The record shop that almost destroyed me…

NOTE: I originally wrote this in a rather pissed-off and unhappy mood. I’ve slept on it since then… I’m only publishing it because everyone likes a car-crash style blog post.

Sigh. It’s a Saturday night. It’s one of those times when I really should be meticulously updating my record collection with the huge haul of wonderful vinyl that I have acquired. but no, I’m sat here with a can of Carling, freezing feet and a pet lip the size of an inflatable dinghy.

If you don’t bother with Facebook, or have me blocked for some reason, you won’t have seen my realtime updates. You won’t have noticed that I was due to travel to Newcastle to attend a local record shops’ “All you can carry for a tenner” deal.

So, let’s start from the very beginning, shall we? Approximately three weeks ago, I get tagged in a post which says “All the records you can cary for a tenner”. It’s one of those things that make your heartbeat skip a beat. Or that could have been the cholesterol in my blood. I don’t know, but I began to make plans in my head to go.

This was around the time that I got my eyes done, as you can remember from the previous post. Even from that moment, my gut was telling me not to bother. All the records you can carry for a tenner with my scrawny little pins? Would I really be getting my money’s worth? And then the logistical task of getting them from Newcastle to the leafy mansion known as Mercuryvapour Towers would be a nightmare.

I had a couple of offers of lifts, but these fell by the wayside, due to work commitments. So, I was literally on my own.

Flash forward to this morning. My alarm clock rings to the tune of… whatever the default alarm sound is on Ericsson phones. Despite knocking 7.5 pints back the night before, I was unusually ready for the occasion. Clothes were donned, pockets were lined with mandatory headphones, and a selection of “bags-for-life”, and I set off to catch the 9:02 train to Newcastle.

An uneventful journey took place, except the train was 6 minutes late.

Bing bong! The next station is Newcastle. Well, that’s what I imagined the announcement would have been, I was listening to the 12″ version of “Lambada” by Kaoma as we pulled into the station.

I walked the small journey where the record shop was, expecting to see a few people there… and well.

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For those of you who want to play along with Google Maps…

Click here

The queue starts where that blue wall is, and if you turn 180 degrees, then turn right at the end of the road, at the top is the shop. That’s your queue.

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I could have walked off. I’d already had backup plans. It was a nice day. Cold, but not raining. The backup plan was to get the metro to Whitley Bay. There are plenty of charity shops there, and they are all virgin territory to me. Yes, there’s a joke in there somewhere.

I joined the queue, mainly just to get a GPS location to post to Facebook, and to see how far it moved after 10 minutes. The answer was, not far. But, after 10 minutes. I thought I might as well see it a bit further.

30 minutes into it, and I wasn’t quite sure whether ice was forming in my blood, or whether the excess sugar in there was turning it to sherbert. Either way, the longer I waited, the more I was determined to stick it out. Every small march of a few steps closer up the road released a small fanfare in my mind, as it brought me closer to records, and more importantly, warmth.

Hours ticked by. I got sick of the music on my phone the instant it played One Direction (I can explain). I was getting colder by the minute.

2 hours into the ordeal, I turned the corner. There it was! The big, white sign… totally obscured by a sea of people… but at least I knew where it was! The Chinese Christian church, the Indian restaurant, the tattoo shop, and then the record shop. Heavenly angels sang overhead. It surely was almost over.

2 hours, 30 minutes ticked by. The moment I was dreading arrived. Years of heavy drinking means my bladder has been honed to become a finely tuned barrel, capable of holding enough liquid to fill the ballast tanks of a small passenger ferry. Unfortunately, thanks to years of spicy curries, the same can’t be said about my bowels. It was either flight, flight or shite. I had to rely on complete strangers to keep my place, and not see me as some kind of pushy-inny pushy-inner, when all I wanted to to was pushy-outy.

Thankfully, the matter was taken care of, thanks to a nearby pub, and I rightfully took my place back in the circle of life. Er, Sorry, the queue. Boredom was soon setting in, not just with me, but the rest of the queue. Someone even said “If I was here on my own, I’d have gone by now”.

Everything stalled at this point. The queue stopped moving. Very little progress was made for an hour, and we’re now up to 3 hours 30 minutes. It became clear this was because they were clearly running out of stock, and there were still about 50 people in front of me. My fears were confirmed, when a guy came out of the shop and announced that had virtually nothing left. Plenty of CDs, but the vinyl had all but gone. I was heartbroken. This always happens, whenever I do something like this, it never works out. I never get there. I am forced to live a life where I avoid queues because I know, I’ll get to the front, and they’ll have ran out of what I want. This was proven today, but in a more extreme scale.

I wanted to prove myself that I was being daft with this theory, but no, I was right, I am never destined to succeed with queues. I could be holding what I want to buy and they’ll still come up and say it’s out of stock.

It’s not very often these days that I feel rage, but that was one moment, where I walked out of the queue, and headed up Westgate Road, almost with my head in my hands, the last insult was having to walk past the place, and see the amount of people in there, clutching their piles of vinyl. I can imagine what they felt like on Bullseye, when Jim Bowen announced “Look at what you could have won”. I literally could have cried. Both shoulders had seized up from shivering. My back had pretty much locked from standing for so long.

I should have listened to my little bony arms and just not bothered.

