Ea­monn O’Neal

Stockport Times West - - WILDLIFE -

I’M prone to oc­ca­sion­ally com­ing over all nos­tal­gic and af­ter hear­ing a story on ra­dio about a cinema ‘ush­erette’ I trans­ported my­self to a time long ago...

It’s Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 5, 1963 and I’m with my dad out­side the ABC on Pala­tine Road in Northen­den.

It’s my 10th birth­day and in­stead of hav­ing a party I’m al­lowed to treat my pals to a trip to the pic­tures.

The main film is The Great Es­cape but be­fore Steve McQueen fires up his mo­tor­bike, we will take part in the Satur­day morn­ing rit­ual en­joyed by young­sters in ev­ery ABC pic­ture house around the coun­try be­cause we are the mi­nors of the ABC.

Of­fi­cially called ABC Mi­nors Chil­dren’s Mati­nee, this was in the days when go­ing to the pic­tures was more than just watch­ing a film.

It was about try­ing to sneak in through the back doors, bang­ing the seats to cre­ate a huge fog of dust and risk­ing teeth and gums on a frozen jubbly. But most of all it was about par­tic­i­pa­tion and when the red cur­tains mag­i­cally pulled them­selves open to re­veal the sil­ver screen, it all got started.

The mu­sic (the fa­mous cir­cus march Blaze Away) be­gan to blare, the lyrics ap­peared and the bounc­ing ball was ready to hop across the words to keep us all to­gether.

You’ll have to use your mem­ory or imag­i­na­tion for the mu­sic (although it went like this ‘De dee de dee dee dee dee deeeeeeeeeee de dee dee dee dee dee dee deeeee....’) and the fa­mous words were:

All that fun, plus a fan­tas­tic war film – and still change from a shilling.

In­ci­den­tally, that cinema opened on Novem­ber 22, 1934 and had a Wurl­itzer theatre or­gan which they’d shipped in from Amer­ica.

The fi­nal film to be shown be­fore it closed was Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury on Fe­bru­ary 23, 1974. The Grade II listed build­ing is now an As­sem­bly Hall for the Je­ho­vah’s Wit­nesses.

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