About Me

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Cromer, Norfolk, United Kingdom

I'm a former hospital radio/club/mobile DJ, avid record collector and amateur musician (playing guitar, keyboards, recorder, harmonica and percussion.) I've even filled in on bass guitar for a couple of local bands as well (although that was quite a few years ago). Also interested in Motorsports, Wrestling/Mixed Martial Arts and Classic Television and Radio from the 1960s - 1980s.

Why am I on here? Well, I'm just trying to make some sense of life before it's too late...but who cares anyway?

Monday, 30 April 2018

An Informal Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce the newest addition to the Radbourne household, our Patterdale Terrier, Archie!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Just For The Records

Bush KTS-601.
You may have seen all those stories in the media about the boom in vinyl sales. In fact, they increased again last year by 26.8% according to a report by the BPI. So many electronics companies are cashing in on its resurgence which explains the explosion in record players and turntables in recent years.  Crosley in particular have been at the forefront with models such as the Cruiser, but seem to be suffering from some bad press.    One YouTube user (who’ll remain nameless at this point in time) has even gone on record as saying that when he gets 100,000 subscribers he’ll destroy a Crosley Cruiser on camera.  So I’m left wondering, why is the Cruiser (and other similar players, such as the Bush KTS-601 (which I got as a 53rd birthday present a couple of weeks back) getting such a bad reputation?

For a start the build quality is a bit ropey to say the least.  The turntable chassis is completely made of plastic which cuts down on production costs.  In fact the same chassis can be seen on all those “vintage style” music systems which have been popping up on the internet over the last few years.  The case itself is relatively solid in comparison though.

Then there’s the ceramic pickup cartridge. Basically, it’s the same as a Sanyo MG05 cartridge which was first available in the early to mid 1990s on those cheap midi systems you could get from those mail order catalogues.  The common complaint here concerns the stylus that goes with it, especially if it has a plastic cantilever.  According to reviewers this could result in poor tracking or skipping during playback.  There’s no counterweight either so you won’t be able to adjust the tracking weight, which according to some, is excessive to say the least.  Most cartridges track at around1 - 3 grams maximum, while the Cruiser’s tonearm tracks at around 4 – 5 grams.  So be careful with that prized 180gm pressing of “Dark Side Of The Moon”.

So how does it sound?  Well, if you’re using the built-in speakers it sounds rather tinny with very little bass response.  Then again, it you’re not expecting hi-fi quality sound, and just wanting something to play those old 1950s and 60s records it doesn’t seem too bad.  Many reviewers have suggested hooking it up to your amplifier for best results, although the performance of the ceramic cartridge doesn’t match up to those on the higher end systems.

So how about my experience with the Bush KTS-601?  (which is essentially the Crosley Cruiser in all but name)  Well, it’s not as bad as the reviewers make out.  If you’re prepared to put up with the tinny sound and ropey build quality it’s OK, but make sure you have a spare needle or two to hand.  It’s currently selling on the Argos website for around £20 (but prices vary between £20 - £40 elsewhere) so all in all, it’s good for the money.

And as a final thought: if it goes kaput, well, at least you can still use it as an amp for your mp3 player...

UPDATE: That YouTube user who declared that he would smash up a Crosley Cruiser on camera when his subscriber count reached the 100,000 mark:  he did (unfortunately) honour his promise, and a few days ago posted this video...


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

You thought they’d be happy if you moved on for the better…

Well, that’s what I thought. While I’ve been acting as a feedback volunteer for Fledgling Arts Collective I’ve been keeping an eye open for other suitable voluntary roles, which would not only keep my skills up to date, but also build up my confidence after several years dealing with my Social Anxiety Disorder.

A couple of days ago I found one that was right up my street so to speak – a “Get Digital Volunteer” for the local library service. This involved helping people get to grips with computers, which was something I had started to do towards the end of my I.T. course at the old Peele House centre in Cromer around 22 years ago. Naturally as it would affect what I was doing with Fledgling, I sent a message about it to Dale, who was one of the managers, who was generally quite reasonable about it, asking me to keep him posted when I knew of any developments.

