It’s here! I have it!

As promised, I said I’d update when I had the CD, and yes, it’s finally here! At 1:30PM on 14th November, the jolly postperson dropped a little red Jiffy bag through the Mercuryvapour Towers portcullis. It contained my most sought after disc, and I can finally close this 23 year quest once and for all.

So… er, that’s it for that. No idea what I’m going to blog about now. I will now return you back to months of complete silence. Probably.

The ‘unknown song’ journey is almost over

As I’m sure that everyone I’ve spoken to over the last three months or so are aware, I know exactly what the ‘unknown song’ is I’m sure you can scroll down/up a couple of posts if you’re really completely unaware. Anyway, finding out what is it, and owning a physical copy are two different things, especially when it comes to library music. As luck would have it, a copy turned up on ebay, with those three magic words… ‘Buy it Now’, I SHOULD soon be the proud owner of the CD for a penny short of £7. It’s considerably cheaper than getting it shipped over from Croatia, or Italy, which is where, at the time of typing, the only two copies exist on Discogs.

Yes, I’m 100% sure that the CD will appear cheaper on ebay at some point. No need to point it out. I’m just happy that the only copy I’ve seen so far looks like this, and it belongs to me…

Yes, I’m fully aware that posting this is entirely tempting fate, and the postal service is going to swallow it up, never to be seen again. I, for one, wouldn’t be surprised in the least. The things that have gone wrong for me in the last few months since the dscovery of ‘The Unknown Song’, are, quite literally, staggering. It’s like that moment, on 5th September, of me discovering that song was some type of ‘pinnacle’ in my life, and since that moment, some cosmic being turned my dial all the day to 0. Of course, that’s bullshit, and everything has of course just been a massive coincidence, and all of this shit would have happened if I’d have held up my phone and Shazamed the unknown song one more time, but still.

Obviously, I don’t really talk about life stuff on here anymore, but if I did, there’d be several pages of stuff. Certainly enough to bore you all senseless with. Anyway. This took a much darker turn than that I was intending, so, the next post will be when the CD arrives!

The ‘unknown song’ has been identified!

For those of you who’ve been following this blog and/or my life in general, you know I’ve been after a certain piece of music for nigh on 25 years. It was used in a local radio phone-in show called “Tom’s Talk-in”, hosted by Tom Davies. After adverts and various other breaks in the show, he would use several pieces of music, edited down to become short instrumentals, aka music ‘beds’.

About 20 clips were used at the time, including a remix of Gabrielle’s “Dreams” which you could only find on the CD single, and “Downtown” by One 2 Many. Over the course of the show, I pretty much found out what all of the songs he used were, but one particular clip remained elusive.

Going through some old tapes many years ago, I found a clip of it. I asked if anyone knew it. A 16 second clip is all I had to go by.

Many people have said they’d heard it, but all drew a blank. I even asked on Usenet back in the day, and while there were plenty of suggestions, not one proved helpful.

I rang the show and asked Tom himself. I think he cut me off. For some reason, he didn’t like people asking about his music beds, as if they were a big secret. I even asked my mate Chris to ring in and ask, to see if he could catch Tom in a better mood. Nope. His response essentially was “No you can’t buy it. It was written for the show, and it doesn’t have a name”. I began to think it really was written for the show. Maybe Richard Kell, his sound engineer, had knocked it up in his spare time?

Eventually, Tom’s Talk-in disappeared off the airwaves, and I thought the song was gone forever. At some point, I happened to catch a few seconds of the kids’ telly programme ‘Grange Hill’, and I could have sworn I heard it on a radio during a scene, with female vocals.

That, to me, meant it had to be a proper, commercially released song. Surely someone would be able to identify it? Turns out my assumption was entirely wrong, but more on that later.

It also proved that Tom may have lied about it being especially written for the show. Just hearing this meant that I’d have this obsession for nigh-on 25 years.

Many posts on here about it proved to be no help. Now, the days before Shazam was a phone app, it used to be a premium rate line. You call the number, hole the phone up to the music, and it sent you a text. Well, this was my first, of many also positives from there. Unfortunately, it’s not perfect, and would often throw up a random song that might have a similar beat. Usually, these have a small amount of identifications, (shazams) normally in single or double figures, but I’d humour it by checking. “It’s Good but it’s not the one”, as Roy Walker would say.

Every so often, I’d ask on Twitter (I refuse to call it X) or Facebook, and the same story as before. Someone will have heard it, but no idea what it was. Back to square one. Every time I played it, I’d give it a few cycles through Shazam.

