Trying to think about life and how God makes it full

Olde Worlde Cinema

Just had a week away in Suffolk with me dear wifey. Someone had lent us their cottage in the tiny village of Blythburgh, not far from Southwold. Its such a lovely part of the world, and the great thing about Suffolk (from a London perspective) is that there’s hardly anyone there! And its dark at night, so the stars are very visible on the night sky – fabulous.

We just did day trips around about, but I forgot to take my camera! But the highlight for us on this trip was the visit to Southwold’s Electric Picture Palace. What a gem of a little place. Its only been going about 5 years, only seats 66 people, and is done in the old-style ‘moving pictures’ way. The first thing you notice as you arrive, is being greeted with a rope line managed by a man in uniform who chats away pleasantly with the punters until the doors open. Inside is a tiny box office, sweet shop, and bar. There are pictures on the walls of old movie stars, and the decor is beautifully done in red and gold.

Once in the tiny auditorium, everyone takes their seats and before the movie begins, the Commissionaire takes the stage to welcome everyone, do some basic health and safety notices, introduces the movie, and entertains the crowd with some amusing quotes.

Its so completely different from the usual urban experience of going to the movies where consumers go to consume entertainment in a similar way that they might consume fast food. Instead, there’s the feeling of an event occuring that everyone is looking forward to, have dressed up for, and are prepared to really enjoy a night out.

Half way through the movie is interval, when the young usherettes take their place at the stage to sell ice-creams and sweets, the bar and shop are open, and everyone has a chat with their neighbours. And then the real surprise: up through the stage comes a young man seated at a mini-Wurlitzer organ to entertain the punters. Fantastic!

I could see the Commissionaire speaking with the usherette during interval, and as they were speaking they were looking at us. Then he came over and introduced himself and began by noticing that we were from Walthamstow. He was born just around the corner from where we live. He knew that because to go to the Palace, you have to join as a member (there being various levels of membership – we got the season m/ship at £2). At the end of interval, the usherettes bring around a silver bowl to collect all rubbish, and the movie continues.

The movie we saw was. “The Lion in Winter’, from 1968, starring Peter O’Toole, Katherine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, and Timothy Dalton. It’s a fabulous movie that we’d not seen before, and won 3 Academy Awards.

So, while Southwold is famed for its pier, its seaside-ness, and its brewery (Adnams produces some wonderful ales), when you go there next, think about going to the wonderful experience of a night at the Electric Picture Palace. But be sure to book, as its difficult to get tickets.


February 7, 2007 - Posted by | culture, Movies

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