Oh look, more records!

As promised, I thought I’d do another update on my charity shop purchases and days out. This week, there weren’t really that many. I didn’t do much on the Saturday. in fact the only place I went, was to Tesco to pick up a ready-cooked chicken, Therefore the rest of the day was spent with my face covered in the product of the rotisserie oven. Not much happening there.

Sunday was different, however.  There was a record fair in Durham… I’d remembered about it only a couple of days before, and Chris offered to give me a lift there. Woo, and indeed hoo.

The Durham record fair is never a big affair. I think I’ve mentioned about it before, there’s just a small section of a sports hall that’s netted off, while the rest of the place still is still used for badminton…

There was one stall that had quite a few boxes singles on it, at £1 each. It’s more than I normally like to pay for a single, but well, I thought I’m only here once, and there were some classics in there, such as Trevor and Simon (yes, THAT Trevor and Simon) covering a Donovan song (can’t remember which one off the top of my head) “Sky High” by Jigsaw… “I was made for Dancing” by Leif Garrett, and a couple of others that don’t spring to mind. I might edit this into a list later on… If there’s no list, then I couldn’t  be bothered. (EDIT: I couldn’t be bothered)

The Jigsaw and Leif Garrett songs are ones I’ve only just became familiar with in the last 6 months, thanks to an online “radio station” that I listen to quite regularly. Surprised I didn’t know them, as they were relatively big hits, reaching no. 4 and no. 9 respectively.

Also picked up another copy of the “Auf Weidersehen Pet” series 1 soundtrack. This wasn’t the one I had on tape as a kid, but instead contains the incidental music from the program. Been after a cleaner copy of “The Fire” from the final episode where the “hut borns doon”

So, onto Durham itself. This was a warm, if overcast Autumn day. There were only two charity shops open, so I think we only spent about half an hour there. I didn’t end up getting anything from there, except for a nice photo or two.

It was still incredibly early at that point, so on the way back, we made a detour to Peterlee. Despite being only a small town, it has its fair share of charity shops. There’s a huge Sue Ryder shop there. It’s pretty expensive too, so once again, I came out empty handed. There’s a large “Home Bargains” store next door, and I managed to pick up 5 of these for a quid.

You might notice there’s slightly more than 5 there. Turns out they’re absolutely brilliant for cleaning the muck, mould, shite and usually, for some unknown reason, dried blood, off the CDs that come from the charity shops. In fact, they’re so good, I went to the Hartlepool shop and picked up another 10 cans, and I might pick up more tomorrow. For that price, you literally can’t go wrong, and I’ll always need CD cleaning products.

Onto the main shopping precinct in Peterlee. It’s a depressing sight. This shop (which, until a couple of months ago used to be a British Heart Foundation) pretty much says it all.

I did notice that there’s a “Farplace” charity shop opened there too, which is great – they’re rapidly becoming my favourite chain of shops. It was closed, however, so I might have to make a detour there at some point.

The YMCA was open here, and I picked out a few singles from this batch. They were very well thumbed, and the covers were all an absolute state, but the vinyl itself didn’t look too bad.

Last stop in Peterlee was the “other” British Heart Foundation… Now, Peterlee is the same as most towns… Or at least it was. Two BHF stores. One that sells your standard charity shop clothes and bric-a-brac, and another, often much larger one that sells furniture only. Now, probably because the smaller shop had closed down, this larger shop had a very small selection of CDs. They had £1 stickers on, but the bloke out the back said he’d do three for a quid. Obviously, the person behind the till didn’t get the memo, as he tried to charge me £3…nah mate, I advised him to have a word with the guy out the back, and indeed, he then only charged me £1. Now I await the barrage of 0 comments calling me a greedy fecker.

Last stop of the day was another YMCA… The one in Hartlepool. I’ve had good results from this shop in the past… The items don’t get sorted as much as some other shops, so you can end up with some quality finds….