I even uploaded it a couple of times to the website “WatZatSong”. A community ran website, where you upload a song, and other members help you identify it. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. With every day that passed, I’d believe more and more that it really was just written for the show, and maybe my identification on Grange Hill was incorrect.

Tom’s Talk-in returned to the airwaves a couple more times. Unfortunately, while he did revive a few music beds from back in the day, this one was lost to time. Tom Davies, the presenter, was found in possession of indecent images, and died just a few days before his sentencing

And that, the only glimmer of hope, disappeared. Tom was dead, and so was my chance of ever finding this track.

Every so often, I’d revisit it. Run a shazam, search blankly for the result, only to find out it was incorrect. I was used to this by now.

A day or two ago, I got a notification on “WatZatSong”. Somebody had started following my post. They didn’t help identify it, but seeing as I was on the page, I played the track, and ran Shazam on it one more time.

Up came another track. This one only had 15 shazams. This is never a good sign, as mentioned previously. It was nearing bedtime, so once again, I’d humour it, especially as it appeared on a Bruton library CD. These are notoriously difficult to find clips online. Eventually, I tracked it down on the Universal Music website.

I clicked play. My heart didn’t so much skip a beat, as pop out of my chest and go sliding along the keyboard. THERE IT WAS. It even had the female vocals on it. Oh my god. I’ve never felt an adrenalin rush like it. I reached for my phone and texted Chris.

I just had to tell someone, and he’d been with me since the very start.

You’ll be unsurprised to hear that he didn’t know what the hell I was on about, until I’d calmed down and explained everything in a bit more detail.

So, dear reader, you’ve made it through several paragraphs of crap that means nothing to anyone but me. I’m guessing you’re dying to hear it in its entirety? Well, here you go.

It’s entitled “Where Has It Gone 2” by Phil Nicholas.

Here it is, the proper version. Thanks Glen.

This link works at the time of typing, but it’s bound to disappear in a year or two… So no doubt you’ll be asking yourself, “Where Has It Gone?”….

Ahem. Sorry about that.

And that’s it. I’ve taken a few things from this. Firstly, I led everyone on a bit of a wild goose chase, thinking it was commercially released. It wasn’t. Library CDs are only ever released to production companies, often in bulk.

Of course, it made perfect sense that a low-budget children’s TV programme such as Grange Hill would use library music for their “radio music” as it’s considerably cheaper than real, commercially released songs.

As for Tom’s Talk-in, it seems very out of place for a piece of library music to be used. Maybe Richard or Tom heard it, liked it and used it? I will never know.

Here ends a portion of my life that has gone on for longer than most of the people I work with have been alive. Despite what happened in his later years, I’ll always remember Tom as the grumpy, sarcastic phone in host with a great taste in music.

This was the last “unknown” song. I will never spend almost 30 years looking for a piece of music again.

EDIT: Many thanks to Glen for posting a link to the correct version on Roblox. I don’t even know what a Roblox is!

EDIT 2: Glen also provided a link to the artist’s Linkedin page that happens to have an email on there. I’ve dropped him an email , and hopefully he’ll get back to me, mainly just to say thanks.

Eurosong Fever 2023!

Oh yes. It’s that time of year again. It’s Eurovision 2023! Joimn me, as I go through the runners and riders, criticise their songs, and generally make fun of the entire thing. It’s going to be great! Now, this is going to be in realtime, so please refresh this page (F5) to get the latest version.

Right, so it’s started now. And it all starts off with a “special” version of last years’ Ukraine entry. Some video inserts, and now they’re ‘performing’ it live at the venue. I wonder how long it’s going to go on for, because so far it’s felt like 2 hours, and we’ve not even started yet. Oh, there’s a flag parade. I think this might be the best time for me to go and get some beer.

Austria: Teya & Salena – Who The Hell Is Edgar?

Oh god, yeah, this one is going to do well. It was in the semi-finals and everyone loved it. Po po po po pooooo. I remember quite liking it. I think it’ll do well because it’s pretty damn catchy. Will it win? Never more. Not sure what that whole 0.003 bit was about.

Portugal: Mimicat – Ai Coração.

No song has won from position number two. this one starts off like “I Will Survive”. I remember this one sort-of having a Tetris vibe to it. I didn’t think it’d get through to the final, but it did, despite some of the much better numbers such as Ireland going home. That was a surprise. Below is the running order, which I’m gojng to fill in as it goes, naturally. It’s just making things easier for me. Doing this now, because this song is entirely forgettable, and I don’t think it’s going to get anywhere….

