Category Archives: History

The Quatermass Xperiment

I’m currently watching the Quatermass Xperiment (1955) on TV.

AKA the creeping unknown.

As a young child, I found this film pretty scary. Following the return of a space ship to Earth, with its nose buried deep in the ground, the experts arrived at the crash site.

As a young child, I wouldn’t have known what a VW T2 was, even though I had one of those German police VW car and van models.

So I wouldn’t have noticed that the experts had arrived in a T2 split screen.

One unusual thing about the van was the radio set in the engine compartment!

The Innocents

I’m currently watching a film I last saw at the age of around four or five. I had recurring nightmares for several years afterwards, with no recollection of actually seeing the film.

The dreams were a distant memory, randomly triggered now and again. As a teenager, it was pretty vague, the remnants of dreams rather than an event.

By adulthood, I’d obviously realised I’d seen a film that’d scared the shit out of me as a little kid. But I’d not come across the film, so there was a small element of doubt; I could have imagined it (I had a pretty good imagination back then).

Anyway, the film does exist.

There’s stuff that isn’t in the film, but that was probably down to that child imagination and, well, dreams.

The film’s a bit rubbish by the way. But God knows why I was watching it at that age.


Gateshead town centre has faced brutality since the 60s.

Much of the 60s improvements have recently been demolished, with 21st Century developments taking their place.

However, remnants of an earlier era remain. Not for long, though.

Gateshead High Street hasn’t been much of a high street for a long time, but one must question why it’s been allowed to fall into its current state of virtual dereliction.

Now, I’m aware of the long term plan for the high street, but I can’t understand why restoration gave way to demolition.

We’re now left with a town centre which is effectively a Tesco supermarket. Without doubt, this will one day go the same way as its 60/70s predecessor. It’s more brutal than the former brutalist buildings.

A few years ago, I compared the high street to a mouth made up of decayed teeth. It’s now virtually toothless.

With another extraction in progress.

It’s probably time to rename Durham Road. New Gateshead High Street.

Finchale Abbey

Me and the dog had a walk around Finchale Abbey this morning in the sunshine.

I used to spend a lot of time there as a kid; it’s hardly changed.

That last picture of the entrance to a staircase has changed, though. The gate must have been added for safety reasons – I first climbed those steps with my Dad, I couldn’t have been older than five.

I last climbed it with my kids when they were very young.

Watch strap

My first watch arrived via Green Shield Stamps; I’d have been around five years old. I recall that, at that age, I had a vague conception of time, but was unable to consistently tie my shoelaces.

It was a Timex watch, with a white face and a black leather strap. Something like this one (found on eBay), although I don’t recall it being water resistant.

Anyway, the watch had a short life. I remember falling down the stairs in an attempt to fly (I’d had recurring dreams involving flights down the stairs. These always involved a safe take-off and landing). The face of the watch cracked in the way a watch face cracks on impact at the bottom of a flight of stairs.

I was probably around six years old when we’d accumulated enough Green Shield Stamps to acquire another (identical) timepiece.

This watch had a longer life, a couple of years or more. The strap wore out though, so a replacement was needed.

My grandmother (paternal) bought a new strap. It was beautiful. I chose it myself. Silver leather rather as opposed to the original black. Hong Kong 1960s fashion at its best.

After a couple of weeks, the silver finish had worn off, leaving a muddy brown strap. I remember feeling regret that I’d not opted for a more sympathetic replacement.

There’s a point to this. On the right of the picture below; the watch shop where the strap was purchased in 1968. In Auckland.

Green Shield Stamps.

Old van

OK, so our new old van has some issues. Mostly rust. But, we’ve done around 300 miles in the last couple of days and it ran great.

We were particularly impressed with the Sat Nav holder.

And the number of people who wave as you drive chug past.

Music from Anfield

This is probably my best ever purchase. Made in the UK in 1967 and still works as intended. Which isn’t exactly great.

Interestingly, The original owner’s name and address is still in the manual. Courtesy of Google, this was where they lived.

And this is where they bought the record player (although the music shop is long gone).

White paint

While half watching something on Netflix, I noticed an issue of historical accuracy. In a Western documentary -drama, Ulysses S. Grant’s office was very white. As in white gloss paint.

There’s a problem in that, while the year was stated as 1866, (bright) white paint wasn’t invented until the 20th Century; specifically 1921.

If someone’s going to do something, they should do it properly.

News Chronicle

A dozen or more years ago, I found an old enamel sign, buried in the garden. It’d had a hard life and parts had rusted away. But it’s still a cool thing and would have originally been fixed to the front wall of the house, in the days of its life as a shop.

For a while, the sign was hung at the top of the stairs, but redecoration resulted in its retirement to a dusty corner.

However, As of today, it now sits proudly in the bathroom.

The sign originally advertised a daily newspaper, News Chronicle. This went bust in the 1930s, so the sign’s most likely from the early 1900s. Beamish museum has a more complete version.

I’d imagine that it was relegated to the garden in the early 60s, when the shop moved from its long time newsagent role to one of general dealer.