A veritable smorgasbord of East Coast misery (Day 1)

A couple of years ago, during the height of what I affectionately call, the Panny-D (admittedly, not a name I invented myself), I came up with the idea of going to a random town, spending a couple of days there, and ultimately raiding the nearby charity shops. I thought it would end up no more than a drunken thought at the height of an insanely depressing time. A couple of months ago, I spoke to Chris about the idea… and he bloody loved it. He also thought it would be great to visit some… er, “lesser known towns”, and explore the sights, sounds, and almost certainly, smells of these different places. A plan was concocted, and before I knew it, we were booked up and winging our way down to the lovely fishing village of Skegness.

So, Friday came, I packed the essentials (a memory card full of music and a couple of T shirts), and off we went. Of course, just going to Skegness would have been a bit of a wasted journey without other stops, so on the way down, I chose a couple of other places, namely Scunthorpe and Grimsby. Chris almost forgot about the Scunthorpe bit, but luckily I reminded him about it with only 0.9 miles to go before the turn off. This would turn out to be the best move of the day. More on Grimsby later.

I had plotted a few places to look at in Scunny, (well, two car parks and a charity shop). Turns out the first car park apparently must have been an NHS one or something because it was closed. Luckily, the second one was open, and even better, it was free for two hours. That couldn’t have worked out any better.

So, charity shops, then. There were a few. I have absolutely no recollection of which ones we visited, but I do know the first one didn’t stock CDs. Oh no. Thankfully, this wasn’t the one I’d plotted on ye olde Googles, and I did pick up “5 for a quid” from one further down the road… this was a struggle, as it would appear some old folks’ home had just had a clear out of the ex-residents’ rooms, or something, as there were 8 shelves of absolute tat.

Of course, the next shop would be this charity shop that I’d located on Google maps, it looked huge, and normally, that’s a good sign. Off we went, and, I quickly began to doubt my map reading skills.. At some point, we’d ended up in the middle of some housing estate. That clearly wasn’t right. I even confirmed that it was open via the googles, so there was absolutely no way it had closed down. Absolutely no way at all. Google wouldn’t lie to me, would it?.

Turns out it had closed down.

Well not quite. It had just moved location, and by pure chance, we stumbled upon where it was now located. I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in a collection of CDs in all of my entire career of trawling the shops. Ugh. I came out with ONE Paul Young CD and at the time, I wasn’t entirely convinced I didn’t have it in the collection. Of course, I could have checked the database, but I don’t think I could have faced the pain of spending an hour looking for this place, only to come out with nothing. Chris almost bought a knitted psyduck from another shop on the way down. I think this is his first foray into the world of pokemon

Overall, I enjoyed Scunthorpe. It probably would have been better if I didn’t send us on a wild goose chase looking for a shop that no longer existed, but in my defence, The Internets told me it was open.

Our 2 hours parking was completed with 18 minutes to spare, and off we popped to Grimsby…. oh my. A small part of me (read: ALL of me) wished we’d just plopped a couple of quid in the Scunny parking meter and spent a bit more time there. Grimsby is the land that time forgot. In fact, not just time. I think EVERYTHING forgot Grimsby..

Unsurprisingly, My first interest was a charity shop we’d passed on the way in. Chris stopped in a nearby car park to get some water, and I walked along. It became apparent that one of the myths I’d heard about Grimsby was entirely true. It really does smell of fish. And the charity shop was an absolute blow-out, as I hasn’t read the sign correctly…it was simply just a furniture shop, and didn’t sell CDs. Bah

We attempted to get into the town centre. Now, I can’t claim to know much about town planning and traffic management, but my word. Whoever designed the road layout and traffic light system in Grimsby, needs chopping up and feeding to the ample seagulls. It’s HORRIBLE.

Luckily, the town centre is incredibly picturesque.

By sheer luck, we found a carpark, and abandoned the car.

I’m not too sure what to say without coming across overly offensive, but….wow. The smell of fish was soon overpowered by the smell of weed. The few charity shops I raided weren’t even that good. there was a pretty little shopping precinct… thing, and a church of some description. Chris mentioned that he’s like to come back and visit this place…. Sights, sounds and smells of the fishing industry? Yeah, you’re going back there on your own, mate.

