Its Easter 1964, and being Easter our dad has taken the unusual step of having a day off from work, strange but true, and he and my mother are discussing what to do on this fine bank holiday monday in order to educate and entertain their eight and six year old offspring.
We weren’t the sort of family who would pack up a wicker picnic basket and skip happily off to the hills where we’d spend all day long hiking the Dales singing “Valder-ree, Valder-raaaaa”, nor were we the sort of family who would work hard in an allotment all day coming home tired, smiling and happy with a basket full of home grown vegetables, in fact we weren’t the sort of family who gathered together very much at all really unless it was around the TV set and even then our mother would be absent in the kitchen trying in vain to stop the food from burning.
“Lets go to the pictures then” suggested my father for “the pictures” (or the cinema to those not versed in the vernacular) was my fathers favourite fall-back situation.
“Oh yes, lets” would have replied my mother feigning the posh suburban Stepford Wife accent so beloved of her two sister-in-laws who had moved to the same suburb years before us, my father would have stared at her for some time before asking “Have you been round our Doris’s again ?”
“I think Mary Poppins is on at the Odeon” would have suggested my mother, a safe bet for her eight and six year olds, Mary Poppins, a childrens book that for some bizarre reason I had already read, a girlie story about two posh London kids and their nanny, with added songs and the most incredible American cockney impersonator who ever lived.
“Whats that about ?” my father would have asked and my mother would have explained using the exact same words as I have just done in the previous paragraph, my father would have snorted and scoffed his response and left all of us in no doubt as to what he thought about going to see a girlie kiddies film at “the pictures” on his only day off that year – he didn’t think much of the idea, lets leave it at that.
“What about My Fair Lady then?” my mother would have suggested, it too had singing in it, it too was a safe bet for an eight and a six year old, if a little boring, I’ve seen it since, me and Ned would be sliding out of our cinema seats in the dark and crawling about under the rows of chairs within five minutes of the film starting.
“No” my father would have insisted, “we’re going to The Lounge to see “Zulu”, I’ve heard its good”
“Oh” my mother would have replied, “whats it about ?”
“Erm, its a musical” my father would have replied, not entirely a lie either as you can see in the clip above.
My father only ever liked films where lots of people died, war films and cowboy films were his favourite and if the body count wasn’t into the dozens by the end then “It wor a bit poor” would be the summary, my mother on the other hand hated to watch any violent act on film or TV and I can only imagine that she hid behind her handbag for the whole of the 140 minutes of “Zulu” that Easter bank holiday afternoon in The Lounge Cinema.
Ned and I loved it of course and if you are wondering how an eight and a six year old managed to get into an “A” rated film then if challenged my father would have simply bluffed his way through with a “Don’t be bloody ridiculous” although at the box office of The Lounge Cinema I doubt whether they even asked, in fact I suspect that our dad would have told our Ned to crouch down and sneak below the eye level of the woman in the box office so that he didn’t have to pay for him. our dad loved a bargain.
Elsewhere in 1964 the whole world was in black and white for colour had not yet been invented, colour not being available until 1968 of course as a result of the Apollo space program, how lucky we were to have the benefits of the Apollo space program and not have to even pay for it like the Americans did, why where would we be these days without colour in our lives, pens that write upside down and frying pans that don’t stick – of all of the inventions to have come from the Apollo space program its frying pans that don’t stick that have had the most influence on our population and for this we must thank those Apollo astronauts who would not forsake their fried breakfasts just because they happened to be in space thus forcing the scientists to invent a way that frying pans would not have to be scrubbed within an inch of their lives in order to make them serviceable the next morning, thus freeing up lots of time for more important things like flying to the moon.
Let us indulge ourselves, let us travel back in time to Easter 1964 where my mother and father are pondering on that cinema question again and lets, just for one moment change the outcome in favour of our mother, just for the one time for she never had the casting vote on what we did or where we went…
“What about My Fair Lady then ?” my mother would have suggested, “I hear its on at The Majestic in City Square”
“Oh yes mother indeed” Ned and I would chirp up, jumping up and down clapping our hands in glee, “pray father, take us to The Majestic to see “My Fair Lady”, oh please say you will dear father…”
“Why yes of course my children” he would have replied, patting our heads and kissing my mother lightly on the cheek, “why your mother always has the best ideas…”
And this is what we would have seen…