It is many years since I visited the cinema during the daytime, possibly not since my teens. Emerging from the gloom of the colonnaded arbour that is Running Hill in leaf bearing a steady drip of rain from the now adequately dressed branches of the trees, the dazzle of the new road markings at Seamans Corner reminded me of the blinking reaction on leaving the darkness required for viewing the silver screen and encountering the sunshine of London streets. There must have been some bright days in the 1950s. Many of the cinemas in their heyday had doors near the gents marked ‘Push Bar To Open’. This was how you got out. It was also worth sussing out before you entered, because if someone had not closed it properly you were in in a flash. I’m not much of a cinemagoer now, and receive enough pocket money, so I wouldn’t know if this method of ingress and egress still exists.
As I returned up the hill, having, appropriately for today, walked ‘The Splash’ ford loop, I was reminded of the times there were problems with the film projectors in my youth. Sometimes the reel just snapped, sometimes it needed replacing. A grainy crackling would be heard and the screen go blank. It was just like the splattering of the rain on the canopy above my head.
When we lost the picture, there would be catcalls and we would all look up at the projectionist’s window. Through the fanned out beam from his equipment threaded wreaths of cigarette smoke, just like the swirling spray obscuring the vehicles in front of us on the M27 during today’s later drive to Hedge End to buy Jackie’s birthday present of bird-watching binoculars.
16th April 2009 was a very different day in Bergerac than it has been this year either in Hampshire or Aquitaine. This was the day I bought my French raincoat. It’s a pity it wasn’t a trench coat. Wouldn’t that have rolled off the tongue? The purchase was recorded on 24th. Elizabeth was there, with Chris and Frances, to witness the event. She can even prove it, for she took photograph number 19 in the ‘through the ages’ series, after the thunder storm that made it necessary. She had been there, moments earlier, in the glowing sunshine smiling down on Bergerac old town, as I walked away from the pigeons towards the glorious flower displays which she subsequently immortalised. Then, my maroon velvet jacket sufficed.
In order to do this post justice, Elizabeth sent me her photographs by e-mail. Nothing, of course goes smoothly on our broadband, so once again BT rejected my password and refused to deliver this evening’s illustrations. I had my routine conversation with the technician who took over my screen and solved the problem. Given that I was rather less than patient, his tolerance was greatly to be commended.
Jackie provided a liver, bacon, and sausage casserole with a plentiful variety of well-timed vegetables followed by rice pudding, for our dinner tonight. Lovely grub. I drank some Carta Roja gran reserva 2005. I’ll be sorry when Sainsbury’s stop selling that at half price.