I hate to drag you away from the excitement that’s been the Amiga posts (Trust me, there’s plenty more to come!) but yesterday was the day of my first COVID jab. Nothing more than that, nothing less. Just mainly for my records, and the fact this begins the 15 week path to freedom. Maybe.
Well, it just seems that I’m seeing the inside of hospitals more frequently than I am my own house at the moment. Sit down, dear friends, and I shall tell a story. For those of you who were looking forward to part three of the foot saga, that’s coming soon enough. Imagine this as a little side-episode into my unfortunate life, where I once again, end up in a hospital.
Today was a Saturday. (It’ll probably be Sunday by the time you read this, but never mind). Jamie S fancied a day trip to Newcastle via the train. It’s been a while since we’d done anything on the rattler, so it made a bit of a change. We got there at just before 2PM. The first stop (after a brief stop at a couple of charity shops) was to get some grub. Now, the worst thing about being ina big city at that time is trying to find somewhere to eat. Wagamama’s is my new favourite spot. I have a thing for their Firecracker chicken, it’s amazing. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the queue was pretty much out of the door. Bad news. Same for Nandos, so this meant we had to find somewhere else. A few months ago I’d had a lovely steak at Red’s BBQ place, so although it’s a bit more expensive, we agreed to go there. Perfect.
Meals were ordered, and I looked forward to my steak. I got it medium. Just fancied a change from medium rare. The food came, and I started. After one single solitary mouthful, the worst thing happened. I’d clearly not chewed my bit of steak correctly, because as I swallowed, I knew that it was not going down. Now, this sometimes happens if I have a large piece of bread, and normally a bit of a drink pushes it down and we’re good to go again. Nope, not this time.
I took a drink, and I couldn’t swallow it. It was going nowhere. The only thing that was shifting was the drink of coke I had, and that was coming upwards. Panic started to set in, some people thought I was choking. Some people slapped me on the back, but this didn’t shift it. The staff were concerned at this point. I went to the toilet to try and bring it up, but nope. Nothing happened. This steak was well and truly lodged.
The shopping centre staff came involved, and called 999. This was the first time I’d ever had anything like that called for me. There’s been a lot of firsts when it comes to hospitals over the last couple of months. Anyway, the 999 service recommended I go to the RVI. They weren’t sending an ambulance because I was obviously in no immediate danger. I could breathe. There was no blood. It was just a bit of stuck meat. An incredibly uncomfortable bit of stuck meat, and I didn’t realise until then, that the RVI was only 10 minutes walk away. I was told not to try and bring it up myself.
I could feel my body trying to shift this foreign object, like a sharp pain just below my throat., and the motion of walking really didn’t help.
It’s not until you’re unable to swallow properly that you realise just how much saliva you actually produce, and it had to go somewhere. Out of my mouth, and into pretty much every place I could find. Hedges, drains, anywhere. It was not pleasant, and I’m sure anyone else watching would have found me disgusting, without actually knowing what was going on..
We got to the A+E, Jamie S helped me check in because I was unable to speak without running to the door and expelling a load of saliva. Usual triage procedure took place. Blood pressure, heart rate, etc, and I was told to go back to the waiting area. This was awful. The action of sitting just made me feel worse, so I had to stand for the entire time. I’d often clear my head by going outside and resting on the barriers. Again, I was running to the toilet every few minutes to empty my mouth, and sometimes, this did trigger a vomit. A rather loud, painful vomit.. Naturally, there was very little coming up. Certainly no steak.
Time passed. Jamie S amused himself by extracting the urine, and keeping me updated on the football scores. After about an hour of waiting around, the third vomit session took place. Again, nothing of any significance happened A bit of liquid, but nothing resembling steak.
I went back outside to cool off, and then I noticed… I could swallow. I didn’t want to bring up anything. Had that last one fixed the problem? I came back inside, and Jamie S said he’d noticed I’d looked better. Immediately after this, my name was called, by the doctor. I went in.
“Doc, this might literally be your easiest issue of the day”.
