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SATURDAY MATINEE
By Margaret Renwick

 

At last! No more school and Saturday afternoon pictures. But first go for the messages. Along to the fish shop for a pound of cats pieces wrapped in smelly soggy newspaper. They smelt even worse when boiled for the cats but they were better than going to the butchers and queuing next to the dead sheep and pigs dripping blood on the sawdust covered floor. You could buy what were called lights which were beast's lungs full of blood and slimy or hearts and other mysterious disgusting things. All to be boiled for hours until the smell drove the cats wild.

Next was your dinner and as a change from fish and chips, pies and peas were a treat. The shop sold both, take your own china bowl to be filled with hot peas and gravy, cover with a plate and balance the wrapped pies on the top to keep warm. carried carefully home in a string bag avoiding rival kids in the next street who would love a chance to chase you with such a load.

After dinner, the pictures a steady stream of motley assorted kids made their noisy way to the picture house. To fight and shout and jostle in a ragged queue which snaked around into the back lane. It was 6d to get in and 6d for sweets, I was an only child and consequently spoilt. I can remember taking clean jam jars to gain admission. The sweetie shop on the corner packed with big spenders clutching their pennies. Rhubarb rock, banana toffee, sherbet crystals with a liquorice dab. Lumps of twig called liquorice root which chewed down to wet string.

At last the doors swung open and the hordes descended, nerves of steel were required to be an usherette on a matinee. Downstairs was 3d, called the flea pit, you sat on hard wooden forms packed tightly cheek to cheek by Hitlers deputy who attempted to keep order. He was hated and feared by all who tormented him without mercy. He got his own back when the lights went down by marching around with a flit gun spraying the noisier and scruffiest kids.

Upstairs on the plush seats with arms it was 6d. I always had to go there as I was not allowed to mix with the hoi polloi in the rough end, but they always seemed to have more fun and the really popular kids who you were not allowed to play with always went down stairs. The lights went down, the screen lit up and the noise settled down to a low hum of excitement and the rustle of sweetie papers.

A kids movie lassie or the three stooges, a cartoon or two and then the serial. Superman in woolly tights. You could see the string that held his cloak up. The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Kimo Sabe! A strange partnership but not to our innocent eyes. Johnny Weismuller as Tarzan brought out a chorus of jungle calls and shrieks of laughter as Cheetah showed his bum causing Hitlers deputy to go berserk with the flit gun.

At last, leaving the heroine hanging from her proverbial cliff to be miraculously rescued next week we exploded out in to the fresh air leaving behind an atmosphere that only several hundred non too clean children packed together for two hours could create. A bit like a bad day at the zoo! Fighting flying galloping, chasing all the way home. Sick with excitement and too many sweets. Another glorious Saturday over..

 

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