Switzerland: Remo Forrer – Watergun

I really dislike this one. Something about not wanting to be a soldier, and instead, playing with water guns. Slooooooow. Not a fan. It’s going to do well, because it’s about war.

Poland: Blanka – Solo

Apparently, it’s catchy. Let’s hope so. It’s like Ace of Base. In a way. It’s OK. Infinitely better than the last trash. It’s going to bug me though, because there’s a bit that sounds like another song and I can’t think what. It’ll come to me at some point tonight. Yeah, that one’s alright. It’s grown on me since I heard it in the semi-final Hope it does well. My fave of the night so far.

Serbia: Luke Black – Samo Mi Se Spava

I didn’t like this one, but the crowd seemed to love it. Not catchy at all. It’s one of those songs that wants to be something that it isn’t. Absolutely no memorable quality, except maybe that “Hello” but. and that’s literally it.

France: La Zarra – Évidemment

Ahh, now, one of the first that I haven’t heard before properly. Oh, god, can it get any slower? Ah, there we go. It’s licked in quite a lot. That first 30 seonds was dire. It’s not bad. No idea what she’s singing about, because it’s entirely in French. It’s probably about double glazing or something. Yeah, there’s definitely been worse. Not catchy, but the crowd are loving it.

Now there’s a recap of some of the interval acts from the sem-finals. Most of which I fast forwareded at the time, so I have absolutely no idea. Thankfully, I haven’t missed much. Apart from Dustin The turkey. Who remembers him?

Cyprus: Andrew Lambrou – Break A Broken Heart

Best intro so far. Downhill after three seconds though. Ohhh, it’s one of those that’s going to go either way. It’s either going to be great and actually kick off, or it’s just going to sit around and do nothing for three minutes. Yeah, this one’s OK. Not going to queue and get the CD for it, but it’s not going to make me run somewhere and kick the radio off the wall. Have a feeling it’ll do well.

Spain: Blanca Paloma – Eaea

Another one of the “Big Five” that didn’t have to go through the semi-final stage, so I have no idea what this one sounds like. I’ve heard rumours that it’s supposed to be good, though.

Well, this one wasn’t worth waiting for. Sounds like they’re playing the backing track to the wrong songs. Sounds like she’s in pain, poor lass. this isn’t going to do amazing.

Sweden: Loreen – Tattoo

I remember her microphone sounded weird in the semi-finals. She was wearing one of those jaw mics, and it didn’t sound good at all. Well, it still sounded the name, so maybe it’s meant to be like that? The song itself isn’t bad. Apparently, it’s been streamed 55,000,000 times. It’s written by one of the members of Amaranthe, so that might have had something to do with the reason why it’s so popular. It’s going to do well.

Albania: Albina & Familja Kelmendi – Duje

You’re only allowed 6 memembers on stage, and they’re all the same family. It’s… Well, I’d nortmally say it’s different, but there;’s no such thing as that in Eurovision. In fact, Spain also started with that screaming stuff. Dance moves with hankies. Yup. That’s Eurovision for you. Forgettable. When the song finishes, it will never sweep through my brain again. Definitely a bottom halfer.

Italy: Marco Mengoni – Due Vite

He’s a big star in Italy, apparently. Again, the first time I’ve heard this one, and, yeah. It’s alright, if a little slow. It’s in Italian, so I have no idea what he’s on about. Prima la musica? I love music? Does that mean I can speak Italian now? Scorchio! It’ll probably do well.

Estonia: Alika – Bridges

Oh yes. I think Tom showed me this one. It’s a piano that played itself. I tried to look for the floppy drive on it, but couldn’t see it. I remember seeing one of those automatic pianos with a floppy drive on it. No sign of it though. Where the maker’s mark shiould be, it says “Estonia”. Nice touch. I quite like this one, in a “It’s better than the majority” vibe. Yes, I do actually like this one. Hope it does well.

Finland: Käärijä – Cha Cha Cha

Apparently, the dancers to a ‘human caterpillar’ dance move. Interesting I’m sure. Well, this is all about the stage performance. Oh, wait. Not quite the human caterpillar I thought he was referring to. The crowd absolutely love this one, and I have to admit, it’s catchy. It’s be very surprised if this wasn’t top 3. it’s 100% Eurovision

Czechia: Vesna – My Sister’s Crown

‘We’re not Your Dolls’, apparently. Oh, go away. I like the little flute sample in the background. I’m not sure what the song is about. Porbabbly something about GURL POWER. I think I’d like an instrumental version of this. Impressive ponytails though, if they’re real. I like the music, not the song.