Indeed it was, he gave me a glass of water, and thankfully it stayed down. Panic, and this little traumatic episode, well and truly over. There was still time, so we headed back to Eldon Square. As luck would have it, we managed to bump into the staff who helped me out, so said a massive thanks to them.
I feel I have a few thanks to say, and apologies. None of these will ever read this (Jamie S might just read it to correct my spelling), but thanks all the same…
Thanks and apologies to Jamie S. I ruined your Saturday, and you’ve had to put up with me spewing up. Again.
Apologies to the staff at Red’s. You did a wonderful steak, and I took one bit out of it. I am genuinely heartbroken at the waste of such a good meal. It wasn’t your fault. It was mine. I’m such a prick. Sorry. Apologies also to the other patrons that were there, and many, many thanks to the people who helped. I hope I didn’t spoil your day.
Many thanks to the Eldon Square staff for their help. You were all greatly supportive, especially to the guy who walked us to where we needed to be.
Apologies to the people walking down The Great North Road and St. Thomas’ Street who would have saw me spitting. It’s an awful habit. I had good reason, which I hope you’ll now understand.
Apologies to the people in the waiting room with me, especially those within earshot of the toilet, who would have heard me retching my ring up.
I’m genuinely just wracked with guilt and embarrassment about the whole day. This has been a public service announcement. I’ve been Mark Lamarr, and this has been Never Mind the Buzzcocks. *theme music plays*
Bleeergh. I’ve felt lousy over the last few days. Unfortunately, the lovely fishing village of Hartlepool appears to have some type of cold / flu bug doing the rounds. Daddykins had it last week, and spent over 24 hours in bed because of it. I started getting the ol’ throaty tingle on Sunday night. By Wednesday, I’d flung in the 6 hours of lieu time that I’d accrued and headed off to bed myself. The rest of the week saw me throw in the first sick days in three years (I’m discounting foot/eye problems in that).
Saturday came, and Chris was available for a trip somewhere. I explained about this record shop I’d heard about in Darlington, so off to Darlington we went.
Now, seeing as Darlington is a short distance away, it’s somewhere I opften go to as a change of scenery from the normal charity shops. I also knew that the afore-mentioned record shop existed, but every time I’d been there, it was closed. Oddly enough, it wasn’t actually in the location I thought, as it’s recently moved location. Previously, it was in a courtyard, away from the main drag. Now, it was in its own little shop, which, as of July 2018, was an empty sewing shop. Thank you, Streetview.
Anyway, I entered the shop, and started digging through the first pile of 7″ers I came to, tucked away on a shelf. The guy behind the counter saw I was interested, and told me he was getting shot of them, 10p each, or I could have the lot for £20. Whilst the latter offer seemed tempting, getting them from the shop, to Chris’s car, would have been a logistical nightmare, and where would I store them when I got them home? I decided to just go for the 10p option. It was easier.
I can’t have been more than a minute into picking through this vast vinyl variety, and I came across something incredible. Cue, the wibbly flashbacks, etc.
Back in 1975, Mike Oldfield was the new music sensation discovered by Richard Branson. His debit album, and of course, the first single from it, imaginatively titled “Mike Oldfield’s Single” was released, and Virgin, as a music label, was born
Neither that single, or Tubular Bells, are particularly difficult to find. This can’t be said for Mike’s follow-up single, “Don Alfonso”. It’s a charming little ditty about a Spanish bullfighter…. In fact, here’s a YouTube link to it… this will probably die at some point, so if it doesn’t work, comment on this post or something.
The guy who played him in the video is Larry Martyn, who was in Are You Being Served. There. Saved you looking him up.
Despite the brilliant 70s comedy video, the song appeared to have been quickly withdrawn, and failed to chart anywhere. The B side was Mike’s first working of his famous Xmas hit, entitled “In Dulci Jubilo (For Maureen)”. Maureen was his mother who had died a year previous to this being released. A year or two later, Mike would release a remixed version of “In Dulci Jubilo”, reaching No. 4 in the singles chart.