I’ll tell you how bad I felt. I went charity shop diving afterwards. Mainly to warm up, mainly because there was no way I was going home empty handed. Here’s what I picked up…

A K-Tel instrumentals album called “Horizons”. K-tel for fuck’s sake.
Neil Young – Decade, 2CD set for £1.50. Actually, that’s not bad. Don’t mind a bit of Neil Young
Prefab Sprout – From Langley Part to Memphis…. scratched to buggery for 99p
The Adventures – Trading Secrets With the Moon… also badly scratched for 99p. It’s the follow-up to “Broken Land”, and I’ve never heard it. And, if those marks don’t come off, I never will.
Pete Yorn – musicforthemorningafter – I had one of his singles. The album was 50p. Suppose it’s worth a punt. No idea who he is.

Anyway, this browsing of CDs calmed me down a little, and I vented my spleen on the stores’ facebook page about their lack of communication.

Back to “the day after”. In hindsight, I probably should have calmed down first. My choice of words were harsh. It was pointed out to me that only 4 people work there. My conclusion is that it wasn’t their fault entirely. To a point, anyway. It’s not their fault the facebook posting spread like wildfire. It’s not their fault the amount of people turned up.

I do still think more could have been done to “help” the crowd, with more updates on stock levels and the likelihood of not getting anything. By that point, I’#d have been happy with a cup of water.

The little red bloke on my left shoulder, however thinks “£10 for everyone past the front door? Ker-ching!”

It’s an argument that could run and run. I do know, however, that “one bitten, twice shy” comes to mind, and next time an event like this happens, I shall think of my comfy, comfy pillows, and the duvet that I really could do with replacing.

It’s finally, finally happened.

Since I started attending flea markets and car boot sales back in about 1993, when my Aunt Rose took me down one Wednesday morning, I have been after owning one object. It has, as far as I know, never been there. Everything else has been sold, including broken smoke alarms, rubbers in potties, and more second-hand underwear than you could shake a nasty gonorrhea infection at.

This particular object is, thankfully, none of the above, it is in fact a 7″ copy of “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby and The Range. Eagle-eyed flickr-ists will notice I already have one copy, but I got that from ebay. It’s easy to get them ebay. There’s no challenge, and no sense of achievement.

Yeterday, I awoke on the sofa at 8AM. It looked like a sunny day, so off I went.

Something which is very odd, is the fact that around near where I live, they’re flattening the old hospital buildings which have been there for years. Lots of years. I’ve discussed on here that I’m glad to see the back of them, as they were very cold and sinister. Not nice places to be in at all, especially when you’re a six year old getting your chest x-rayed in them… ooo, childhood flashback.

Anyway, yes. There buildings, I believe, date back to the days when treatment was more of a punishment. I have heard it used to be a mental asylum of some sort. The surrounding walls actually have broken glass bottles embedded in the concrete. I don’t know whether that was to stop people getting in, or to stop them escaping. I guess I’ll never know. Either way, these buildings have now be reduced to this.

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Anyway, I put the camera away, and headed towards the flea market, a mere short bus ride away, which cost me £1.05. Jaysus.

I had no intention of staying a while, or anything over a few minutes, if I’m honest, but it was pretty busy, and there were a good few stalls there, for once.

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However, the ones that stood out, were the ones I didn’t expect to be any good. There’s always a few stalls which appear to be full of garbage and rusty metalwork or rusty tools, which nothing worth looking at. I walked past one of these stalls, and saw some random guy flipping through some records. I had been bitterly disappointed by the CD’s on offer from one of the stalls which are normally quite good (£1 each, and I’ve bought some great ones from there in the past.), so I thought I’d take a look. That’s when I found “it”. Its yellow, creased cover, staring back at me. The title, arranged in a semi-circle, in the middle of the cover. It was all there. I was holding it in my hands. For ten whole seconds, I just laughed to myself, and thought “Heh, Cool” as I placed it back in the box along with the rest of the records I was holding.

Of course, I suddenly had a moment of clarity, and it suddenly struck me, that this was the moment I’d waited for since way back. Every single flea market, car boot sale, record fair I’d ever been to, had been all for this moment. I was about to buy “The Way It Is”. I handed my shiny pennies over (well, OK, they were 50p each, and I bought about another 6), and I walked away with a sense of satisfaction, as if to say to myself “I’ve done it. It’s all over. It’s finished”.

The day didn’t just stop there, I continued my searching for other stuff. The next stall along had an Andrew W.K’s “I Get Wet” buried amongst the likes of Engelbert Humperdinck and Pavarotti. Needless to say, I snapped that up. I’ve been after that CD for years too.

I walked around the stalls, to see that Eric has returned permanently. Eric owns one of the good stores, he used to be the one near the Corner House (or whatever it’s called now), but in his own words, he gave up for a couple of years. I did miss his stall, as he always had a good (and varied) collection of CDs. He’s back, but with a smaller CD collection. A few other things are missing too, but hopefully he’s going to be there for a few more years to come. He had a sealed copy of Sandi Thom’s CD (oh, I wish I was a punk rocker, etc) for £2, so I bought that. I’ve not listened to it yet, as I’ve got the Andrew W.K. CD on repeat. His album is only 35 minutes long, but every track is a winner. The longest track is 3:33 in length.

Overall, a fantastic day music-wise.