Something that I’ve been collecting for a little side project, are “knock-off” CDs. Take the songs from a famous artist, get someone else to record them in the style of the original singer, and sell them for much cheaper. These have been around since recorded music became a thing

A prolific manufacturer of these is/was Prism Leisure. I have no idea if they’re still in business, but, like this one, they released CDs along the lines of “Hits of {artist} as performed by Studio 99”

I have a couple of these now. Corrs, Britney Spears, Celine Dion, to name but a few, and they’re all absolute garbage! I have others too, the collection is coming along quite nicely.

And finally, I bought this.

I don’t think this needs explanation!

Your order has been dispatched…

It’s taken nearly 5 months, but today I received confirmation that my vinyl copy of the Desmonds theme is on its way…

“Hey!

Just a quick note to say that Happy People Records shipped your order and it’s now on its way:

Norman Beaton – Don’t Scratch My Soca (Desmonds TV Theme Tune) 7″: Ltd. edition coloured 7″, by Happy People Records
Record/Vinyl”

I can’t believe this is literally the only thing I’ve had to blog about for the past 6 months (lie: there’s been loads of stuff, but the only hits on this site now are from bots, so what’s the fucking point?) but even this could be coming to a close! I shall, of course, do an update when it lands through the portcullis of Mercuryvapour Towers.

Desmond still hasn’t arrived yet.

You may remember in my last post (if you don’t, just scroll down a little), I talked about getting the theme tune to Desmonds on Vinyl, and how excited I was at this particular series of events… you may have also noticed that I haven’t updated you with anything since then… and that’s because there’s nothing to report. As you can guess by the title of the post, it still hasn’t arrived. I’ve bugged the vendor who have said there’s been difficulties in manufacture, and the latest date they have is September 15th.

I did hear back from the producer of the record, which is nice, so I’ll include a bit of that if and when the record arrives, as it gives a nice little insight into the origin of the theme.

In other news, as I haven’t really been blogging much, I had another operation on my foot a couple of months ago (I don’t think it was long after I bought that Desmonds record), and my foot is healed. I just hope it stays that way.

I didn’t really do a blog about it… initially I intended to, but it literally was about as uneventful as things go. Of course, I did talk about the operation, so in order to pad this out a little, let’s flash back to the start of June…. (cue wibbly effects)…

Oh, and if you don’t like reading about operations, just skip bast the bold section below…

Strap yourselves in, folks, as things are about to get graphic. No photos thankfully. I don’t think they’d have liked me updating Facebook with photos.

Anyhoo. There I am, in the theatre, flat to the boards, with my left leg in the air. My only view was of the three ceiling lights, and a load of pipes, presumably for oxygen and stuff.

In goes the cannula. A device whose name escaped me until just now.

My leg was smothered in KY Jelly. Trying to take my mind off things, I wondered if that was a brand name, or just a general term. I never bothered looking it up, but by the time this goes “to print”, I’m sure I will have. (EDIT: I didn’t.)

There was talk about arteries, and I could feel some device pressing on my leg. I’m guessing this was some type of ultrasound. Dunno for certain, as my view was still of the ceiling.

It was then that the injections started, obviously for the anaesthetic. Pretty much felt like I was a dartboard at that point. I could feel each one going in, followed by a strange sensation I can’t describe, sort-of like everything was going tight.

The anaesthetist would be verbally confirming how much he was giving me, millilitres by millilire, and I guess he wasn’t allowed to just bung the whole lot in one go.

I still had sensation in my feet, like I could acknowledge when the specialist prodded something, but there was no feeling. They tested it with cold spray. Nothing. It was so weird.

Then, the operation itself began. It started with a few crunching noises. It initially sounded like he was cutting my big toenail. Whenever I get that particular nail done at the podiatrists, it always makes a satisfying crunch. Not this time, however, he was more than likely breaking my toe in order to be able to fuse it. Lovely.

It was at that point tried to think of anything other than what was happening around me… My music collection come to mind, and I thought of a way to improve my personal MP3 database (I have an SQL database with the details of my CD rips in them. it should be trivial to include a link to the music files themselves, to save me having to copy and paste the filename each time… In case you were wondering).

In a vain hope to take my mind off the noises even further (and the fact the specialist was now clearly using a screwdriver on my foot) I had a brief conversation about my music collection. I mentioned I had a copy of Manuel from Fawlty Towers singing “Shaddap You Face”. I’m not sure if the guy was impressed or just feeling sorry for me.