I think this is where the issue occurred, and how this got thrown into the pile of records he was trying to get rid of. Now, I’m only speculating here, but I noticed that a previous owner had written “In Dulci Jubilo” on the cover. As both singles share the same black and white “Twins” label, it’s possible, that this was mistaken for the much more common release. Either way, I can’t say for certain, but what I do know that this was the bargain of the year so far, possibly ever.
Here it is, in all its vinyl glory…
hmmm. It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update. I’ve had a bit of writers’ block. Well, I wrote a couple of things, but they just ended in vitriolic rants about certain people. Thankfully, however, last week was a week off work, so I’ve had time to catch up with things that I love. Record collecting, for example.
The last couple of weeks have certainly been part of a record collecting binge. This is the first time since I was a kid that I remember having such a long, hot summer, and since the weathermen have guaranteed long, hot weekends, I’ve been able to arrange trips to car boot sales with Chris. Last week, it was Seaham, and the week before was Sedgefield.
Now, I’m sure I started typing about the Sedgefield one, but I can’t find any trace of it, so I mught have dreamt it, but basically, I bought lots and lots of CDs and records. £2 entry fee, which wasn’t too bad. I just remember knocking out some crap jokes. A guy selling plants, and I said to Chris “they’re mint, them”. Of course, it was an actual mind plant. Shris laughed. the guy behind the stall said he must have been easily amused. I was just happy that someone else heard the joke. On another stall, I commented that one of the CDs he was selling was Absolute Garbage I had to spell it out to the store owner, who seemed to be slightly offended that I happened to be slagging off one of his CDs. No mate, just a crap pun.
It seemed to close early, as most of the people were packing up to go see England play. By the time I’d got home, they’d scored 5 goals. Turned out to be a great day overall.
Another week passed, and it was time flr the first Middlesbrough record fair. This was the first one for two years, and it was nice to have it back! Unfortunately, the day ended in absolute disaster… hanging around for three hours for a lift, only for my lift’s battery to run flat, and having to get the bus home anyway. I was fuming, and my foot went up like a pudding because of it. Great times.
I did bump into Glen – a fellow blogger and ex-work colleague whom I’ve not mentioned on here for what must be a decade, vut we had a bloody good catchup for about an hour. Preally nice to see him again.
Sunday arrived, and another visit to a car boot sale was arranged. Chris wanted some “tat” for “something” – saying what he wanted, and what for might actually spoil a surprise for someone, so I won’t say what. Of course, there’s absolutely no chance that the person involved will ever read this blog, but you never know. Stranger things have happened.
Anyway, we turned up, nice and early at the car boot. Roughly 9AM. There were a queue of cars waiting to get in and set up, but not many buyers. Had we got there too early? Well. Turns out that if you’re a buyer, it costs you £5 to get in before 11:30. the doors then close between 11:30 and 12:30, meaning if you want to get in early, you pay an inflated price. If you want to pay the cheap price, you’ve got to then queue for an hour, and miss out on potential bargains. Crafty.
Seeing as there were very few stalls set up, and it didn’t look that big anyway, myself and Chris went to Sunderland. Honestly, you’ve heard of ghost towns. You’ve never seen a ghost town until you’ve walked around Sunderland city centre at 9:30. My word. Even the pigeons were hobbling about, looking like they had hangovers.
I couldn’t bear the thought of being in Sunderland for any time longer than I needed to, so I quickly abandoned the idea of hanging around there for two hours, then queuing in the baking sun. Instead, I bit the bullet, paid myself and Chris into the car boot at the inflated price. Damn them. their cunning plan worked.