Australia: Voyager – Promise

Yeah, this one’s actually quite good. Rocky, synthy vibe. this one’s great. I think Jamie S would actually like this one. I’d probably say this one’s my favourite of the nights. It’s the one I’ve not had to think about liking. If you’ve ever heard ‘Beast In Black’, it reminds me of them in a way. Synthy rock. this is right up my flagpole. I’d love to see this do very well.

Belgium: Gustaph – Because Of You

Well, the crowd like it, and it’s pretty upbeat. this is your typical Eurovision fodder. If you typed “Write me a Eurovision Entry” into ChatGPT, this is the type of stuff it’d come up with. I can’t help but think it’s completely, and utterly forgettable in every way, shape and form., but no, I do remember this one from the semi-finals, so that’s got to mean something.

Armenia: Brunette – Future Lover

I didn’t like this one at all in the semi-finals. It just seems tuneless, especially compared to the previous song. Admittedly, I like it a little more than I did in the semi-finals, but I doin’t think it’s going to do well. That’ll probably mean it’ll win, then.

Moldova: Pasha Parfeni – Soarele şi Luna

This is just weird. There’s a dwarf, named Sergio, playing a Moldovan flute or something (a Caval, apparently). 15/10 for the stange perfornace…. 8 out of 10 for the song. I’d like this to do well because it’s had the best staging of the night so far.

Ukraine: TVORCHI – Heart of Steel

Apparently, their name means “Creative” in Ukranian. Every day’s a school day. again, another one I haven’t heard. this year’s slightly different, because I watched the semi-final for the first time. I’ve never done that before, so some of the songs I’ve heard, but there are six that I haven’t. Well, I can quite honestly say, they’re not winning any votes this year.

Norway: Alessandra – Queen of Kings

This was the first one I heard in the semi-finals and I really, really liked it. Really catchy tune, and again, another Eurovision staple. Reminds me very much of “Wolves of the Sea” from a few years ago. It sounds like a ‘GURL POWERZ’ type song, but it’s catchy enough for me to still like it.

For the record… Wolves of the Sea was the Latvian entry at the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 in Belgrade performed by the group Pirates of the Sea. It qualified from the second semifinal in 6th place. In the final, it was performed 10th following Belarus and preceding Croatia. At the close of voting, it finished in 12th place with 83 points.

Germany: Lord of the Lost – Blood & Glitter

Ohhhh, this one’s supposed to be the winner. I haven’t heard it, but just by the looks of them, it looks like it should be right up my strasse. Hahaha. Yes, this is amazing. Over-the-top costumes, metal with a buried piano. It’s like Lordi are back. There’s a screamy bit too. If I needed a reason to run out and buy the soundstrack, it’s this, Norway, and Australia. Graham Norton hated it. Brilliant!

Lithuania: Monika Linkytė – Stay

Oh yes. I’m sure Tom at work kicked off about this one because she appeared back in 2015 with essentially the same song. I just nodded and agreed. I was just excited that I had someone to talk about Eurovision with, even if it was for a brielf 10 minutes. Yes, I like this one, even if it does allegedly sound like a previous entry. Anthemic? Is that the right word? Don’t know. It does start off a bit slow, but that chorus sticks with you.

Israel: Noa Kirel – Unicorn

I heard something about this one being popular. Apparently she’s really big in Isreal. The song is not amazing. I think this one is all about the dancing Phew. Not sure that’d come across well on the CD though. Not quite sure what the power of a unicorn is… Fart rainbows? Admittedly, I don’t think I blinked during the entire time of that dance.

Slovenia: Joker Out – Carpe Diem

very generic. the crowd were clapping away to it, which is usually a good sign that it’ll do well. It’s on the acceptable side of generic though. Yeah, go on then, I quite like it. there, I said it. The beer must be taking effect. Singer looks like him out of China Crisis.

Croatia: Let 3 – Mama ŠČ!

Oh, they’re doing a video of Whitby in the build-up. Apparently, these are going to be Croatia’s version of Monty Python. And if they win, they’re going to perform their reprise completely naked. There’s not going to be any chance of that happens. If they win, I’ll run over to Liverpool in the break, get up and join them completely naked. This is dire. I can hear the word ‘syncophant’. Or something like that, and that’s all I can understand. the crowd loved it? No accountinfg for taste.