I did get a flashback of home, as there was an Indoor market that was almost completely deserted…

One thing that I did see, was some baby pigeons. Not very often you see those, which is just as well, as they were ugly little feckers

That was about it for Grimsby. Charity shops raided, the local “sights, sounds and smells” were successfully “endured”, it was time to make our way to Skeggy.

We got there at about 5PM. The guy from the B+B introduced himself to me and Chris. He was called Mike, and his wife, whom I never got the chance to meet, was called Yvonne. He asked us if we’re here for the scooter weekend. “Hartlepool”, replied Chris, presumably mis-hearing the question. At least it wasn’t me making an awkward faux pas for once. Turns out there was a scooter/mod rally thing on this particular weekend. Every hotel / B+B had scooters parked outside, and every band was playing The Jam.

The B+B was lovely. Completely spotless, and just a tiny walk from the local facilities… And by that, I mean the charity shops, Indian restaurants, and more importantly, the pubs. I only got one particularly bad photo of the outside of the place…

We dumped our stuff in the room, and fired up Google Maps one more time, and aimed it to the first Indian that didn’t have a shocking rating, and that place was called “Saffron”. Unlike the earlier incident, the technology didn’t fail us and we ended up walking there without incident.

A vindaloo and a pint later, we tried to find a nice quiet pub. That was a bit tricky, seeing as it was the afore-mentioned “Mod weekend”, and just a sunny weekend in general. We had a pint in the Wetherspoons whose name escapes me. The Red Lion? We soon decided that this was shit. After all, it was a Spoons. Time to look for somewhere else.

There was a strange deserted spot between the bars and the seafront. Seemed very eerie. Luckily that meant there as a small place called “The Tipsy Cow” that happened to be very quiet. Ideal!

A couple of pints later, we headed out for a walk along the seafront. It was your typical seaside resort, even at 10pm. Loud music, garish lights….

Speaking of lights, I was in streetlight heaven. The majority of the streets were lit by SOX (low pressure sodium) lighting. It must have been decades since I’d witnessed a scene like this, and seeing as this light source has been phased out, it’ll probably be the last time too.

That pretty much concluded Day 1. We spent an hour or two watching Chris Morris clips on YouTube, and then it’ll be Day 2.

Eurovision 2022! Hurrah!

It’s one of my favourite times of the year. A time when I sit down and spend an entire night listening to potentially terrible music

The normal rules apply… Refresh this page to hear my thoughts on a particular song…

I’m already looking forward to “Give That Wolf A Banana”… In a perfect world, the best song will win, but we all know that Ukraine are going to win…

Here we go! Well, if the intro songs are to go by, this isn’t going to be too bad. No idea what they were (and I’m not referring to that “Give Peache a Chance” crap), but I quite liked them. Laura Bazini, or someone. I’ll probably look her up later.

Oh good lord, there’s a parade of the flags now. I think I’ve started this a bit early. Still enough time to nip for a piss before the real action starts

Oh no! Apparently, there’s going to be a load of “emotional ballads” this year.

Czech Republic: We Are Domi – Lights Off

Here we go! Bit of an 80s vidbe to it, not much of a tune. The flashing effects aren’t really doing much for the compression, considering I’m watching via iplayer. It’s definitely been the best song of the contact so far, but I’m sure there’ll be better.

Romania: WRS – Llámame

Well, the crowd are clapping. Nil points for whatever the bloke’s wearing, however. the intrumental bit’s pretty catchy, which isn’t great, seeing as this is a song contest. I’d probably prefer this over the first one if I’m honest.

Portugal: MARO – Saudade, Saudade

“Harmonised introspective ballad”. says Graham Norton. I don’t know what to make of it. Oh wait, yes, I do. It’s dreadful. I genuinely disliked everything about that. NEXT!

Finland: The Rasmus – Jezebel

Always amuses me when actual bands that I’ve heard of enter this competition. It’s certainly more uptempo than the last one, and that’s probably all I can say about it. Oh, wait, there was a nice little key change there. It’s improved it somewhat.