Unfortunately, there seemed to be more stalls selling absolute garbage than music, which, to me was a little saddening, although I did come home with quite a few CDs, a Zodion SS6 photocell for a streetlight, and a cassette tape for a format I don’t actually own…
Ah yes, the humble DCC. I remember, as a kid, I picked up a copy of Q magazine from 1993, that had a huge article on DCC. I mainly got it because it had a free CD on the front. As I’d only picked up my first CD player the Christmas before, any type of cheap CD to expand my music library was always welcome. Though, as a snotty teenager, the articles went more in-depth than what I liked. I think I’d only stopped getting comics at that point. Still, I was interested to see if this format ever made it into the wild. It didn’t, DCC sank without a trace (at least in your everyday consumer spectrum anyway) and I never ever saw one for sale.
That is, until I bought the one above. the guy had three for sale, one unwrapped. He’d clearly, at the time, bought these by accident, thinking they were just standard cassette tapes. I like to think he’s been carrying these to boot sales every weekend since the 90s and this is the first time he’s sold one. Probably not though.
Fast forward a week. If I haven’t bored you already, the weekend was quiet. I didn’t actually go anywhere. Mainly because I couldn’t. My guts were in absolute tatters for 4 days. No idea what caused it, It was a slightly toned down version or what happened to me when I was about 17. I’ll not go into it, but trust me, if I needed to go to a fancy dress party, I could have swallowed some gravel and went as a shotgun. Not nice at all.
Tuesday was the day when I finally mustered up the courage to leave the house safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be splattering my jeans. I’d made it my resolution to visit every charity shop in Hartlepool. The first stop was The YMCA shop, where I picked up probably my 2nd best purchase of the day… “No Sound Without Silence” by The Script. Not the type of album I’d normally see myself go for, but when I was in Amsterdam a few years ago, it was the only CD that was played on the coach, and I ended up liking it. Not enough to pay any decent money for, but for 50p, I couldn’t go wrong. It also has the theme to “Mrs Brown’s Boys Da Movie” on it… Terible film, great theme. Sorry.
I travelled from one end of the town to the other. While I was waiting for the bus, I heard a young chav lass shout “Fuck off” to her child. The child was below full speaking age, and was happily gibbering away to his mother Her response… “Oh, yeah, yeah. I had one of those, but the wheels fell off”. I had to laugh.
Towards the end of the day, I headed to the town. In one of the charity shops that shall remain nameless. A lad was looking at some CDs, went to the counter with 3 CDs, but the manager saw he was holding 4 just a minute earlier. Unknown to her, he’d put one back, but it was too late. She’d asked to check in the bag he was carrying. Well. You should have heard it. Not from him, but his mother, who was elsewhere in the store.
“Are you the manager? What’s your head office number? I’ll be reporting this! Do you know how much I spend in here? You didn’t apologise for looking in there”
There were so many things wrong with her argument. Now I know a little about customer services, after being in a role like this, but at the end of a telephone.
Point number 1. You can report staff all you want to a head office. If they’re double checking to make sure that stock hasn’t been stolen, then they’re always going to side with the member of staff. That’s your job. Point number 2. Shops are shops. If you’re offended by someone doing their job, then fuck off. Don’t come back. Don’t buy products from them ever again. If you dropped down dead tomorrow, the charity won’t fold. They won’t be looking out for you, as they stand underneath a big “TO LET” sign with a key in the shutters. No, ther people will buy stuff.
I did feel sorry for the manager behind the counter. I just rolled my eyes, as the complaints echoed out of the store and down the street. It’s probably water off a ducks’ back, but still.
Sorry, I went off on more of a ran than I intended there. I just hate rude people. Anyway you’ll notice that the Script CD was only the 2nd best purchase of the day. I’m sure you’re dying to know the best….
A keyboard. Yes, one of those things that you type into. One of the stores had a plethora of keyboards dumped under the CDs. Now, these were dusty old things. It was clear to see that there was a nice Dell keyboard underneath all of the tat. It looked practically brand new, but with the dust, and a very small amount of key wear.
Now, some places state that keyboards have more bacteria on them than toilet seats. I’ve not looked into that statement in any great detail, but it’s always had me a little wary over 2nd hand keyboards, but at £1.75, this was too good to miss. the knife didn’t come with it, by the way, it was just a make-shift key puller.
