Home Bargains was my next stop, where I stocked up on Wispas, cherry coke and rice. Oh, and handwash.

I decided that I couldn’t take the town anymore, and grabbed the next bus back to Mercuryvapour Towers. It arrived in only a few minutes. Unfortunatelty, a phone malfunction meant that I couldn’t listen to music on the way home. Instead, I was left listening, and unfortunately, taking in the conversation from the two old biddies in front of he… “Eeeh, well you shouldn’t let her upset you…. that’ll be what she wants…”. I clearly never got the full conversation. I didn’t particularly care. Hopefully, typing it in here will help me forget.

Daddykins was out when I got home. I ate my curries, and spent the rest of the afternoon in a vegetative state. One thing I was looking forward to was Wimbledon. I never thought I’d say that on here, but I was hooked on what was the most historic day of tennis ever.. I was more interested in the fact that the day before, I’d noticed that the scoreboard had crashed at 47-all. It was something that should never have happened. It did. History was made. It was the first time a flip-dot display had made the news since… well, Chad liked my last post, I can’t have that happening twice.

Scoreboard glitches were rectified, and eventually, the match ended with Isner winning. The final score was something stupid.

Day two…

The day was Tuesday, and I was awoken by the sound of the building site directly outside of the hotel. it was 7:30. I was less than pleased. Still, it gave me the chance to view exactly what the place looked like in the daytime.

Well, apart from the mass of mud and machinery, it’s not too bad. the River Spree is the stretch of water in the background, and the row of cafes and bars behind it were where most of our Euros went. I’ll mention more about these as the days go on, as we didn’t venture down this way on the first couple of days.

At approximately 10:30, it was time to find breakfast. Not easy in a place you dont know too well. The plan was to head northerly up Friedrichstrasse (the long street the hotel sat on), and hope we come across some kind of shop.

Within seconds, my dream came true. There was an indian no more than 100 yards from the hotel. I almost dropped to my knees in floods of happiness. Even better, we found what looked like an Irish bar too. So, that was the night sorted, and my food sorted for the week. Grub at the indian, along to the Irish bar to drink. Hurrah!

We kept walking, and eventually came across a little internet cafe, though I decided not to use the internet. Chris and Jonathan, however, opted for a sarnie and a cuppa, and I enjoyed a bottle of coke I’d bought earlier on, though it does taste different over there.

So, the sarnies were eaten, and we carry on with our exploration of the city. At this point, there was no particular plan to the journey, so we picked a direction, and continued walking. According to Google Earth, we were heading along Oranienburger Strasse. This seemed to be the old part of East Berlin, with many old tall buildings. Clearly, it was my first chance to appear in a photo in Berlin….

As we didn’t have a clue where we were, and found these posters rather odd, we reached a landmark (a railway bridge) and headed back. We noticed that street also had a lot of nice looking bars and eateries on there too, so we decided we’d also visit there later too.

One thing that became clear, however, is that we were not going to make it far in the blistering heat. Seemed that every few minutes, we were stopping off for drinks, which were small and ludicrously expensive.

I think that bottle of water cost me 2 euros. Bah.

They say that mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. But only Englishmen go out in the midday sun, walk into a random chemist and buy a bottle of suncream for €13.50… which is exactly what I did. Or rather, Chris went in and bought it for me. I gave him a tenner. My jaw *dropped* when he came out asking for more money. Still, at least it was a worthy purchase.

On the previous night, I failed to mention that after we arrived, we had a very short walk around outside the hotel, and noticed that during the day, there were bus tours which took you round Berlin. This was going to be our next activity.

The bus trip cost €20, which seemed like a lot, but the ticket lasted for the full day, which meant we could get off at any of the stops, and look around. The guide was provided by a pair of headphones mounted in the seat, and a button on the seat itself where you could choose the language. Amusingly, the only place we stopped off was the main train station, or the Hauptbahnhoff. At least I think that’s how you spell it. The main reason we stopped off, however, is that I’d noticed some sand sculptures, which seemed interesting.

As can clearly be seen by that, I didn’t take my main camera on this trip, instead I opted for my camcorder. Disastrously, the battery didn’t last more than 20 minutes of filming, as I kept forgetting to turn it off. Therefore, it was up to my trusty cameraphone to catch most of the photos. Due to the fact the headphones attached to my seat were broken, I don’t really have much of an idea what I was taking photos of, though there were some impressive buildings, such as this brick towerblock.

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So, with the trip completed, we had a little more idea of what was on offer, and the best places to see. And, the fact they were all pretty much in the vacinity of the hotel.

We decided to complete our full day in the land of Sauerkraut by getting ready and going out for something proper to eat. And where did we go? Well, would you believe it, we ended up in the indian. Hurrah! Now, something I was surprised about was that the majority of the food places have most of their seating outside. This was certainly a new experience for me. So, we were sat down, in wicker chairs, under large parasols advertising some kind of German Pilsner. We ordered food, and didn’t have to wait too long for it to arrive. While we were eating, a red squirrel scurried across the floor next to us. That was odd. Not only was this the first time I’d seen a squirrel close up, it was a red one too. These are rare as fook here in England, so it was a nice and welcome surprise.

The food was magnificent. Large portions, good rice, nice soft naan breads. It was better than most places at home, and it wasn’t too spicy.

After the food was pouched, it was time to go out and experience some German beer. Of course, we couldn’t resist a stroll into the Irish bar, seeing as it was only a few metres away from the indian. Strangely enough, drink-wise, this happened to be the low point of the trip. I got a pint of Fosters (well, 500ml of Fosters) which was warm, and tasted like a mixture of cider and wine, and Chris and Jonathan got a pint of Newky Brown, which tasted equally as bad. After 1 drink, we simply couldn’t stay there any more.

We returned down the same route we’d taken on the morning, in order to check some of the bars they had on offer… we found this little place with a courtyard. It was rather empty, and rather nice. Pils flowed like water, despite it being expensive. I think it was €4 for 500ml…

Suddenly, the poster I was leaning against in the earlier picture made perfect sense – we were walking down the red light district. It’s funny how the majority of them asked if we wanted a good time in perfect English, as if they could tell just by looking at us. We refused, and kept walking to the final bar of the evening. a mock American diner… now, I’m sure if any of us at this point had actually been sober, we’d have enjoyed it, but all the barman (who wasn’t German either) wanted to talk about was football. Ergh.

What I remember more than anything about this place was the “bar” itself. It was apparently made from some kind of translucent resin, with fluorescent tubes underneath it. The heat from the tubes, combined with the years of drinks spilled on it, caused your arms, glass and everything that touched it, to stick to the bar.

None of us fancied a conversation about football, so we made our excuses and left. Quickly. We, once again, had to head through the red light district on the way back to the hotel.

Something which I failed to mention is that whilst at the train station, Chris bought two 1 litre cans of lager, one of which he gave me. I enjoyed immensely. I attempted to go to sleep, listening to a radio station on my mobile – BRF 91.4 . The first song I heard was Mike Oldfield’s “Shadow On The Wall”. I’d never heard this played on the radio before. I was delighted.

After listening to some classic songs, I rolled over, and went to sleep. Day 3 was only a few hours away.