3. Fynd & the Handyside Arcade
The Arcade hustle
Here’s a cool little vid of the Handyside Arcade, from the 60’s. However, we didn’t rock up there until the 80’s..
From around 1981 we worked in the beautiful old Handyside Arcade (now flattened to make way for the Eldon Garden Mall). This was a great place, a genuine Victorian architectural gem, that had fallen on hard times & become a proper centre of youth culture.
This was where everybody who was not involved in the city’s rampant, middle of the roadness, hung out. Skinheads & Punks, totally whacked out from sniffing glue, Mods, Hippies, you name it…
Whether you were a full on, card carrying weirdo, or like us, just kids who would catch a beating if you ever went to the Bigg Market, then the Arcade is where you went & hung out all day, with your favourite cool people.
The Arcade was full of shops. There was Kard Bar that sold posters, badges, sew on patches & had Space Invader machines (which were brand new & thus mega, mega exciting at the time).
The coolest places were Frisco, which sold second hand gear from the USA & evolved over time into what’s now known as Flip & Fynd, which was a kind of little chain.
Fynd had a Hippy shop selling Afghan coats, second hand records & smoking paraphernalia, a Punk shop selling bondage stuff & a second hand Vintage clothing outlet too.
There were loads of other quirky little places in the Arcade, including a mad Pet Shop, a couple of Antique furniture / junk shops, a really dark Wine Bar called Denhoffer’s, a guy called Burman making guitar amps & other mad little run down shops.
That dude from the old Jazz Cafe on Pink Lane, the one with the Santa beard who died a while back – him & his chums would be in & out of there too. It was the kind of place where stuff went down & the place that taught us how to properly master the art of selling & how to run a shop.
We worked in all of the Fynd shops, but mainly the one that bought & sold the tunes. Working there got us into Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Joni Mitchell & a load of cool white artists we had never been exposed to before.
This was because we bought & sold people’s record collections & played music in the shop all day long.
Initially we got £3.00 a day (How mad is that..?) Over time, once they realised we had a natural talent for buying & selling that went up to £6.00 & then eventually £10.00.
We were switched on & worked really hard, as despite the rubbish money, it was a really cool job in a cool place, where fascinating people (& hippies) hung out.
This is Moondancer (AKA Robert Stott RIP, an Acade & Newcastle legend, proper Old Skool), who was a great chum of ours.
He was the epitome of a free thinking Hippie & we went on little, sort of holidays together (easy tiger…!!) & hung out a lot… He influenced us greatly back then.
That dude that was on Celeb BB this year, James Whale (Editor’s note: bit of a dick), used to do the Night Owls show on Metro Radio at the time & Moondancer would ring up all the time, off his rocker & chat nonsense to him.
You met some bliddy characters in that Arcade!