It had occurred to me, while approacting the wrought iron gates and gravel driveway or Mercuryvapour Towers, that this keyboard was probably hiding something. Why was it practically unused? Off came the keys, aaaaand….
Oh holy Christ! What the fuck is that? My god, I’d just gotten over a stomach infection, it looked very much like I was on course for another one. I have no idea what this stuff was. These Dell keyboards have drain holes, so thankfully, whatever it was only got caught under the F keys. Out came the Cillit Bang. The smell coming from the muck was ungodly. At a guess, from the colour and the smell, I’d have to say it was vomit, but I’ll never know. After an hour of scrubbing / spraying / wiping down with antibacterial stuff., it came up looking absolutely brilliant, and I can confirm that it actually fully works, because I’ve been typing on it for the entirety of this post!
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…
Ahhh, radio rallies. A subject I’ve touched on briefly, yet can’t have touched on them enough, as everyone l mention them to, seems to look at me with some type of confusion etched on their faces. So, let’s start from the beginning.
I’ve mentioned before, Daddykins is a radio ham. No, that’s not some type of wireless pig, it’s a name given to someone who has an interest in amateur radio. For as long as I can remember, he’s been taking me to radio rallies, and I always enjoy them. There are basically huge places, filled with lots of stalls, selling radio, and sometimes computer goodies. I remember getting a load of ZX Spectrum tapes from one, when I was about 10, most of which got used as blank tapes to store other games on, as they weren’t very good..
Fast forward through the years, and, until recently, visits to radio rallies were few and far between, yet I always looked forward to them, sometimes planning them months in advance.
A few years ago, Daddykins and myself began attending the yearly BARAC rally in Spennymoor, a small town a few miles west of the lovely fishing village of Hartlepool. This was an annual event, usually talking place in the first week of December. We both enjoyed it. Daddykins would look for the radio stuff, and I’d spend my time rummaging through boxes of loose cables and circuit boards for something that looked vaguely interesting. Usually, it’d be a drive of some variety, whether it be CD, flash, or even floppy.
Years went by, and we have began to attend these a lot more regularly, and further afield. There was Newark last year, this year so far, we’ve been to Ripon, and today, Blackpool. Now, this held a bit more of an interest for me, as it was going to take place in the “Norbreck Castle” hotel…
Well, OK, the ” RBRECK C STLE HOTEL”. You probably won’t remember that I stayed here many years ago. I recall the out-of-date biscuits next to the kettle. You, however, may recall, however, that I did a video about a hairdryer, filmed in that very hotel many years ago…
Haaaa. fun times.
Anyway, back to the radio rally. Chris came along with us. He was also making the same return trip (he’s the one holding the camera in the above video), and we were both interested to see just how much renovation had happened to the place since we’d both checked out. The answer: hardly any. It still looked almost exactly the same. It was like travelling back in time 7 years. Anyway, we were not here to ridicule the decor, we were here to have a look at what vintage tat I could walk away with.
It was being held in the big exhibition centre they have there. This was the place where they held the “entertainment” when we were there, and could quite comfortably hold a few thousand people…
The ceiling lights had changed from mercury to LED over the years, however. Ahem.
It wasn’t long until I started rummaging through boxes. The sight of “Everything £1” caught my eye, as you’d expect it would. I started rummaging, and pulled out a little, nondescript beige box, with what looked like either a taser, or a dictaphone / recording device thing. It was £1, so it was either going to be broken, or something missing from it, such as the battery, but for less than the price of a bottle of coke (damn you sugar tax!), I wasn’t going to pass it up. I also pulled out an absolutely massive old external CD/DVD drive. This thing was such a beast that it took standard size DVD drives, and not the shitty little laptop drives. Also, at £1, I decided that the power supply alone would be worth that, even if the drive was completely shagged.