United Kingdom: Mae Muller – I Wrote A Song

the last song of the night. Another one I haven’t heard. Well, not fully. As tradition, I try to avoid our songs until this very moment. Well, it’s catchy, I’ll give it that. Whether it’s enough to save it from the middle / bottom half of the table, I don’t think so. I wonder what they do with all of these custom LED panels when the show’s finished. It’s a shame that it’s all over for another year. It’s a shame that my original plans for the night fell through, but at least I’ve got to spend it with both of my readers. I’ll be back on when the otes start. I’m not going anywhere.

After the jury votes, we’re…. not doing well, but Germany are doing worse. I’m very surprised. I liked that song.

And the next update will be the final score…. apart from this one… It’s cormed we’ve finished 2nd last underneath Germany. Oh well.

And here’s your final score.

I enjoyed every second of that. Already looking forward to next year. And that concludes this blog post. Same time next year?

Day 3… Ta-Ta Treacletown

So, as mentioned in the last ramble, I managed to get a decent night’s sleep in the hotel, and finally surfaced about 9. We had already had a recommendation for food. I didn’t mention in the previous days’ blog, that Chris had stopped off at a chothes shop to pick up a cap, as he didn’t want to get any of his dozen hairs wet. We got chatting to the shop owners who had instantly picked up on our accents. I explained about our pin-on-a-map charity shop excursions, and he gave us a recommendation of an old cinema that had been converted into a large eatery place with lots of individual stalls to buy food from.

We went on the search for it, and also stumbled on an untapped vein of 5 or 6 independent charity shops. That was an unexpected bonus.

Thankfully, I did pick up a few CDs this time. I don’t think there was anything amazing in them, but I’ve yet to listen to them at the time of typing.

We found the eatery which called itself “Picturedrome”, and it was indeed large, and plenty of places to eat… It did seem a bit “hipsterish”, with plenty of laptops and beards flying about. It wasn’t exactly cheap either. Ihad a chuckle at a noodle bar called “Send Noods”.


So, it was time for the final hurrah. Naturally, one last trek around any charity shops I might have missed. My first concern was… had they restocked the Age UK I’d visited previously?

Yes. Yes, they had. the shelves were full. Of course, my next question was, could I still get the CDs for 50p? I was feeling confident. I was definitely going to get away with it two days in a row. I took my 11 CDs to the counter.

“That’ll be £11 please”. Gosh darn it. Never mind. It’s all for charidee, innit? As the weather was still nice, and we still had a little bit of time before we could set off, we had a walk around the surrounding area. I found a mural dedicated to those 108 steps, stuck to the side of a bridge.

It’s also the first time I can recall where I’ve walked over a bridge, but also been under a bridge at the same time…

Fascinating stuff. I also don’t know what it is with me seeing faces in things… first there was “Coke Bloke”, secondly, there was this one…

I’m not quite sure which one amuses me more. I feel that second one might be a little more intentional though.

And, doing things slightly out of order, because I can, and there was no other place for it, I also photographed these classy old fluorescent streetlights in the grounds of Macclesfield sorting office…


So, that was it for good old Macc. It’s a nice place. Plenty going for it. The next stop was Stockport. Again, this was more of a pin-in-the-map type thing. It was on the way home, and I have no recollection of where the idea came from. We probably passed it on the way down. I’d like to call this place ‘varied’. It’s bigger than I imagined it to be. There were a few charity shops we’d passed on the way down. I expected that to be it, but it turned out we were a good few miles from the town centre. Leaving Macclesfield and getting to Stockport town centre seemed an age, but in reality it only took 30 minutes, and that included an aborted stop in an Asda to get to the afore-mentioned charity shops.

First impressions were… not amazing. There was confusion on how to pay for parking – it looks like the shopping centre we were in was in the process of going “app only” for parking. A genuinely disgusting turn of events. If that’s the future, no wonder town centres are dying.

Anyway, rant over, thankfully, we found possibly the only pay machine tucked away in the corner. I deposited the cound, and we had two hours to explore the delights of Stockport.

Peering over the wall didn’t look promising.

Oh, would you look at that! It’s taken my collection of shopping centres during demolition up to three. Two in three days. Aren’t I lucky?

It took a while for things to get good when it came to shops. It seemed like you have that rank old precinct, but walk a couple of streets away, and it’a much nicer affair. Modern shops, a decent number of charity shops, and of course, a market hall.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the market hall, but it was much nicer than the one in Huddersfield. There was even a guy selling local bottles of beer. Reasonably priced too. I think I picked 4 up. I have, of course, drank them in the intervening time between me getting home and typing this, so I can’t remember what they were called, but they were very nice.