At this point, my view changed. They adjusted the bed so I was no longer starting at the ceiling. This was a bit more comfortable.

Now, obviously, I still couldn’t see exactly what was going on, as they had a screen up… Oh, wait. I could see exactly what was happening

Now, you know those big operating theatre lights? (These ones were manufactured by a company called Getinge, which made me think of someone saying “Get In” whilst pissed) Naturally, you can’t see anything in the reflection of the lights, as they’re all concave, but the reflection of the white shiny arm that connected the lights to the ceiling gave me the PERFECT view.

Thankfully, it was pretty much over at this point, but still, they had to sever the tendon and sew everything back together. It’s one of those things were you can’t NOT watch….

I could either just stare straight ahead at the blue cloth, or I could look to my top right and watch all the action. “Oooh, that’s a lot of blood”. I can’t even watch anyone get injected, I nearly snap my neck away from the telly every time a COVID story comes on the telly, so exactly why this proved so fascinating shall remain a mystery. Maybe I was “getting high on my mortality” as Sinead Lohan once sang.

In record collecting news, I’ve been out buying lots more CDs. Seems quite a few places have had a glut of CD donations and are therefore getting rid of them pretty cheaply. I haven’t had that much luck with the boot fairs – obviously my access to these has been limited too, but I did pick up The World of BBC TV Themes for 50p. This is the only known release that includes the full length theme to “Rockcliffe’s Babies”, performed by Paul Hart, Joe Campbell and the children from the Corona Stage School. Who’d have thought they’d have became so famous over the past two years? Oh, wait.

So, yeah. That’s been a very quick life update. Esentally, nothing’s happened for months…. nothing’s new there, then.

The theme tune to Desmond’s

Waaay back in the late 1980s, there was a comedy show called “Desmond’s”, following a family running a barber’s shop in Peckham. It aired from 1989 until the death of the lead actor, Norman Beaton, in 1994.

It would come to no surprise (to both of my regular readers anyway) that I was a fan of the theme tune, and of course, it’s one of the things that stood out to me. I loved it, and it was one of my favourite parts of the programme. It was one of those theme tunes that should have been released as a single, but it wasn’t.

Every year or so, I’d do a quick Google to see if a proper copy, or even an extended version of the theme had been leaked anywhere. Nope. The only things that ever turned up were just off-air, or off DVD recordings. Nothing more than the 45 seconds used at the start of the programme, and the instrumental bit used in the credits at the end. I came to the conclusion that it was only ever used on the programme, especially as it was co-written by the creator, Trix Worrell.

I think I went though one of these search things most recently anout a year ago, when for absolutely no reason, the theme started to be used in an advert for butter. This rekindled my love for the theme, and got me thinking, there had to be an “official” version. As the show ended in 1994, it’s unlikely that it would still exist some 26ish years later, and it certainly sounded better quality than it just being ripped from a copy of the programme.

Once again, I searched high and low (or rather, I searched Youtube), and found nothing. What’s even weirder, is that the full episodes that had been uploaded to Youtube now had the theme tune removed. How very, very odd. Considering that its only use outside of Desmonds was on a butter advert, it seemed very odd that it would just suddenly disappear like that. Obviously someone still owns the copyright to the song, so it could have just been that they didn’t want it on youtube, but why would they object to the theme being on there, but still allowing the rest of the episode to survive? It seemed clear that someone else had the rights to the song now, than what they did when Desmond’s was recorded. Were they planning a re-release?

Again, the trail went cold. No song, no videos on Youtube (except for poor quality versions), no more butter advert, and no release. I put it to the back of my mind. It was never going to see the light of day. A quarter of a century had gone by.