Chris almost had a coronary at the sight of these… and at 50p each, he picked both of them up…
It was around that time, that I mearly creamed by boxers at the sight of an old, yellowed Chicony keyboard, with some of the nicest switches I’d used for a long time. Unfortunately, it had the old style 5-pin AT connector, no windows keys, and the asking price was £40. Ever so clightly out of my price range, but seeing as I think this poor little keyboard is reaching the end of its life (or at least be relegated to the keyboard I use at work, or something), I’d have liked that to be my replacement. Never mind.
Just along from that, was something made me go weak at the knees, was the sight of a laserdisc player, in perfect nick, with some discs to go along with it. I didn’t even query the price of it, as I simply didn’t have the space for one, but it was the first time I saw one “in the wild”, as it were.
A few other bits and bobs were acquired (20 slimline CD cases for £1 for example), and it was over all too soon. Daddykins had gone back to the car, and we’d completed enough laps of the place to make Mo Farah look dizzy (He only does road races now, you know – Ed). Shut up.
I had a peer into my little beige box, and upon further investigation, it was indeed a dictaphone type thing. It looked in absolutely perfect nick. It was 8Gb too, and to my amazement, it powered on and recorded!
Back in the box it went, for further examination when I got home. The way back was uneventful, except I managed to get a folder of a “Trainer tree”… around here they hang trainers from telephone wires. Up on t’moors, they grow them on trees…
Looks like it’s blossoming for the spring!
So, anyway, back home, and I examined this little recorder a little more. Here’s a photo of the device itself.
Everything appears to be in the box, except for the Micro USB cable, of which I have dozens, so absolutely no loss there. The headphones were still sealed, but they look cheap as hell.. I’d never heard of the make (Evistr?), and I’d expected it to be an Amazon / Won Hung Lo Special, and indeed it is, but it’s on there for £33ish. Not bad.
So, curiosity got the better of me, and I had to see if it had been used in the past. there were no files on it, except for the one I’d recorded above, so I opened the device in a hex editor. All of the sectors appear to have been used, so that would suggest there was something on there. A quick run through an undelete utility, and voila!
I’ve had a listen, and this definitely did belong to someone else in the past. It has someone singing for a couple of the files, and also two 3-hour long recordings of music, probably taken from a radio at the other side of the room, or something. All of these sound like they’re possibly Chinese.
Just a look at the waveform shows this probably isn’t a great device for making sonically accurate recordings…
I’m assuming these were taken with the built-in microphone. It has an external socket for a microphone too, so you never know, that might be better… judging by the quality of the headphones, I suspect not, but it’s worth a look.
Overall, a successful day out
Well, seeing as I’ve received very little / no feedback on Day 1, I can see that you’re all really enjoying reading these. Never mind, I intend to keep going, with the help of more photographs and Google Maps.
Anyway, I awoke on the 2nd day. This was to be the main day we were there, and the only full day. We had intended to visit Brick Lane market at one point during the trip. Unfortunately, due to it only being open at the weekend, it was closed, so that was off the radar. There was, however, Borough Market just a short tube ride away, somewhere near London Bridge. We got there, and it was rather “foody”.
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a market that’s got a dedicated “Turnips” section. Admittedly, I did spend rather a long time debating whether I should buy a small tub of Scorpion Chilli powder, but seeing as there was no prices on anything, I decided against it. I’m one of those people who’ll take something to a counter, ask how much it is, and then begrudgingly buy it even if it’s more than what I expected to pay.
It’s probably still there on the shelf now. On the plus side, I didn’t have to carry it around all day.
Accomplice bought a “weird” bacon sandwich, and while I was tempted to buy a sausage sandwich, I didn’t…. my word, the excitement I get up to, eh? No wonder nobody is reading this bloody thing.
We walked around the nearby area, and happened to stumble upon one of the replicas of “The Golden Hinde”.
It was a short walk to London Bridge tube station, so we headed off in its general direction. As you pass under London Bridge, there’s a tannoy that plays a creepy music-box rendition of “London Bridge Is Falling Down”. That’s rather worrisome, especially as you’re going under it as the time. No matter though, as I’m sure it’s built with far more sturdy materials than when that particular tune was written. It’s an old folk tune anyway, so it was probably written about polio anyway.
