The Duke - August 19, 2015

Robin Duke
Robin Duke
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One of the first things I promised to do when I left full time employment was to sort out my “records.”

And by “records” I mean not only 7 and 12 inch vinyl and those infernal relative newcomers, cds, but also cassette tapes.

If I were being strictly honest I also mean the fragile 78rpm (stop reading now if you are under a certain age) shellac horde which is wasting away somewhere in the house and the rapidly disintegrating reel-to-reel tapes I recorded more than 40 years ago and have long since not owned anything I can play them on.

Anyway it’s now been more than two and half years since I left the “day job” and I’ve not made much of a start on “sorting.”

Those once welcome review copies no longer find their way to me which is probably a blessing in disguise because where once I prided myself on a filing system which was never more than a year behind being truly efficient, now the whole thing is a bit of a shambles.

Partly to blame is a librarian former friend of mine who told me my alphabetical storage was all to cock. And partly to blame was the insurance man who insisted I keep my index cards in locked fire proof filing cabinets - which took all the spontaneity and fun out of filing them at all.

By the way, I’ve mentioned before haven’t I that I do tend towards spectrum geekiness?

The result is that I’ve got “records” (and tapes etc) snuck away all over the house in hidey holes that I hope The Manager doesn’t discover. She always does of course. Usually when gravity takes over and they crash to the ground from places I thought were too high to reach.

Just lately though I’ve hit a snag. I’ve never quite come to terms with the technicalities of the vinyl playing part of my main stereo system (are they still called that?) so resort to a low-fi cheesy portable player like the ones we baby boomers took on picnics and dropped bits of cheese and tomato sandwiches into.

But now my standby cd/cassette/radio player is on the blink. For a while it’s been refusing to play any cd with a running time of more than 60 minutes but now it’s even decided to select which individual tracks to play.

So after years of neglect I decided to dip into my cassette collection (stashed away in the guest room much to the annoyance of visitors who could better use the shelf space).

The last time I took much notice of it was when I donated a car boot (or two) full to Blackpool’s own Godfather of Punk and former parliamentary hopeful Andy Higgins.

They were all entries to The Gazette’s various rock competitions by mostly long lost bands - which I’d kept because I’m a hoarder.

Things came to a head when The Manager insisted it was them or her – and then went back on her word when I chose them. Anyway they went to a good home and Andy used some of them when compiling his well-received retrospectives on the Blackpool rock scene. The rest are probably now landfill.

So I’ve started rediscovering nuggets from my remaining cassette collection which has slowed down my “sorting” even more.

The trouble is that now the cassette player is running a tad slow and makes everything from The Tansads and Marine Girls, to Robert Reilly and the Buffalo Club and John Cafferty’s Beaver Brown Band (ok, they’re quite obscure) sound like the woozy golden days of offshore pirate radio. Great tunes but guaranteed to make me feel seasick.

My wife’s mysterious Bloomfield Road relocation

Having been married for more than 40 years there’s not a lot The Manager and I don’t know about each other.

So imagine my surprise to discover last week that she has been identified as a potential football hooligan.

Putting it mildly I couldn’t have been more surprised if she’d been signed up as Blackpool FC’s much needed latest striker.

Let me explain. Having sat peacefully in the same seat for the last few seasons she has now been turfed out “to assist in preventing the threat of further pitch invasions and sanctions.”

To the best of my knowledge the biggest threat she has ever posed is muttering “the referee is a slightly overweight chap born out of wedlock” under her breath.

Having made friends with the people around her, she now has to start all over again – and to make matters worse she’s been put on the same row as The Only One and myself - ruining the one row difference we had always maintained for superstitious reasons (an important factor when it comes to football).

Her football friends have been relocated all over the place – and all with just two days notice.

Ironically the “netting” used to calm everyone down looks far more negotiable than clambering over four rows of seats and is white enough for plenty of future graffiti.