Is there anything better than a surprise record fair?

Saturdays. It’s hard to say that you can genuinely enjoy just a seventh of your life, but yes, seeing as Saturdays only come round once a month, it’s hard to put it any other way. Fridays still involve work, and Sundays are spent dreading work, so yeah. One day of enjoyment a week.

This particularly depressive attitude means that I have to make the most of my Saturdays. I went to bed particularly early the night before, as “Totally 70s” was off-ait this week. It’s an online radio station that… Yep, you guessed it, plays 70s music, and has live videos, usually with a video stream. Unfortunately, the Friday night DJ couldn’tt make it, due to real-life commitments, so it was left to their automated system to dish out the tunes. And without the interactive element, it’s just not the same, so I went to bed.

It did mean, however, that I could wake up early enough to actually do something with my one enjoyable day, so thought I’d jump on the bus and go to Stockton and then Middlesbrough. It’s a good while since I’d done a full day of “charity Shop shit”.

I disembarked at Stockton, and quite literally the greatest sight that could ever be projected into my shiny little eyeballs, the sight of a marquee, and those magical words…

It was like some type of beautiful waking dream. It was free too, which was just the icing on the cake.

One complaint I’ve had about recent record fairs is that there’s been very few boxes to rummage through, namely random boxes of singles. This time, I was not disappointed. In fact the very first box I went through, I pulled out this….

It’s a song I don’t expect anyone reading this to know (much like the entirety of my collection), but I first heard it probably back in 2014, from this particular episode of Ron Gerber’s “Crap From The Past”. It was also used in the film “Playing For Keeps”, which I’m sure you’ll be unsurprised to learn I haven’t seen.

I picked up a few other bits from this particular stall, and ended up paying £8 overall. I think this marks a significant moment, as I’m sure it was the first time I’d paid for anything at a record fair using my card.

I went through a couple of other stalls and picked up a few bits and bobs, (including Now 1 on CD, the 2018 re-release though), and came out highly satisfied with my haul, considering I didn’t even know it was going to be there.

Of course, this record fair ate into the time that would have otherwise been allocated to the charity shops. This wasn’t much of an issue, as these days, the quality of the musical merchandise you can pick up from Stockton’s shops has gone slowly downhill recently, so I didn’t come out with that much.

Despite the fact that time was getting on, there was still enough time to grab the bus to Middlesbrough (there’d have been even more time if I hadn’t have forgotten which pocket I’d put my bus ticket in, meaning I had to wait for the next one).

I think Middlesbrough has to be my favourite place for charity shops. They’re plentiful, and a couple of them had even came back from the dead. The “Age UK” had reopened (despite it having a big “To Let” sign on the door, and also the “Cats’ Protection” which had closed at some point before the lockdown, I believe. I didn’t buy anything from either, but good to see they’ve been resurrected, at least for now.

There’s also a new “Amazing Grace” shop, in the place of Scope/Sense (Can’t remember which) in the shopping centre. Again, nothing of any interest.

YMCA always have some goodies on offer, and today was no exception, along with Farplace. They had some “100 Hits” boxsets, at a quid each, snapped up three of those. I probably already have, like 95% of the songs, but I’ve always found a couple of obscure gems on the other ones that I’ve not seen anywhere else.

That concluded my journey pretty much. The last stop was HMV. I considered getting a James Blunt “Greatest Hits” CD for his song “Bartender”, which I like, but don’t own, but it was too close to payday to consider paying £5.99 for such an item. Good lord, inagine going overdrawn because of James Blunt? It stayed on the shelf.

Last stop was the bakery near the bus station, where I picked up some lovely sausage rolls.

The bus ride was particularly uneventful, until the bus got to Asda, when a load of kids got on, who decided they want to make a nuisance of themselves, with water pistols and the like.

A teeny, tiny bit of water hit my hand, like maybe three drops.

“If you even think of aiming that at me again, I’ll jump over there and shove that down your throat”. Of course, I said that about 30 seconds before I got off, otherwise I’d have no doubt got completely soaked off them.

Just as I was getting off, the driver came out of his cab and bellowed at them to behave, or they were getting kicked off. I do wither what happened after that!

I then stocked up at lidl, and returned home, just in time to see the build-up of some insignificant football match, which The Liverpools lost, I believe.

It was an early night for me, as there was something exciting happening that following morning… A radio rally!

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!