One of the sights I wanted to see while I was in London was the Olympic Park, in Stratford. It sort-of fitted with the other things we were going to see that day anyway (or so we thought), so we headed off in that general direction.
It seemed we were going out of the more popular area of London, as the tube carriage emptied further and further we went along the line. This had me feeling already that there wasn’t going to be too much there.
Well. After getting out of the tube station, you’re greeted with a shopping centre. Nothing much wrong with that, but it just feels a bit like “You’ve come all this way to see something. Great! Now spend some money!” And, spend I did! I bought myself a sausage roll from Greggs (yes, they have them down there too) and a bottle of wahter. And the sausage roll was *terrible*.
It was a short walk to the Olympic park from the shopping centre. Well, it would have been had we gone the right way, but instead we ended up walking around the not-very-decorative loading bays for the shopping centre. Oops.
Onto the stadium itself. The words “underwhelming” spring to mind. Maybe it was because they changed the shape of it since it was used for the Olympic Games, but I was expecting something much grander.
The athletics championships had just finished a couple of days prior to us going, and there were still traces of the signage left standing. Unfortunately, as the stadium had begun the transformation from an athletics track into a football stadium (which has to be done manually, and takes 15 days), nost of it was fenced off. There were still signs up for the athletics though, including a sighting of my new second-favourite fictional hedgehog, “Hero”…
After that, we were “Gone, Gone, Gone!” Next stop would be Abbey Road. It was a mere couple of stops on the DLR…. or WAS it?
Judging by the presence of that sentence, you’d be right in thinking it isn’t. At least, not the famous one, anyway.
We got off at the appropriate DLR station named “Abbey Road”, and made our way to the bridge that leads out on the road, only to be presented with a sign filled with really crap Beatles puns, something along the lines of “Are you looking for the Beatles’ Abbey Road and are in need of a little Help!? Well, you’ll need to get a Ticket To Ride to “another station”.
Accomplice had pretty much given up on the idea of seeing it. I clearly hadn’t. Therefore, we travelled the 34 minutes on the tube, followed by about another 10 minute walk, just to see a zebra crossing. And it’s not even the original zebra crossing, which was a little further up the road. But nothing stands in the way of a good photo opportunity.
OK, it’s entirely the wrong angle, but I wasn’t going to get Accomplice to stand in the middle of road and hold up traffic. I’d have known what the response would have been.
So, the whole premise of going here and seeing the non-touristy sights were going really well. There was one place I wanted to go that even the hardened tourist wouldn’t have thought of.
Part of my job involves entering data about London streets from emails into a database. It’s all very old fashioned, and something that could be automated very easily, but because of this, I became aware of a street called Chandos Place, upon which stands a Nandos. Therefore, we headed there andhad Nandos in Chandos. I wonder how many other people have done the following just for that very reason. Yeah, probably nobody.
As we were still in an “upmarket” part of London (Covent Garden, to be exact), it seemed only right to go and do something even more upmarket. It was time to take my very first trip to Harrods. After all, I’m sure I’d fit in, with my purple Slazenger polo shirt and Sports Direct walking boots. I’m sure it was the type of clientele the shop regularly does business with. Mind you, nobody in their right frame of mind actually buys anything from there. I mean, Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£1.80 for a bottle of coke? Come on, I’m sure there was a Tesco Express around the corner.
I bet you didn’t know that the carrier bags for Harrods used to be made in Hartlepool? I don’t know if they’re still are, but I always remember going to infants school with my PE kit in a Harrods carrier bag. My nanna worked for the company that made them. Obviously, I didn’t get the significance at the time, but I’m sure it’d raise a few smiles these days, wandering around this lovely little fishing village with a Harrods bag.