We even stumbled across a record shop. I knew we were limited on time, so I couldn’t spend much time as I wanted in there, but I almost jizzed my pantaloons at the sight of a “Loading Bay Records” copy of Ankie Bagger’s “Where Were You Last Night”, until it was pointed out that I already have it. A quick check of the databse, and it is, indeed in there. I certainly didn’t pay £2 for it though. Bugger. Or should that be Bagger? A-hahahaaaaa. Sorry, it’s getting late.

That pretty much would be the final stop. I nipped into the “Pound Bakery” for a sausage roll. It was not amazing. I also nipped into Holland and Barrett for some cough sweets that I liked, but it seems they don’t stock them anymore. Another thing discontinued is “Green Cola”, something released a few years back. It was not amazing. Either way, I picked a can of that up for 59p. I’ve yet to have it, it’s chilling in the fridge.

And that, as they say, is that.

The rainbow, pointing towards the pot of gold that is Teesside, assuming you don’t check the GPS location embeeded in the photo. Overall, an enjoyable few days away. The food was superb. the charity shops could have been better, but I was still happy with the little haul. the weather certainly could have been improved on. Unfortunately, the week after we went, the sun was cracking the pavements. At least it was back in sunny ol’ Hartlepool. Still, a little rain never hurt anybody.

Hopefully, I won’t leave it six months until I have something worth blogging about!

Day 2: The full day out

Well, it’s day 2, and if you’ve not seen this for a couple of days, it means I’ve struggled to think of a catchy title. Anyway, today was the fun day. The one where we had free rein to do anything, go anywhere. So, of course, that means.. Go to some places related to where I work, because everyone’s sad enough to do that… right?

Seeing as we’re already here, the first stop was, of course, Macclesfield. Luckily, the hotel is a very small distance from the town centre. It’s situated next to something referred to as “The 108 Steps”, because, I assume there’s that many steps.

We didn’t take these, deciding it was too early in the morning for anything resembling excersise, so we just took the long way round.

And there we were. In the shops. What had started off as a lovely day weather-wise, was soon turning overcast and cold. Joy. Never mind, it was warm in the charity shops. The first step, however, was the indoor market. It took me seconds to stumble on a decent little stall called “Rockalittle Records”. Despite having a large amount of stock, I did feel a little guilty about only picking two out of the £1 box.

It didn’t take long for me to turn my attention to the charity shops. I found a large one down one of the side streets, namely an Age UK. We got in, and there were very few CDs on display, despite there being a large bookshelf for them to reside. I needn’t have worried, as the one of the ladies kept bringing out armfuls of CDs. I quickly amassed a small collection, but at £1 a pop, I had to keep it fairly modest. I took my haul to the counter. “That’ll be £4.50 please”. I couldn’t have got out of there quick enough. I was definitely going to come back here later when the stock had been replenished.

B+M was next door. That gave the opportunity to stock up on the essentials. Namely, some of these.

We stopped off at the market again to get some brekkers. I got a cup of tea and a sausage sarnie. We had a walk around the shops, but there wasn’t anything else that particularly stood out, apart from this particularly tacky display. Hope you enjoy your sponge cubes and cup of paper, kids!

Unfortunately, by now it was now absolutely heaving it down. We went down the 108 steps, somehow managing to avoid breaking our necks on the cobbles, and headed to the car. Next step was Buxton. It was probably about half an hour in the car, it became clear why this area of the country is called the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Now, as I mentioned, I occasionally talk to people from the Staffordshire area, as part of work. It was pretty interesting to see some of the places I’ve only talked to people from.

Of course, the shops were the next step. We had two hours. There was plenty of charity shops, in fact more than I was expecting. I picked up a few CDs. There was also a shop that sold American cans of pop, for roughly the price of normal ones, so I picked up two cans of cherry coke. The US stuff is much nicer than the British stuff. You could also tell you weren’t in Kansas anymore, as there was also a shop that sold pigeons ready for roasting. Never seen that before.

We left Buxton behind and headed off to Matlock. A place I hadn’t even really heard of, until this particular day.

The road between Buxton and Matlock is an especially picturesque one, with the road running through a valley, with a nice litte river running alongside the road. Unfortunately, neither my photographic skills nor the lighting did it justice…

If, like me, however, you like charity shops, you’ll love Matlock. There’s essentially a whole parade of shops dedicated to them. Beautiful. I wish I’d have got a photo of them. Just stick “Firs Parade” into Google Maps. You’ll see what I mean.

