There’s more to popmusic than seven-inch-diameter plastic discs with grooves cut in them; in fact, seven-inch-diameter plastic discs with grooves cut in them have mostly had very little to do with popmusic ever since the marketing people got involved, and other stuff – a page of words, for instance – can often be much more in the spirit of the thing. That’s why we included fanzines in our main sequence of catalogue numbers. And why SARAH 50 was a board game, Saropoly.
Saropoly came disguised as a 7″ single – albeit a 7″ single with a wooden dice tucked inside the plastic bag – but when you took it out and unfolded it, it looked a bit like the thing on the left. In other words, a bit like a map of Bristol… and that’s no surprise, as the gist of the game was that you had to pretend to be us for the day (it did take quite a while to play) and make, release and promote a new 7″ whilst being hindered by all the things that typically hindered us in our endeavours – mostly having too many bands and not enough parcel tape, it turns out. But it will all make more sense if you look at the instructions and a version of the board big enough to read, both of which you can find here:
It was all surprisingly realistic. And its success prompted us to start work on another board game for our hundredth release. This time it was based on Cluedo, and players had to guess which of the bands we’d murdered, in what venue, and by what means (e.g. was it Tramway at the Hull Adelphi with a dodgy amp lead and bucket of water?). And also, in an added twist that gave it an extra psychological dimension completely missing in Waddington’s original, what the mitigating circumstances had been. In the end, though, we decided it could all be used in evidence against us at some point, and closed the label down instead.
If you’re wondering why the blue text on the board is a bit fuzzy, by the way, that’s because we drew all the black bits on a piece of card and then Letrasetted the blue stuff onto a plastic overlay. This meant that, when Cliftonprint made the printing films, the two layers were slightly different distances from the camera, and also there were reflections from the two surfaces of the overlay. So, if anyone out there is considering a similar project, a small piece of advice: either (a) put your blue text on the back of the overlay (though I’m not quite sure how you’d do this with rub-down lettering) or (b) use a computer.
And if you’re wondering who some of the people referred to on the board are, then so are we – it was all a very long time ago. I think mostly they worked for Revolver Distribution or BBC Bristol. But, in its own way, it’s quite a nice historical document, e.g. the City Badger at the bus station isn’t a piece of whimsy on our part as local buses were run by Badgerline back then (there were also Beach Badgers on routes to Clevedon and Weston, and Roman Badgers in Bath, but that’s outside the scope of the game), and the bottom end of Cheltenham Road really was a grotty old dump and not the beardy craft-beer-and-cupcakes-on-a-unicycle bohemian utopia it is today. And there really was such a thing as Yugoslavia.
Below are some press cuttings and suchlike relating to all this.