Hello from a Mad_Scouse_ex_Projectionist from the Tatler in Church St. Liverpool.
I have just read Dave Parrs blog relating to the Tatler, and would like to share a few memories with him, of when I worked there in 1963, and those of my wife, whom I met there, and who worked there until we married in 1965.
Jim Teasdale was Chief when I started, he interviewed me and gave me the job. Vera Taylor was second, and Denis Jones was third. The manager was a guy called Fred Lunt, who ended up on my most hated list, as I think he fancied my girlfriend, (He was old enough to be her Dad) and was jealous of me, so was always trying to find fault. Vera’s husband was a Radio Amateur which I later became (And still am) myself.
I wonder if Dave remembers the ‘Tidal Valve’ located in the staff loo in the basement ? As the basement was below sea level at full tide, it was supposed to shut at such times, only sometimes it didn’t, then it was a case of waiting till the tide turned, and all hands to the mop and bucket. As the ice cream fridges were at the front part of the basement, God knows what todays Public Health people would think of it. Still, the place only flooded to a depth of an inch or two, there was a sump so the water could be cleared fairly quickly, but it was still the Mersey, and we all know what that was like in the 60s. The boiler room had a ledge at the bottom of the doorway which stopped it from flooding, which was fortunate, as this was the lowest part of the building.
There were 2 ways to enter or leave the box (Projection Room) both involving a cast iron spiral staircase. Which brings me to the topic of the ghost. The usual entrance was through a door at the very top L/H corner of the circle (With your back to the screen) which led to the box via a spiral staircase. The other way was to go over the false roof, and down a spiral staircase which went from the very top of the building to the basement. The workshop was half way down this staircase. One day I was on with Jim, and doing a little job in the workshop. All of a sudden, I just had to get out of the place, and nothing was going to stop me. I was up the stairs, across the roof and into the staff room with the speed of many Antelopes. Jim came in, took one look, and asked what was up with me. Took a bit of prompting, but I eventually admitted how I had this feeling. He laughed and explained it was probably the ghost. Apparently, before WWII, there was a night watchman, who went missing, and after a couple of days he was found dead at the bottom of the staircase in the basement. It was presumed he had tripped, gone from top to bottom, and lain there till he was found. It was a while after I left to go to the Carleton at Tuebrook, that Barbara (My Wife) informed me that something had happened to Dennis of a similar nature, and frightened the living daylights out of him. No proof, but who knows ?
The old joke about standing on something soft and a ladies voice said thank you is another experience I had. As the show started early and ran all day, the public were in the hall from about 10:30 AM onwards. The door to the box opened outwards into the circle, the back row of seats being behind a low wooden barrier. One morning Vera was watching the reel, and I decided to go down to the Kiosk for some ciggies. Barged out of the door (Always good for a cracked kneecap or two) and went flying over some bodies on the floor behind the barrier, there was such a scuffle I can tell you. I won’t go into details as to what was going on, but I think you can guess.
I wonder if Dave can remember how Vera liked her tea ? Being at the bottom of the food chain, you made the tea. Now Vera had to have it made in a pot, no tea bags for her either, not only could she tell if you put the milk in first (Which was required) rather than second, she could tell which shop you had bought it at.
I remember doing an all nighter with Jim, and papering the Coffee Bar. I found where they kept the brown sugar, and helped myself. Jim caught me, and I expected a bollocking, all he said was “You bugger, I wondered where you were getting all that energy from, hand some over and don’t be hiding it.
From the Carleton, I moved to the Forum on Lime St. (Promotion to a grade 1 hall) where I was involved with the UK premier of ‘Robin and the Seven Hoods’ with all of the ‘Rat Pack’ in attendance. I also watched Liverpool FC bring the cup home from the roof with about 500 fans who found that there was scaffolding up the side of the building in the alley between the Forum and Blacklers store. I remember sitting in the staff room at Christmas and watching Blacklers Sputnick going round.
Then after getting married I had to leave the world of the Cinema, and earn enough money to pay the bills.
In those days, working in a Cinema was not just a job, it was a complete life experience, and one I would not have missed for the world. It was not about the films, it was about the people I worked with, the life style, the experiences, the general public. It was about putting on a show, and entertaining people, and it takes a special kind of person to do that.
I hope that you will be able to send this on to Dave Parr, as we missed each other by such a short time, and it would be nice to share experiences.