Switzerland: Marius Bear – Boys Do Cry

The question that Mr. Norton asked was “Will it stay in the memory?” I can guarantee it will NOT. this is pretty much everything wrong with music these days. Has there been a shortage of drumkits? He’s got a whiny voice like a mile Adele. Naaaaah.

“Boys do CRAAAAAAAGH”.

France: Alvan & Ahez – Fulenn

Ooh, I like this one. Well, I did until they started singing. Don’t know if it’s me, but the verse bit sounded ever so slightly out of time? La la la le li lo, lu, lm, lx, etc. Saying that, it’s one of the few that I’d listen to again so far.

There now follows a human sacrifice”. Hahahah.

Norway: Subwoolfer – Give That Wolf A Banana

I do love a good novelty song. And this is probably my favourite so far. SOMEONE GIVE THAT WOLF A BANANA. And they repeated the word “Yum” 90 times.

Armenia: Rosa Linn – Snap

Oh, it’s another ballad, but this one’s not too bad. I’m thinking KT Tunstall? I do actually really like this one. I’d say this is my favourite so far. I’d definitely listen to this one again. Deux points.

Italy: Mahmood & Blanco – Brividi

TO TERRY! Up to 9 songs already. Is it a ballad in Italian? well, I don’t understand, but the crowd appear to be loving it… I, however, do not. Now, where did I put that beer…

Spain: Chanel – SloMo

A song originally written for J-Lo, did he say? oooh, I’m sorry, I’ve totally zoned out of this song, she has a lovely bottom. I might have to watch this one back later. Good lord. That’s one way to be memorable.

Netherlands: S10 – De Diepte

“Something completely different”. Yeah, not amazing, but I’ve just noticed how much the backing scenery looks like the old “Taito” arcade games booting up…

Ukraine: Kalush Orchestra – Stefania

Well, this wasn’t what I was expecting. I have no idea what the guy’s wearing (it’s like when you put a lampshade on your head when you’re a kid), and I have no idea what he’s singing, but… it’s actually OK. When I read “Orchestra”, I was expecting another ballad, but this is a folky / rap crossover thing. With flutes. Not bad. Not bad at all.

It’s probably going to win.

Germany: Malik Harris – Rockstars

Oh, god. It’s that style of singing again. instead of “fast”, it’s pronounced fhaaaaaruuust”. “Rhhhockstaaaaaus”. I can’t get past the awful vocals. there’s a rap section that is a carbon copy of “Headlights” by Eminem and that guy off Fun. It’s a shame, because the song has got better as it went on, but, that style of vocal is just…. no.

Lithuania: Monika Liu – Sentimentai

Oooh, old style Eurovision I have a feeling I like this…. Well, it’s certainly got a disco vibe, but it just doesn’t get going. It’s like a slightly faulty kettle that never gets to boil, just sits there almost bubbling away. Still, it gave me a chance to go and fix some spelling errors.

Azerbaijan: Nadir Rustamli – Fade To Black

You think he’d have got dressed up. Shame that it’s another ballad. Nope, it’s a nil points for me. I take it there’s not a break between the songs because I need a wee again now.

Belgium: Jérémie Makiese – Miss You

Well, Graham Norton was right when he said the show was “toploaded”. Some of the best songs at the start, and the rest towards the end.

Greece: Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord – Die Together

Hh no, “a batch of ballads”. If this was on CD I’d have skipped it after the first few seconds. Eventually, it got going. hmmm, I thought she was going to have a Bjork moment there.

Iceland: Systur – Með Hækkandi Sól

It’s a ballad, but I like it. It’s as if the Corrs attempted country. Out of all the ballady ones, this has been my favourite so far.

Moldova: Zdob şi Zdub & Advahov Brothers – Trenulețul

The ballads are done. Hurrah! YES! this is brilliant! This is what Eurovision is all about. After sitting through all of those bloody ballads, this is exactly the antidote to them. I think whoever owns the rights Blitzkreig Bop could sue them for copyright though… I absolutely loved that.

Sweden: Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer

Swedent are often my favourite, with “Invincible / Evighet” by Carola, being one of my favourite songs of all time”, and that Stormvind one from 1990, also by Carola. this one’s got a good instrumental. Vocalist sounds a bit like a drunk nanna on a karaoke though

Australia: Sheldon Riley – Not The Same

His face looks like the front door of a butchers. Did not like that one bit.