Now, I’ve been holed up for the past 4 weeks, thanks to an operation on my foot. I’ve barely been able to move off the sofa for a month, so I’ve became acquainted with an old friend called “Television”. Tonight (or yesterday by the time this makes it “to air”), I was watching The Chase, and the butter advert made a reappaearance. Just out of complete boredom, I flung “Don’t Scratch My Soca” into Google. Up came a result for Bandcamp. It was 3 minutes long. I didn’t expect much, just a fan remix or something like that. Imagine my surprise when, not only was it the proper version used on Desmond’s, it had a second verse! This was the moment I’d waited over 30 years for. All of the bits were there… the main theme, the bit they fade out when the episode starts, the end theme, and of course, that never-heard second verse. Daddykins, who happened to be enjoying The Chase, didn’t quite understand my excitement, as I fumbled with the remote, pausing his enjoyment of the afore-mentioned tea-time quiz show.

The track was released on June 21st, so only 9 days ago. Not only was it available as a free MP3, it’s possible to actually purchase it on vinyl (at the time of typing). A very small number were produced. 100 in colured vinyl, 200 in black vinyl, and a few white label test pressings. Well, I had to go for the coloured vinyl. I only ordered it today, so obviously, it hasn’t turned up yet. Might be a couple of weeks. Might be sooner. No doubt I’ll update when I have the record in my grasp.

Should you wish to hear the full theme, or even chance your arm at getting a vinyl copy, you can click here. Now, to give my fingers a rest, as typing this all into my phone hasn’t been the most comfortable experience.

EXTENSION: The theme was also written and produced by John Collins, and released under his “Local Records” label, which explains how / why the master recording survives. And, of course, it’s also available on Spotify

I asked some of the questionson the Local Records website too, such as when it was recorded, why it wasn’t released until now, etc.

2nd hand MP3 players!

I’ve typed a few times about radio rallies. They’re basically markets for new and old amateur radio equipment, computer bits, and box upon box of various other electronic hardware that have served its useful life. Still, there’s nothing wrong with digging through these boxes of miscellaneous flotsam to see if there’s something that’s worth looking at, or giving a second home.

You may remember I pulled out a perfectly working voice recorder last year for £1. Now, due to the fact that the headphone port on my phone is broken (or rather, there’s half a newspaper stuck in it, which won’t shift), I’ve been using this voice recorder as an MP3 player. The slight problem with it, is that it’s an absolute beast. The microphone on top of it makes it look like a taser, so I don’t like getting it out in public (oo-er). It was still serviceable, however, so I wasn’t really in the market for a new one

Today was the first radio rally of the year, in Ripon. Chris came with me, and right in the middle of a box of trash, he spied a little box. “MP3 Player 4Gb”. Of course, the burning question is, did it come home with me?

Pffft. Of course it did.

It’s one of those little “chewing gum” MP3 players, without any type of screen, or other functionality. The guy wanted £3 for it. I talked him down to £2. Finally, those years of watching re-runs of Bargain Hunt have finally paid off. My first successful haggle!

It came with everything it should have done. Manual, mini (not micro) USB cable, and Of course, the in-ear headphones. I don’t think they’ve been used, but I’m going to nuke them from orbit, just to be on the safe side. As you can see, it’s badged with the Alba name, and has the model number MP420008UK. Anybody that knows anything about hi-fi would probably projectile vomit at the mere mention of the word “Alba”, but if it wasn’t for my original Alba music system, which I got for Xmas 1991, and the CD player in 1992, I’d probably not have the same interest in music that I do now. The hi-fi is long gone, but the CD player still works. , or it did the last time I plugged it in anyways.

So, anyway, back to this MP3 player. What’s the first thing you do with any type of 2nd hand storage media? That’s right, you plug it in, check to see what the previous owner had on it! I think I’m safe publishing this. It’s an MP3 player. I don’t think they’re going to be listening to their personal documents through this.

It seems this MP3 player had a very easy life, as there were only a few files on it. The majority of the drive seemed to contain the same random data string, so it was either like this from the factory, or the previous owner wiped it using a utility. This was entirely possible, as due to the .trash-1000 folder, the previous owner was using Linux. It didn’t come back with anything other than the few tracks that were already visible. The rest of the 17 files were just random system files.

Oddly, a lot of German-named tracks. Edith Piaf too. Coincidentally, Chris was with me when I saw her grave in Paris. Funny how these things come together like that.

So, I’ve typed all of this, but does the bloody thing work? Yes, is the short answer.