In fact, here’s a video of me in 40 years time reminiscing about the place.

On the way back, we stopped off in Bakewell. I didn’t even know we were so close to it until we actually drove through it. There was literally just enough time to stop off and grab some stuff from the original Bakewell tart shop. Sort of wish I’d got a photo… but I did get one that summed up the weather…

Yep, nice weather for ducks. As we headed back to the car, it started raining. Hoying it down. I got into the car, as I thought Chris was going to drive over to the pay point. Nope, he walked over, and came back completely sodden.

We accidentally went a different way back which took us through the town of Leek. In fact, according to Google Maps, it was quite the detour…

By this time, there wasn’t much to do in Leek, except to nip into Lidl and get some suff for the following morning.

And so, back to ol’ Treacletown. After Chris dried himself off a little, we headed back out on the way to discovering that other Indian, namely a place called Paprika, and of course, a few more of the nearby bars. Of course, it was back to the George and Dragon for a couple. A nice little place.

It was then onto the Jolly Sailor. A nice little pub that has a huge wall of random books. I’m not sure if any of them have ever been read since they were put up there, so we chose to pick out to film review books and have a flick through them. It took a while to get served though, even though I was the only one at the bar. Twice. Still, I liked it in there and I’d definitely go again…

Next was to the Indian. Paprika. Unfortunately, it took us longer to get there than originally intended because the GPS had broken on my phone, and we were completely heading in the wrong direction. Instead of walking what should have been about 100 yards, we walked half a mile. the walk, however, was well and truly worth it.

It takes a lot for me to absolutely, 100% recommend a place. I’ve reached the age now where I’m cynical about everything, but I will quite honestly say that this is, without doubt, one of the best curries I’ve ever had. Once again, there was the poppadom, with their own variation on the newly discovered “brown dip”.

I even asked them what it was, they just said it’s “their own chilli sauce”. I’m still none the wiser, and I’m gutted about it.

Vindaloo for the main again, with onion pilau, and of course, naan bread. It was faultless, absolutely faultless. It even had that little drizzle of melted butter over the top… Ghee whizz, it was superb. I’d say, in the dozens, if not hundreds of indian restaurants I’ve eaten in other the decades, I’d probably put this in the top 3. It also worked out at about £10 less than the first place. I was gutted, as I bought the first one the previous night, and Chris paid for this one. Typical. Even “Coke Bloke” had a long face over it…

One last stop in a place called “The Fountain”. I think the beers were taking hold at that point. We’d headed back to the Travelodge after this, and watched whichever episode of Family Guy was airing that night. I remember this, because I commented on the episode at about 2AM in the morning, two hours after the telly had gone off and we’d both been asleep.

Needless to say, I’d managed to get an infinitely better nights’ sleep than I had previously. even the trains didn’t wake me up. Almost time for day three and the journey home…

Car boots and Castlegate

Now, it would be remiss of me to not start off this post by mentioning the passing of our dear old Queen Elizabeth II at the ripe old age of 96.

Anyway, I mention this, as it meant that plans for this weekend were a bit sketchy if they went ahead or not.

Let’s rewind a new days. I got sent a flyer on facebook… there was a car boot sale in an area of Stockton I’d never visited. Now, Stockton is a couple of towns over, and this wasn’t a journey that could have been made by bus. I asked Chris if he fancied it, and the answer was to the affirmative.

Evenrything was planned… until the sad death of our former monarch. Pretty much the country stopped. Horse races were cancelled. Football was stopped. Even the BBC dropped their coverage of the final Diamond League athletics meeting of the year halfway through their coverage of the women’s 3,000 metre steeplechase. The country had ground to a halt.

Understandably, there’s a period of mourning, and I was wondering if this car boot sale had been cancelled. I asked on facebook. Nobody got back to me.

Saturday morning rolled around, and I took a chance. Yeah, we’re going. The entire journey for me had a nagging, painful memory of a car boot sale that didn’t happen,back in… oooh, let’ws say 1996. Back then, I’d arranged with Chris to go to a similar car boot sale in Billingham on an early Sunday morning. Now, this was long before Facebook was a thing, and real-time information on events was non-exisent. Either way, Chris’s dad drove us up and down this road where it was meant to be… aaand no sign of it. Absolute waste of a journey, and I felt awful for it.

As I mentioned, I ‘took the plunge’ Google’s sat nav guided us to the destination. The church was there, and there were some stalls set up. Phew.