I was considering buying a music system, but even if I put together all of the money I have ever earned from all of my jobs, and not spent anything else ever, I’d probably still not come close on buying this…
It was at this point my Nandos started moving, and I thought it’d be a nice little thing to say I’ve had a cack in Harrods. If you’re a bloke, don’t bother. There’s bogs on every floor for women, and one bog in the entire place for blokes, and there was a queue a mile long. There’s one thing I absolutely detest in life, and that’s following someone into a cubicle It’s happened too often where I’ve dropped an absolute panblocker, and someone’s went in straight after me. One day, I know the tables are gonna turn, but not this time. I kept hold of it until we found somewhere else.
And that somewhere else was apparently “the only pub on Sloane Street”, known as The Gloucester. Finding the bogs was like playing something in The Crystal Maze (which has returned to our TV screens! Hurrah!) – go up some stairs, through the doors, disable the laser, though some other doors, etc. While we were in there, I also had a pint of “Camden Pale Ale”, which was a nice smooth pint. I have blocked the price of this from my mind. Accomplice would watch out of the window as the shiny and expensive cars would go by, and comment on each of them. I would simply nod politely and pretend I knew what was being said. I didn’t have a clue. When it comes to cars, you might as well speak Swahili to me.
We downed the pints and emerged once more into the setting sun. Apparently, we walked up Knightsbridge, Kensington Road, then onto Exhibition Road. Lots of large colleges around there. Walking around there made me feel like I was back in Berlin or Vienna. It certainly didn’t feel like London.
Another quick ride on the tube took us to Victoria. A station I believe I last frequented in 2003. We walked down Victoria Street. Another street lined with modern buildings and shops, and of course, some not-so-new buildings. It was, at this point, it became clear that all of my hopes of doing the non-touristy stuff came to an abrupt halt, as unbeknownst to me, the road led to the Houses of Parliament, and of course, Elizabeth Tower, a.k.a. Big Ben.
It was a mere five days before the big bell would stop sounding for four years, so I suppose it was nice to be one of the last to hear it in action one last time.
We made our way across Westminster Bridge, and headed down the river towards London Bridge, taking in the sights, stopping off for the odd sit-down along the way…
I’d avoided any type of curry, so I don’t know how that possibly could have happened.
As we were walking, something became apparent. My feet weren’t holding up as well as I thought they were going to. I’d pretty much avoided the problems with my left foot (more on that later, probably in the next part), but instead I was having problems with my right foot…
And, right on cue, just as we’d passed the ITV studios (home to none other than ITV’s “This Morning”, as you can clearly see), I felt a massive blister go. Oh, this didn’t feel like it was going to be good.
I struggled on, desperate for a sit down somewhere, but we kept on, and eventually made it back to London Bridge. It was about 9PM at the point, but that music-box thing I mentioned earlier was STILL playing. Creepy.
It was still relatively early, and we’d made plans to go somewhere and catch something to eat, but my feet decided not to play ball, so we headed back, calling in at McDonalds on the way, as it was just a short journey from the hotel. My word, if you know Hartlepool, you’ll know you always get your flurry of harmless chavs hanging around. It’s warm, it’s dry and it has free Wi-Fi. What’s not for chavs to love? Well, in London, it’s like that, but the chavs seem a little more… sinister, like if you look at them the wrong way, they’d stab you. I felt like the guy sat next to me was going to jump me, or something. Then a guy sat next to me, carrying a Primark bag, having a full-on conversation to himself.
“Right, that’s it, we’re going”…
We arrived back at the hotel at approximately 9:30. I nipped downstairs to the hotel bar to see what it was like. Not very good to be fair. One lager of dubious origin on draught, and a price tag around the Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£4.50 mark. I managed to have one before they ran out. I then had a 330ml bottle of Stella and paid about the same. If I’d have thought, I could have nipped to the pub across the road. Though if I thought @the Maccy D’s was rough, I dread to think how rough that pub might have been, especially on my own and with a Northern accent. Yeah, best to stay in the safety of the hotel I reckon.
As I was unwilling to mortage Mercury Towers for another small beverage, I headed back to the room in preparation for the 3rd and final day in the Capital…