Cosmetically, it’s in mint condition. No obvious wear, and the serial number sticker isn’t worn at all. As this has spent (what looks like) many years stashed away, I’m not sure how healthy the non-replaceable battery is going to be, but it charged without an issue.

I formatted it, and copied three, songs to it. They’re the first three instrumental versions from the “Pandora’s Box” version of Hell Frost, by The Unguided, if you were wondering, and yes, it works great. Despite it only being 4Gb, that’s plenty of space for the short bus journey to work. It certainly lasted the whole time it took me to type this.

In conclusion, I’m pretty happy with this purchase. It’ll certainly last me until I upgrade my phone. Now, to choose what other crap to fling on it!

EDIT: October 2019 – It’s appeared to have developed a loose/dirty power switch, where a knock or a jolt will turn it off. It might just need a clean, or it might have just been thrown about once too often. I’ll see how it goes. 6 months use out of a few quid. Not bad.

Hartlepool Record fair – just a few days to go!

What’s black, 12 inches long, and guaranteed to bring a smile to my face? Yes, that’s right. A record.

And on the end of that terrible, and actually non-factual joke (I collect singles mainly), I’m happy to announce that for the first time this millennium, the lovely little fishing village of Hartlepool is getting its own record fair! (Would help if I mentioned the date. It’s this Sunday, March 31st. Oops)

It only seems a mere 20 years ago, since I was rummaging through boxes, buying “Morning Train (9 to 5)” by Sheena Easton, because I thought it was the *other* “9 to 5″, you know, the one by Dolly Parton. Little did I know that those particular memories would be the last ones I’d make for 20ish years, and I’d have to satisfy my record hoarding hunger through other methods, and other towns with their own record fairs.

Let’s get the formalities over with, If you’ve found this through Google, or something similar because I mentioned the record fair in Hartlepool (sutble), and you want to know how to get there, then it can’t be easier. If you’re coming by train, head out and look for the big church. Walk towards the church, and look for a zebra crossing on your left. That’s Tower Street. Walk about 100 yards along that road, and there’s be a building on your right that looks like a smaller church. That’s it. That’s the Studio, and that’s where the record fair is. It’s really easy to get to.

I’m also not affiliated whatsoever with the record fair runner, I’m just over the moon to have one in my home town again, and if the fair is well attended, there’ll be more, and I’ll be a very happy bunny.

We now return you to your usual programming, of me rambling about crap that happened recently, and yes, mainly record fairs.

So, erm… yeah. How to sum up 20 years aof record fairs. For me, they go way back. Pretty much my entire adult life. The late 90s were a strange time for music. Vinyl record sales were dramatically on the decline, CDs were still the in-thing. Music downloads were something done illegally, and streaming was something you did in a dark alley on the way home after 15 pints in the pub.

The art of the record fair was also in decline. It never truly died off, but it’s safe to say it went into hibernation. Fast forward many years. I’d lost my hair, my beer gut took pride of place around my midriff, and all of a sudden, vinyl was back in vogue again, and so, the humble art of the record fair returned.

I think the first one I went to (in the recent batch) was back in 2013, then the owner of Betterdaze (a record store in Northallerton), arranged one. It must have had a good attendance, as more were arranged, along with others in Northallerton. Looking back through the collection, I’ve came back with some cracking stuff from all of them. I mean, who could turn down a 12” pressing of “Seven Tears by The Goombay Dance Band, on clear yellow vinyl? Not me! I picked it up from Middlesbrough on 12th September 2015.

Recently, I’ve travelled as far as Leeds, just to get toa record fair. They was an ordeal. Absolutely worth it for the German pressing of “Downtown” and “Another Man“by One 2 Many. In fact, you can view all of the records I bought that particular day.

So, in conclusion, yes, if you attend this record fair, there is a very high possibility I will be in attendance. Say hello. Actually, no, don’t. I don’t mix well with strangers, and I’m out the night before, so there’s a strong chance I’ll be hanging out my hoop, and not willing to talk to anyone.

If you do go, I hope you find some bargains!

Then We’ll have Steak And Chips for tea.

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…