Overall, there were meant to be 33 stalls. There might have been than many, I didn’t count. I’d been though a few stalls, and picked up 6 from one at 50p each.

Now, the next stall I visited was… shall we say, awkward.. I’m going through some more CDs, at 50p each. While flicking through, and picking one or two from a particular artist, I heard the words “He liked those”. My heart sank. I knew what was coming next.

The sellers were two women, probably late 60s, early 70s. I’m clearly looking through some of the CDs that a late son had once owned. Oh my.

I was in too deep at this point. I’d picked some out, but I clearly wasn’t going without a few more, was I? Admittedly, I had a couple of them which I left behind, but the rest of those came home with me. “Think Of [Dave] While you’re listening to them!” were her parting words….

Shortly after that, the heavens opened. Thankfully, we’d managed to go through the entire car boot sale before the rain started. It was time to go, and head into Stockton’s town centre itself.

Now, 2022 is a bit of a time of change for Stockton. The “Castlegate Centre” that has been “at the heart of Stockton” for at least 40 years, is getting flattened. I have very good memories of this centre. And I hope you’ll excuse me if I go on a bit of a ramble. I’m archiving memories of a (now defunct) shopping centre….

Let’s go back to the 80s. I remember being there, must have been something like October or November, as the Christmas decorations were being put up. the fluorescent lanterns that were used to illuminate the external walkways were 4ft Thorns. At this time I don’t have an exact model number, but they were the same that were used in Hartlepool, and that’s what made them stand out to me.

Let’s fast forward to the 90s. In 1991, before I even owned a proper record player, I picked up my first “proper bought” single, “Carribean Blue” by Enya. It was either this, or “World In Union” by Kiri Te Kanawa. The Rugby world Cup had been happening at the time. There was something like 20p difference, which made me choose Enya. Plus, it had “Orinoco Flow” on the B side. A song I vaguely remember liking at the time. I remember going back to my cousin Julie’s house, and listening to both sides on her record player, as she lived near the Stockton railway station at the time.

So, as I mentioned, it’s getting flattened. Like a lot of shopping centres, it’s suffered a massive decline, and Stockton council think it’s going to be better off replacing it with a park.

Here’s a “few” photos I took at the weekend.

A brightly lit, modern shopping centre, with three people in it.

This was Kitsons butcher’s last day.

This left one shop still open… Herons. Quite surprisingly, this was the last shop before you hit the barricade of where they were demolishing the place. I asked the ‘lady’ behind the counter how long it had left. “A few more weeks”, she grunted, as the new shop in “Welly Square” was still being prepared. I genuinely don’t think she was much into conversation, or communication in general.

Even the parking meters had been “evicted”…

Did this mean the car park was free? I’ll never know. There was, however, a “graffiti wall”, where memories could be posted of the place… I was very disappointed with the complete lack of actual vandalism, and people posting actual memories of the place.

So, yeah. this will almost certainly be my final trip into Castlegate. I’ve just had a couple of memories come into my mind while typing these. There used to be a “Cash Generator” in there. I remember picking up some great vinyl from there which they were getting rid of, for 20p a pop. At some point, it moved across the road, became “Tyne Bargains”, and became of little interest to me, as they stopped selling music.

This was also one of the sites of my final “That’s Entertainment” pilgrimage when I found out they were closing. I picked up a box of empty CD cases from there for 50p. To this day, the cardboard box full of empty CD cases is still cluttering up the kitchen. Whoops. This very same store wa also the one I picked up “Now That’s What I Call Music! 4” on CD, for 49p. I’ve seen it go for hundreds of pounds with the case… sadly, mine was just the CD and therefore probably worth nowt.

Oh yeah, I also bought “Faithful” by Go West from there. It was exactly a week after my mother’s funeral, and it was also the first time Id ever been over the Transporter Bridge…

Right. We’re getting a bit too deep into the memory banks there, so let’s just draw this bit to a close. I hope that somewhere down the line, these photos remind someone of The Castlegate shopping centre…

UPDATE OCTOBER 2022: I can confirm the shopping centre has now closwd down, though B+M, Barclays and maybe another one will remain. Can’t remember. These are all accessible from the high street. No doubt these will go in the future too.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 2023: the demolition continued. They’ve taken a fair chunk out of the old Swallow Hotel now too.

There’s a chance I’ll be going back at the weekend for a proper look at the weekend, so I’ll post a proper update if I manage to get any decent shots. I’m not sure how much of it is fenced off.