Nothing on the Radio

Jun 28, 2010

Soon (well, actually most likely circa 2015) there will be nothing on my 19 radios (I’ve just counted them) and nothing on your radios either. Ok, perhaps other countries might not be as quick to embrace digital as the UK. I’m sure Radio Tirana will still be there on MW/SW and the French will be plain awkward and continue using LW.

Actually I’m not that bothered. I haven’t listened to any radio for a few years now. Those 19 sets are either ornaments or novelties and range from 1950s Bakelite to a Sinclair Micromatic “World’s smallest radio” which it probably was in 1971 but certainly isn’t now.

But there are plenty of people who are bothered about the switching off of MW/FM by the BBC and others and the approaching big brother world of DAB digital radio and its fixed bouquet of channels. You don’t come across an unexpected landbased pirate Reggae station on digital. DAB radio uses the already obsolete mp2 compression format which audio experts consider far inferior to FM. It is actually getting worse as they reduce the bit rate to squeeze more channels in. Heck, some DAB radio stations actually broadcast in mono !!

“Portable” DAB radios aren’t even portable because as soon as you swing them round the signal disappears. Patchy coverage makes DAB of little use in the car. The only reason I can think of to listen to DAB radio is BBC 6 Music…oh wait…they’re closing them down !!
Even on environmental grounds alone it seems ludicrous to throw away millions of radios that can pick up literally thousands of stations around the world to “upgrade” to digital radios with a choice of only 50 stations. When I first put up a TV Satellite dish I felt part of Europe with numerous foreign TV stations available from Scandinavia, France, Holland and especially Germany. Once digital TV was in place most channels were encrypted and I was once again reduced to only viewing UK channels unless I spent £££s. It looks like radio will go the same way.

PS: I’m sure there will be many people who say 50 digital radio stations is plenty and who listens to Radio Tirana anyway. One positive aspect to the little DAB radio I own is that it has a slot for an SD card which makes recording a doddle. If I could fathom how to work the fiddly little buttons. Perhaps I should record some BBC 6 Music whilst it’s still there. I can throw the SD card in the box along with my old Radio Caroline cassettes.

Xmas in June

Jun 25, 2010


The picture above is from a postcard that is 100 years old. It dates from the time when xmas cards were just that – postcards with a picture on one side and an address and greeting on the other. Then no one had thought of folding a piece of card and putting it in an envelope !! I discovered the card inside a book that was given to me by a relative many years ago.


PS: Interestingly the picture appears to have been drawn by W.G.Baxter (1856 – 1888). He was a pioneer of UK comics and best known as an artist on the Victorian satirical publication/comic  “Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday” before dying of consumption at the early age 0f 32. 

PPS: Here is an unedited version of the picture.

Nothing on TV

Jun 21, 2010

Do you remember the Science Fiction(ish) TV show from 1997 called “Crime Traveller” ?? Me neither. It rang no bells at all. Evidentally back then I was still going places and doing stuff. Anyway I was given this DVD….it was about time travel and it wasn’t American so it immediately got me intrigued. Unfortunately I can see why it only lasted for the one season. None of the characters came across as likeable. The cop who uses the time machine sees it as an easy way to solve crimes by going back to before the crime takes place and just listening in to the crook’s plans.

The time machine operated by Holly (as played by Chloe Annett) the police scientist is a ridiculous heath-robinson affair that takes up most of her apartment and is forever blowing a fuse. It also has umpteen flashing lights and the obligatory (and pointless) reel to reel tape recorder on the console just like Dr Who’s tardis circa 1965.

If I had a time machine the first thing I would do is go back a few days and buy a lottery ticket with the winning numbers on it. In one episode our hero sets out to do just that. However being unsure if the ticket would still be in his pocket when he returned to the present he decided to tell Holly the winning numbers. Despite having 12 hours to do this he proved unable to track her down or reach her on the office phone/car phone/fax. This is the sort of plot device that wouldn’t work today. In 1997 even the police didn’t seem to possess mobile phones !! With minutes to spare he gets a collegue to buy a lottery ticket but the guy looks at the scrap of paper upside down and consequently gets two of the numbers wrong. End of story. I would have just tried again the next day !!

Actually one of the few interesting concepts about this series were the rules/dos and don’ts of their time travelling to avoid a “paradox”. They mustn’t meet their other selves. They only seem to be able to go back in time a few hours or days and must be back at the time machine at the same moment they left it to avoid being stuck in a time loop. So to get back to the present they have to re-live the past. I think the Tardis is much cooler !!

So after the mind-boggling concepts of time travel I enjoyed putting my brain into neutral for a dose of “The Cuckoo Waltz”.

Rod the odd mod

Jun 14, 2010

As I continue the seemingly endless task of de-cluttering the simplest solution continues to be to wedge yet more pieces of hi-fi and umpteen LPs into the attic rather than suffer the trauma of disposing of them in the skips. But why on earth did I ever buy a Graphic Equaliser and such large speakers in the first place ???

PS: It might take 3 “clicks” to make this large enough to read.

