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Blog From Under The Floorboards

Pop that could Rip It Up, football thoughts and the odd bit of money talk

Summer 1989 – a record shop story

In summer 1989 I had a spell working at Our Price records, in Harrow. Around four months in all, but long enough to see that the old order was changing.

While the mainstream charts were yet to feel the impact, an earthquake was now brewing in English indie.

Record shops mattered
Record shops were still the only real source for most of purchasing new music. If we didn’t have it in stock, you couldn’t just go to Amazon or Discogs, or download or stream it. And other than Woolworths – which stocked the top 30 and little else – there was nowhere else to buy it. No Tesco Superstores and such like.

It’s hard to believe now, but there were actually two Our Price branches within a few streets of each other in that outer London suburban town centre.

Continue reading “Summer 1989 – a record shop story”

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“In The All Night Cafe”

I saw Belle and Sebastian a month or two ago at the Royal Albert Hall, performing their wonderful 1996 album “If You’re Feeling Sinister”in full.

One significant member of that line-up was missing from this 20th anniversary show – bassist and co-founder Stuart David had left the group in 2000 to do his own thing with his band Looper, and has gone on to be a successful writer.

“In The All Night Cafe” is his tale of how the group started, and chronicles how he, leader Stuart Murdoch and the others went from being young unemployed men on music courses to Britain’s most lauded new indie band within a year or so.

Continue reading ““In The All Night Cafe””

From the archive: “Madchester then and now”, 2009

A few years ago I used to write music and other articles for the web portal of a well-known communications company. I used to link to them now and then but sadly all my articles have now disappeared from the internet due to various levels of revamping, remaking and redirecting new pages. So I thought I’d do my own reissuing and repacking, to use a good Mancunian phrase, and give some life to the copy of my old articles as they were back then.

This comes from 2009, and does what it says on the tin. Keen students of irony will have fun looking at what did and didn’t happen in the years since then. Continue reading “From the archive: “Madchester then and now”, 2009″

The pain of being Remain

It’s been a terrible few days to be English and to be progressive, metropolitan and liberal, and as I write this I’m not a happy bunny at all.

The gradual divide-and-rule attitude of our recent governments has had its comeuppance in the worst possible way with the Brexit vote, with all kinds of lies and false promises being fed to the easily-led and the nothing-to-lose masses in the regions.

It’s reductive and simplistic to say this is the only reason, but it certainly has led to a massive upsurge in right-wing populism and this terrible situation. Continue reading “The pain of being Remain”

Wittenbergplatz – Berlin’s ‘tube’ station

One of the many highlights of visiting Berlin for the first time last year was riding the U-Bahn, and seeing for myself the very real living history all around the city.

It’s only a quarter of a century, of course, since the city was divided and some the lines were split into two with ghost stations in the centre of town. I’ll write about that in another blog post, but for now I’ll concentrate on the Berlin U-Bahn’s unique connection with London Underground at Wittenbergplatz station.

The photo above shows the Art Nouveau entrance to the station, designed by Alfred Grenader and built in 1913. One of the oldest stations on the U-Bahn, Wittenbergplatz was opened in 1902 and lies on the U1, U2 and U3 lines, within walking distance from the historic Zoological Gardens in the Schoenberg district, and right in the titular square close to the KaDeWe department store. Continue reading “Wittenbergplatz – Berlin’s ‘tube’ station”

It’s time to give Overground lines separate names

I use the Victoria Line on a regular basis. Now, being a seasoned user of London’s transport networks, I know without a second thought which stations change to which lines.

And in most cases, staring up at the map on board the train it should be simple for even the newest of first-time visitors – the red line sign at Oxford Circus is the Central Line, black at Euston is Northern, royal blue at Finsbury Park is Piccadilly and so on.

But look again at the map – you can change to the orange line at four of six consecutive stops at the northern end; Walthamstow Central, Blackhorse Road, Seven Sisters and Highbury and Islington – but each of them is a totally different branch of the Overground, going in several different directions. Continue reading “It’s time to give Overground lines separate names”

The Palace Gates line: all that’s left

This photo shows the turn-off towards what’s left of Palace Gates Line, a north London link that used to run from just north of what is now Alexandra Palace station towards Seven Sisters.

Taken on the bridge in Bounds Green Road, with Bowes Park station a short stretch behind us, in this photo you can see how the main track goes onwards to Alexandra Palace to join the main Great Northern line to King’s Cross and the Northern City line to Moorgate.

The track that veers to the left remains the only part in situ. It goes as far as Bounds Green depot and just stops short of the site of the old Palace Gates station.

Both line and station closed to passengers in 1963 (and to goods traffic a year later), one of the few Beeching casualties to fall within the London area. Continue reading “The Palace Gates line: all that’s left”

Honda FC: the ‘gatekeepers’ to the J-League

photo credit – http://www.honda-fc.gr.jp

Honda FC, from Hamamatsu, were one of the leading company teams in the JSL, the precursor to the J-League. Along with teams representing Nissan, Yamaha, Matsushita and more they regularly battled for domestic honors (finishing 3rd in 1990-91, the penultimate JSL season) and provided players for the Japan national team.

However, unlike every single one of the other clubs that played the final JSL season prior to the establishment of the J-League, Honda FC have continually resisted the opportunity to become a professional franchise (like Nissan FC becoming Yokohama Marinos, Mazda SC becoming Sanfrecce Hiroshima, etc), preferring to retain their corporate identity.

Many teams at this time consisted of ’employees’ (often semi-professionals with desk jobs) and a smattering of foreign, usually Brazilian professional players. Continue reading “Honda FC: the ‘gatekeepers’ to the J-League”

All change at Hackney (literally)

One of the things I find most fascinating about the continued revamp of the London Overground network is the way they seem to be taking some of the most obvious fixes, considering them, and actually getting around to doing them.

The new walkway that has linked Hackney Central and Hackney Downs stations since July 2015, so that you needn’t exit either station to reach the other, is a good example.

It isn’t a perfect link but it’s a major start. To sum it up, the 210m interchange goes from platform 2 at Hackney Central (the eastbound North London Line to Stratford) to platform 1 at Hackney Downs (the southbound West Anglia line to Liverpool Street) and back. Continue reading “All change at Hackney (literally)”

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