The founder of the charity, a lady called Jewels, sent a reply which, although polite, wasn’t exactly supportive, being more akin to a stern lecture about responsibilities and commitment and so on and so forth. I thought she’d be pleased that I had a chance of a role which would enable me to utilise my skills more effectively than just sitting at a computer, reading copious amounts of poetry etc, and simply typing positive comments for the sake of it.

Anyway, I replied to her message, basically explaining about the Social Anxiety Disorder and other Issues I had including lack of confidence – well, let’s face it – I find it damned near impossible to express myself as eloquently as most people sometimes. Even doing things like this blog for example can be challenging because I have trouble trying to find the right words for a certain situation. People in the past have written me off as a slow learner, or just thick, while others have speculated that I could have Aspergers but nothing has ever been done about it, but I digress. I’m expecting a reply back, but I’m not sure it’ll be a positive one. In the meantime, It appears that I’ll be finishing up with Fledgling, but I’m not too sure about what’ll be happening in the future.  As Paul remarked when we were discussing it earlier on Facebook -  "If you volunteer you may as do something that will benefit somebody else & give you experience as comment on badly written poems written by people whose talent is more Laurel and Hardy than Laureate".

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Overloaded (Or a cry for help)

Under pressure from all sides
Don’t think I can handle the stress
Just being expected to do so much
My whole life’s turning into a mess

Left on my own to run the house
As everyone else is at work for the day
Cooking & cleaning, feeding the pets
No one else to do it so I’m told I must stay

Then the pressure begins to mount
with the Jobcentre constantly on my back
“If you do this you’ll soon get a job”
But it doesn’t pan out. “There’s something you lack”

So I try volunteering “It could be worth a punt”
But I end up in a panic – no one knows why
Until I explain about my anxiety
Then all they say is simply “Goodbye”

I’m not even allowed to take a step back
And calm down, of that there’s no hope
It’s getting to be way too much for me
I simply just can’t cope.

I really need some “me time”
Or else I’m going to crack
I wish they’d just leave me alone

©2017 Mark Radbourne

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Compare and contrast

This time last year a search on Universal Jobmatch for vacancies in Norwich over a 3 day period yielded 40 pages of results (approx 1,000 jobs)

Today: using exactly the same search criteria; 8 pages of results (180 jobs)

Now with all respect to DWP no amount of visits to jobs fairs, work experience placements, training courses, seminars and other initiatves is going to get me closer to finding paid full-time work, especially as an advisor on your flagship Work Programme deemed me as "too old" at 48 years of age four years ago.  

I'm now 52 years old with type 2 diabetes and various mental health issues, so in the immortal words of one Vincent K. McMahon I have "no chance in hell" of finding meaningful paid employment.  I've had job interviews cut off when employers discovered that I was laid off due to "stress related illness", and in one case had an extremely severe lecturing from one HR person at a caravan park  in Trimmingham purely for using public transport!  No matter how hard I try, or how much of an effort I make to try and better myself, I keep getting pushed back further and further.  It's not just a glass ceiling that I run into, it's a bloody titanium-plated lead wall!

So while it's good news (in a way) when the unemployment rate is down to the lowest it's been for around 42 years, it's getting more difficult to actually find a job as the figures I've quoted above illustrate.  And the more knock-backs I get, the less confident I get about getting work.

Thank God I don't have to go through the humiliation of one of those Work Capability Assessments.....

Friday, 3 February 2017

The following was something I sent to one of my Twitter followers after I saw several posts expressing her frustration at being single..

There’s something I need to say to you
And I hope you don’t mind if I do
It’s something that I need to share
and prove to you that I do care

You see, when I ask “are you OK”,
it’s just the first thing I can say
I’d like to help out if I can
So put your trust in this gentle man

If you just want some idle chat
Well, I would be OK with that
It would help to pass the time
and hopefully, you’ll soon feel fine.

I hope you’ll get to know me well
As there’s loads of stories we could tell
There’s no need for you to be scared
as a problem halved, is a problem shared

There’s one more thing that I must say
As we reach the end of the day
Distance may keep us far apart
but you’ll always have a place in my heart.