Another chance to look at what you have been searching for on East of the M60’s – plus our ‘very’ human powered responses

“How did I get here?” Yes, David Byrne could have been talking about East of the M60 had it existed in 1980. We probably would have pulled Xanadu to pieces after seeing it at the Stalybridge Palace. Or we would have been telling folk about this great musician who appeared on Piccadilly Radio’s Nightbeat programme. In our last look back in November 2018, Cob Coaling and East of the M60 topped our ten search strings.

As with the previous two articles in the series we answered ten questions, as detailed in East of the M60‘s rear end. The most searched for terms in the last 30 days are as follows:

  1. M60 blog (5);
  2. Pete the plate spinning dog (3);
  3. The independent music charts october 1985 (2);
  4. Stagecoach Manchester new depot (2);
  5. 1979 world disco finals (2);
  6. Burneys bakery Rochdale (2);
  7. Phoenix Nights which edition featured audition night (2);
  8. Henry Africa’s [sic] Oldham (2);
  9. Very radio advert August (1)
  10. Remembering things you used to do in the 80s video shops (1).

Here’s a selection from the last month.

1. M60 blog

A pretty obvious call, as it refers to East of the M60 of course. Only that some people have found use via the search term ‘M60 blog’ instead of typing the search string in long form.

2. Pete the plate spinning dog

We first mentioned Pete The Plate Spinning Dog in our look at speciality acts. Pete the Plate Spinning Dog famously beat Su Pollard in an episode of Opportunity Knocks.

3. The independent music charts October 1985

We have yet to look at the Independent Music Charts in great depth on East of the M60. In the past we have looked at the NME music charts and the Nescafé/Pepsi Network Chart. The first Independent Singles Chart was collated in 1980, charting the highest placed singles on independent labels like Factory, Rough Trade and Fast Product.

On the 19 January 1980, Spizzenergi’s Where’s Captain Kirk was the first Number One. Back in October 1985, Depeche Mode’s It’s Called A Heart (Mute Records) toppled Felt’s Primitive Painters off the top spot. Depeche Mode’s stint at the top was only for a week. The rest of October saw the Indie top spot being held by The Smiths with The Boy With The Thorn In His Side (Rough Trade).

4. Stagecoach Manchester new depot

There is two ways to answer this question. If we mean ‘purpose built’, that honour belongs to Sharston Depot, which opened in March 2011. This replaced the iconic Princess Road depot in Moss Side.

If we mean Stagecoach Manchester’s newest depot through acquisition, then JPT Travel’s Joshua Lane base would fit the bill. This was acquired in 2014, but Stagecoach chose to concentrate its Middleton operations in Greengate. In 2012, they acquired the Greengate garage after purchasing Bluebird Bus and Coach’s operations.

5. 1979 world disco finals

To be more precise, The EMI World Disco Dancin’ Championships Finals at the Empire Ballroom, Leicester Square, London. That year’s competition was won by Julie Brown, representing the United Kingdom.

6. Burneys bakery Rochdale

Burneys did better pies than Greggs, and they did the better cherry Bakewell tarts than its now more illustrious competitor. That I can speak from experience in the 1980s and 1990s. As to where the branches of Burneys were in Rochdale, the two I can recall were in Rochdale Shopping Centre.

One occupied a corner unit close to the Pioneer Department Store main entrance. This was on Yorkshire Street and is still open today as a branch of Sayers. The other one was in the now closed indoor market. This was situated on the ground floor beside an exit that was close to the Gents’ Toilets and pedestrian ramp to Toad Lane and St. Mary’s Gate.

The original Burney’s Bakery was based on Dodgson Street, Rochdale, and closed in 1988. The original chain had seventeen stores, which included branches in Stalybridge, Ashton-under-Lyne, Hyde and Droylsden.

7. Phoenix Nights which edition featured audition night

In the context of Phoenix Nights, ‘audition night’ refers to the sixth episode of its first series. In other words the Talent Trek episode. The episode was in no doubt inspired by the Manchester Evening News‘ Search For A Star competition. As to how The Phoenix Club bagged clubland’s prize talent show, it was the possibility of it being Jerry St. Clair’s last Phoenix Club gig. Despite being given the all clear at a hospital examination in the previous episode.

8. Henry Africa’s [sic] Oldham

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Henry Afrika’s was the place to be for many Oldhamers. It had (quelle surprise) an African theme. Before 1972, it was North Western Road Car Company’s state-of-the-art bus station and bus depot. The Clegg Street garage was sold by SELNEC PTE to the United Norwest Cooperative Society.

Of the search strings, this has gone up two places from our 2018 article.

9. Very radio advert August

OH DEAR. Oh dear, oh dear. If you listen to any one of Global’s commercial radio stations (LBC, Classic FM, etc), the stations seem to have a good line in awful radio adverts. Out in the lead for this month’s Most Irritating Radio Advert is Very’s Back To School advertisement. The advert begins with the mother chivvying her offspring to put on their rucksacks, then smile, before going all ‘victorious’.

The advert is as real as Donald Trump’s hair, has the sincerity of a Conservative Party manifesto pledge and makes me far less likely to purchase a thing from their catalogues. As for anything I have said about the Robin Lloyd and Charnock Richard Cycles adverts in my Irritating Radio Adverts post, all is forgiven. Could somebody send me a time machine back to 1986, so I could listen to Piccadilly Radio in its pomp?

10. Remembering things you used to do in the 80s video shops

Ahem…! I shall try not to read too much into that search string. This could be misinterpreted in a sleazy sense if you hired Debbie Does Dallam (they couldn’t afford Dallas, so Warrington sufficed) or Eee ManU Elle (the main character was a Barnsley Red) from John’s Books on the A62.

Anyway, I shall give you the family version behind the search string. In a 1980s video shop, you would pay a modest price to join a video library. This would cover a membership card, paperwork and enable you to borrow so many video cassettes for a night or two. 90% of the shelf space was taken up by VHS cassettes. The Betamax section would be about 7% with video game cartridges and half a dozen V2000 cassettes making up the numbers. The other 3% was for popcorn or other nibbles depending on where you borrowed your videos from.

Throughout the 1980s, dedicated video shops were as ubiquitous as e-cig shops are in the 2020s. Some were single shops like Total Video on Astley Street, Dukinfield – or the legendary Jubilee Video Library in Egret Mill annexe on Old Street, Ashton-under-Lyne. By the late-1980s, chains began to develop, initially at local level with Jack Beanstalk Video, AZAD Video and – in a Toymaster/Spar/NISA sense – Hollywood Nites. Then came Blockbuster Video, an American company which was the last surviving video shop chain in the UK.

After collecting your videos, you would sit back and enjoy the films, maybe watch some straight-to-video cartoons you never saw between Going Live! or Motor Mouth. The most important thing you needed to do, once you had finished with the cassette, was rewind it for the next user. To avoid late fees, they had to be returned by a certain time. If you borrowed your videos from a local video shop or your friendly off-licence, there would be a handwritten note which read, “rewind and return before 7pm”. Always 7pm, or whatever the shop’s close of business time was.

“Bye bye everyone, bye bye…”

Before I go, feel free to elaborate on our selection of answers. We hope this has answered some of your questions. If another interesting set of search terms emerge they shall be the subject of another article. As the late great Chris Sievey’s papier maché alter ego once said, “you know there will, there really will… (thank you)”.

S.V., 14 August 2020.

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