United Kingdom: Sam Ryder – Space Man

Here we go. The first time I’ve heard this song, at least I think so anyway. Yep, I like that one. Bleepy backing music. Guitars, and that overproduced percussion that’s been sadly lacking all night. That was great. Definitely not nil point this year.

Poland: Ochman – River

Three songs left. Mike made a balls-up and just caused Poland “holland”. Oh. Now if we had a nanna doing a karaoke earlier, now we’ve got the over-confident bloke doing karaoke. that’s a little unfair. I’ve heard worse tonight, but I’m certainly not going to rush out and add this to my CD collection any time soon.

Serbia: Konstrakta – In Corpore Sano

This will forever be known as the “Meghan Markle” song (or however it’s spelt). I think this one is the worst one of the night.

Estonia: Stefan – Hope

Awww, I’m actually gutted that it’s over for another year. 24 songs, 1 to go. Acoustic guitar, bit of whistling. Ennio Morricone would be turning in his grave, he’s totally ripped off “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”… and I really like it. A decent one to finish the night on…. It could have done with a key change, but that was great.

Super Plorrds. It’s super.

Ahhh yes, the Greaseweazle is the gift that keeps on giving, and I’m happy to report that I’m not the only one enjoying its greasy goodness.

You may remember, waaay back in the early days of the blog (in a post that’s probably hidden now) , that I talked about an Amiga game I used to play, called Plorrds. It came free on an Amiga Power coverdisk, and I loved it. Played it for hours. I even partially put it down to my crap GCSE results, as I spent so many hours staying up and playing it. Of course, the real reason might have been that I’m just a bit thick, therefore I like to blame the former.

Back in 2001, I started a job at a (now long defunct) company. The first person to introduce me to the company, was a bloke called Glen. At some point over the next few years, myself and Glen got talking about the Amiga.

At some point, the words “Plorrds” got dropped into the conversation. “Oh Yeah, I remember that!” I said, excitedly. Glen responded with “Well, I programmed it”. If there was a sound of a jaw hitting a desk, it would be a sort of “fop” sound. I couldn’t help but feel like I was in the midst of a celebrity.

Fast-forward a couple of months or so. The date is November 5th, 2001. I had just invested in a shiny new Amiga 600 (shiny and new aren’t exactly words I’d use for it, but at least it worked), and was rooting through some of my old disks. Out popped Plorrds. “Huzzah!” I thought, as I plonked the disk in the drive, and waited patiently for the menu to come up…. aaaand “Disk read error”. Oh. It turned out the disk was completely ruined. 

At some point during the intervening 21 years, Glen mentioned there was a “Super Plorrds”, but it had never got released. After my (many) posts about the Greaseweazle, Glen contacted me and asked if they were worth getting, as he had a large amount of disks from back in the day that he wanted rescuing.

I advised that it was exactly what he was looking for, so he rushed out and bought one… Or rather, sent away for one.

A week or so later, he sent me a message confirming it was all working. Of course, my next question was if Plorrds still existed.

“Even better than that”, he replied. “The unreleased Super Plorrds still exists”, and I could have the exclusive first look!

As promised, an email plopped into my mailbox a short time later, with a disk image attached.

I fired it up, and I was transferred back to 1995, albeit with more music, different colour scheme, and even different gameplay.

The premise is extremely simple. You start with a grid of numbers, half with plus figures up to 10, half with minus figures up to 10. The trick is, one player can only move horizontally, and the second player can only move vertically. The winner is the player with the highest score. Obviously. The game ends when all of the squares are gone, or a player can no longer move.

The trick is to plan ahead. You COULD go for just the highest value square, but before you know it, player two could lure you into a row of negative points. The real trick is to plan ahead, even sacrifice a few points, if it means your opponent can do nothing than lose more points than you. It gets trickier when you start running out of possible moves, and your massive lead could be wiped out within a matter of moves.

If you play the CPU, there are a number of difficulty levels. I’ve been playing the game for almost 30 years and I’ll be lucky if I can get past level 4 or 5. I don’t think I’ve ever played another human at it. It’d be great if that was a thing, as after almost 25 years, I still royally suck at it…