Those terraces, who remembers them now

under blackening skies, cobbles in rain

the scurrying on pavements

sagging tarpaulins on market stalls

cats ferrying spilt waste in gutters?


Who remembers those railway yards,

spirals of lazy steam behind high walls

the billow and slump of washing lines

like fingers crossed for a future,

poster boards pressed to empty sites

wild with eager claims?


The cinemas, caverns of plush and exotica,

who remembers them

where brylcreem caught dimmed lights

on black and white nights,

the bouffants, the quiffs?


Reel streets with dance halls, palaces of pretence

who remembers them now,

and who remembers us, the rememberers?


(Ref: Reel Streets film archive website.)




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Fri 22nd Oct 2021 16:22

Thanks for throwing that extra light on the poem Jennifer. All true, and we weren't so precious then! I remember one film called the House on Haunted Hill, which involved a system of wires over the auditorium onto which a luminous skeleton was jerkily released in an attempt to shock on its puppet journey to the back of the cinema. Cobbles are so scarce now aren't they.

Mark, I regret I'm not familiar with any of those venues, but I worked for the BBC and often visited their recording sites, the Palace near Charing X and the Camden where the Goon Show was recorded, among others. Fantastic variety in all things then. The bombing raids of course were mainly centred on industrial areas, but many doodlebugs hit random targets, nevertheless there were many centres that were decimated. Often the cinemas and theatres went through post war incarnations, becoming carpet warehouses for example.


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M.C. Newberry

Thu 21st Oct 2021 17:59

The recording venue: "All Saints, Tooting" will be found on many
classical CDs. My own personal visits include St. James in Piccadilly, St. Johns in Waterloo, not too far from the main station entrance,.and (just before Covid arrived) St. Barnabas in W.5. -
the "home" of the excellent pro-am Ealing Symphony Orchestra.
It's something of a miracle that so many survived the onslaught of WW2 Nazi bombing. Ditto the cinemas from those days.
Bringing to mind a play on words that have an apt connection:
For what we have inherited, may the Lord make us truly grateful!

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jennifer Malden

Thu 21st Oct 2021 16:57

Really enjoyed this one! So evocative, and loved the icecream smear note. People definitely aged more quickly in those days I think. We weren't so conscious of diet and keeping reasonably fit. The cinemas were more comfortable though, you could have a snack at the cafè, and the usherettes' trays were full of high calorie goodies. The greasy shine of cobbles in rain and the washinglines bring it all back too.


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Thu 21st Oct 2021 16:09

Hi Mark. You make a very good point about accoustics, the sensitivity to unamplified instruments and voices is a major benefit, a good example would be the Kings College Cambridge choir in situ. There can be problems with amplified sounds often though, as I discovered in the Natural History Museum. Thanks for raising the point!


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M.C. Newberry

Wed 20th Oct 2021 01:40

Ray - your observations about cinema/music venues had me
thinking of the use of various churches for recording classical
music CDs - very successfully. I've also attended orchestral concerts at these venues across London. They certainly knew
something about acoustics in the design and building process,
no doubt keenly aware of the need for a voice and music (choir and/or organ) to "project" to the furthermost extent of the
interior. .

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Mon 18th Oct 2021 14:17

Thank you Mark for all that. Highly interesting. I was gigging at a few Top Rank ex cinemas and theatres in the 70s; as well as poky flea pits there were massive centres of entertainment, I remember the Rainbow room, previously Finsbury Park Empire a pop music venue and went there when it was a cinema - mock byzantine galleries I recall! The regal near Edmonton which was vast as well, on the north circular. There was always an echo to the soundtracks.

Senior moments! Ray

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M.C. Newberry

Mon 18th Oct 2021 13:40

Ray, I recall that the name "Essoldo" was a mix of the first letters
of two Jewish brothers behind that cinema venture, The cinema
was just on the Limehouse side of the entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel and the way under the Thames to Kent. Surely long gone
now, along with much else along the main road through Poplar
to Canning Town and beyond.

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Sun 17th Oct 2021 20:04

Thanks guys, I was trying to paint that dismal picture; interestingly I am a bit of an addict to watching such stuff now. Mark, the sixties still offered much of the pre war scenes as you say. I love that comment about the ice cream! Could it have been a disgruntled usherette though? Essoldo is one of those magic names from the time.

Stephen, it does seem that people aged quicker in those days, and the clothes didn't help. My father always wore a trilby in the fifties.

Thanks for looking in Holden !

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Stephen Gospage

Sun 17th Oct 2021 17:12

Thanks, Ray. Interesting site and poem. I love the image of cats in gutters. In many such films, it always looks dark and everyone seems to be at least middle-aged. 'And her only 31..'

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M.C. Newberry

Sun 17th Oct 2021 15:41

Great stuff, Ray. Brings back my 1960s days in the docklands
of East London. Especially one afternoon at the Poplar Essoldo
cinema watching the superb opening credit sequence (by Saul
Bass) of "The Big Country" and seeing that stage coach and
its team galloping across the panoramic Californian vista - and
a very substantial widescreen ice-cream smear, no doubt
delivered by some dissatisfied yob during a previous cinematic offering!

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