Sometimes a certain song becomes indelibly attached to a time/place/person. Listening to The Buoys with “Give up your guns” and I’m propelled back to the summer of 1972 (for 4.05 minutes anyway). The outro/instrumental is the best part. Actually a lot of of the songs on this chart stick in my mind. Do you remember “We’re on our way” by Chris Hodge ?? I took my little russian portable radio (with its cute leather case) everywhere I went back then.

PS: The Buoys only other hit was “Timothy” which made the US charts even though it was all about cannibalism !!

PPS: If anyone should want to look at other Dutch Pop charts from the early 1970s you will find them right here.

Honey West

Jun 9, 2010

Somewhere between the real TV channels and the red-light district at the far end of your Sky Box exists a strange twilight zone of bad movies and pointless programming in search of an audience. Someone somewhere must be watching these Satellite channels but the audience figures must be as low as the number of viewers of this blog. Thank goodness “The Lucy Show” and “Cheers” have now disappeared from the UK’s airwaves. But now instead we’ve got things like “The Porter Waggoner Show” with a teenaged Dolly Parton disguised in her grandmother’s dresses and wigs.

Luckily it doesn’t take too much to amuse me. Even “adult” sitcoms such as “The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman” and “Sordid Lives” are more watchable than the ghastly remakes of Opportunity Knocks that currently fill the prime time evening schedules. And I’ve even grown to like “Samantha Who”, although I’d hate to meet any of the shallow, self-obsessed characters featured therein in real life.

I have recently enjoyed all 30 episodes of “Honey West” that seem to have been on an endless loop in the middle of the night for the last 12 months. I don’t recall this series ever being shown in the UK when it was current in 1965/1966 but I could be wrong.

Ann Francis is the sexy female private eye and is basically an american version of Emma Peel or Modesty Blaise. For some reason she has a pet/wild ocelot in her swish apartment and an ever-present aunt in case people should draw the conclusion that she is sleeping with her male side-kick. Its all entertaining stuff that moves briskly along thanks to the 30 minute episode lengths. There was even a single comic based on the TV show produced by Dell in 1966.

So why do we get old stuff on TV that is invariably from the USA rather than the UK ?? I’m still waiting for the “Space Patrol” puppets and repeats of “Tiswas”. I want to see the comedy soap operas of yore such as “The Crezz”, “Beryl’s Lot”, “Making Out” and “Night and Day”. If I’m going to watch TV I want some escape back into a simpler world. I have a sudden inexplicable urge to watch “The Cuckoo Waltz” featuring Diane Keen. Now, what was their catch-phrase…..

HIM: “Fliss !”
HER: “Chris !”
BOTH: “Kiss !!”

More Logic

Jun 8, 2010

I found a copy of issue No 3 at Knockabout Comics in London. Of course I should have thought of them in the first place as they actually publish the thing. I must make another visit to the “Dodgem Logic” website to see if  subscriptions are available yet. Number 4 is supposed to be out soon.

It is a good almost advert-free read for £3.50. I am pleased that magazines like this are still available in the UK in 2010. Oh and there’s a free gift of an exclusive iron-on transfer for your T Shirt or hippy tie-dyed Granddad Vest. It is a semi-clothed woman drawn by Melinda. I like the application instructions inside which say “Always ask an adult to help apply the transfer. Irons get very hot and should not be used by children”.
Lets hope they’re just being ironic because if little kids are reading this (and particularly last month’s) magazine we may soon be back around to a “Nasty Tales” type trial. Perhaps in a future issue they could include a free gift of one of those triangular pieces of cardboard that you used to swing through the air to make a bang/crack noise. I always liked them.

PS: I read this magazine whilst listening to “Dodgem Dude” by Michael Moorcock’s Deep Fix for the full multi-media experience !!!

Lady Penelope

Jun 5, 2010

The boy’s comic TV Century 21 began in January 1965 and initially was incredibly popular (with the young me) as most of the strips within it were related to Gerry Anderson TV shows of the time. By January 1966 a weekly companion comic for girls was available. “Lady Penelope” was the title and naturally Penelope Creighton-Ward was the star.

Like “TV Century 21”, “Lady Penelope” had a number of  strips that related to TV shows. The fact that two of the strips were “Bewitched” and “The Monkees” (my favourite shows then…actually come to think of it they’d probably be my favourite shows now if I was left in peace and quiet with a few boxed sets and some drinks…) meant that I begged and borrowed the comics when I could from a neighbour. Heck, I even bought a few issues from the local newsagents myself if the Monkees were on the front cover. So what if it was a girl’s comic. I used to buy DC’s “Love Story” if Neal Adams had drawn the cover !!

Alas although the comic lasted for 204 issues my interest in it had disappeared by issue 123 when there was a name change to “Penelope” and it lost the Gerry Anderson stuff and reverted to a more traditional girl’s comic.

More RNI

Jun 1, 2010

The nerve centre of the whole operation is two turntables on a bench in a room (cabin actually…) with scruffy pegboard walls. Well what did you expect ??  The analogue early 1970s is a world away from the computer-programmed radio stations of today. No computer screens to look at. Just a board reminding them of the station id.

Here is a short extract from Radio Northsea International one evening in late August 1974. Its lo-fi because I recorded it on my primitive equipment a few days before the offshore pirate radio station  closed down for good. The DJ sitting on the chair in the photo  and playing the records is Robin Banks (Adcroft ?).