How To Have 1000 Number Ones - The Easy Way

Friday, March 24, 2006

Wayward Wind

I had arranged a meeting at Leeds University and decided to follow it with some shopping. I boarded a bus to find myself surrounded by teenagers, and realised that it was the week of the half-term break, which somewhat put me off. The weather didn’t help matters. I emerged from my meeting into the cold wind and rain, and engaged in an internal dialogue about whether I should abandon my plans and simply go home.

I resolved to go ahead with my trip, and in this spirit of adventure I went to the train station, with the intention of taking the first available train that stopped somewhere that was reasonably close and where there might conceivably be a few suitable retail establishments.

After studying the departure boards I plumped for Cross Gates, having been tipped off by Jane, at our recent pub lunch, that there were a number of charity shops there. I went to buy a ticket but the automated machine insisted on rejecting my advances. After two unsuccessful attempts I realised that the time I had wasted here meant I would miss the train I had intended to catch. I was forced into my second choice, Morley. Cross Gates would have to wait.

This time my ticket purchase was executed flawlessly. A glance at my watch revealed, however, that I had overestimated my window of opportunity and would have to run for the train, which was about to depart from a distant platform. I hurried through the crowded station and made it onto the train with seconds to spare.

Morley is a town which now stands outside of Leeds, having declared independence in April 2000 (Westlife’s Fool Again was at Number One). I can not claim to know my way around, but I took a train there in around 1996 and remembered that the station was located reasonably near to the town centre, where there were bound to be a few of the usual charities and perhaps even a record shop.

The train stopped first at Cottingley. I had a look around, as well as I could through the train windows, and wrote this off as a future destination. The station appeared to be situated in the middle of a vast housing area and despite a good view from the elevated railway there were no shops in sight.

After a few minutes we arrived in Morley. The station turned out to be located nowhere near the town centre. I reasoned that if I picked a road and kept walking I would eventually reach civilisation. Luckily the weather had improved, and sure enough after ten minutes or so I spotted a pub and a garage, signs that I must be heading in the right direction. Shortly afterwards I discovered a scattering of shops and even a signpost directing me to the town centre.

I cleverly followed the sign, and found myself walking along a parade of shops. These included an acupuncturist’s clinic, a power tool supplier, an angling emporium and, of course, Hockey World (West Yorkshire’s Number One hockey retailer, I should think). Eventually there were banks, an estate agent and a newsagent, and I finally felt I must be close to my goal.

In the distance I spotted the Children’s Society Shop and hurried up to it, only to discover an empty unit. My disappointment was stemmed by the nearby Wakefield Hospice Shop, where at last I found something to tick off my list – Tears Of A Clown by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. I found Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now in a picture sleeve which reminded me of its appearance in the terrible film ‘Mannequin’, and a version of Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin’s It’s My Party that looked different to the one I already owned. I later discovered that this was the German release.

On leaving the shop I glanced along the street ahead of me and spotted a number of charity shops. The first was the Help the Aged store, where I bought Atomic Kitten’s Whole Again, their first Number One, bearing a sticker proudly declaring the girls to be the winner of the Smash Hits Best Newcomer of 2000 award.

The British Heart Foundation yielded my best haul of the day, eight 7” singles. Lena Martell’s One Day At A Time was one I didn’t remember, though I recognised it when I played it and knew instantly why I’d forgotten it in the first place. The same goes for Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You* by Glenn Medeiros, which I remembered only by name, and which had ‘Plug’ written on its sleeve, leading me to wonder if it had been previously owned by the ugly one from the Beano.

There were much better records here – Kelly Marie’s Feels Like I’m In Love is a Hi-NRG classic and Stand & Deliver by Adam & The Ants is a highlight from my youth. I found a copy of Turtle Power by Partners in Kryme, with a picture sleeve, which confirmed that the single I had found several months beforehand was not the correct version. That previous acquisition hadn’t included the fantastically weird B-side ‘Splinter's Tale’, a spoken word story in two parts about a rat with a ridiculous accent learning ninjitsu.

The One And Only by Chesney Hawkes was the 663rd Number One in 1991 and 15 years later it became the 500th original release to take its place in my collection. This seemed to me a fitting record for such a milestone – not, in the strictest sense, a One Hit Wonder, but nevertheless a product of its time.

By the time I left the shop the weather had suddenly turned for the worse again, this time testing my resolve with a snowstorm. I sprinted across the street to the Scope shop, which proved fruitless, but Arc gave me 2 CD singles, Breathless by the Corrs and Mr Oizo’s Flat Beat, complete with a warning on the sleeve: ‘Do Not Eat This Record’. If only all records carried such a warning, surely my quest would be much easier.

I pressed on through the snow, now falling much more lightly, but when I came to a belt shop and a vendor of theatrical supplies I realised I had reached the end of the beaten track. I returned to the station with appalling timing, having just missed a train by a couple of minutes, and waited for the next half hour in the cold wind.

* One of six Number Ones with ‘nothing’ in the title, four of which hit the top within the space of three years.


  • Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now - Starship and Nothing Compares 2 U - bald Irish bird

    By Anonymous Nik, at 3/25/2006 1:19 pm  

  • Yes. I see you cleverly spotted the clue earlier in the entry. Good work.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 3/25/2006 8:18 pm  

  • Well you mentioned it you git. Just discovered Skype and Firefox - why was I not informed?

    By Anonymous Nik, at 3/26/2006 1:10 pm  

  • I Owe You Nothing - Bros
    The Wards

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/26/2006 8:17 pm  

  • Yep.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 3/26/2006 10:16 pm  

  • When You Say Nothing At All - Ronan Keating.
    If only!
    Jo Ward.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2006 10:54 am  

  • The Wards are doing well. Just one to go here.

    I'm going to be appearing on BBC Radio Leeds to talk about all this Number One stuff. It's on Friday (31 March) at about 8.20am. I'll have to get up early and everything.

    If you wanna tune in to hear me make a fool of myself it's on 92.4 or 95.3 FM, or digital stuff or on the Interweb here (you'll need stupid RealPlayer):

    However I'd imagine there's every possibility that I might be 'bumped', as I believe they say in the world of broadcasting.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 3/27/2006 12:12 pm  

  • Wow! How exciting!

    Jo Ward

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/27/2006 1:09 pm  

  • Change of plan - been bumped forwards and now on today (Monday) around 4.00

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 3/27/2006 1:12 pm  

  • I believe Ronan Keating's number one effort did have its title changed at the last minute - the record company execs decided that there was less chance of a number one if it went by its original working title of "I like you best when you keep your big gob shut (now go and make me a cup of tea)".

    By Blogger Rish, at 3/27/2006 2:45 pm  

  • That's right Rish. I believe they also considered the alternative title "Shut it, bee-atch".

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 3/27/2006 3:00 pm  

  • A good interview Mr Williams - glad to hear the Geordie accent is still there. Have you been inundated by people trying to flog you records having being left with the impression that you have a large budget for this endeavour?

    I was thinking that the interviewer should look for a career outside radio, but then he saved the whole event by rounding off with a great "marvellous"

    By Anonymous Nik, at 3/30/2006 9:03 am  

  • No I haven't been offered even one record, though the photographer from the Evening Post reckons he might have a few he can send my way.

    I hope people haven't been fooled by Bob into thinking that either a) I have any money or b) any of these records are worth any money.

    It was a good "marvellous", wasn't it?

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 3/30/2006 1:30 pm  

  • All or Nothing by the Small Faces

    By Anonymous Dan Webb, at 4/02/2006 5:35 pm  

  • One point for Dan!

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 4/02/2006 5:41 pm  

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