Covid Special: June No.2 2020

Thanks from the Editor

I should like to thank Andrew Banfield for the item entitled “We’ll meet again” detailing his earliest recollections of the cinema. I believe what he saw was a War Office cine film which was the predecessor of the radio programme “two way family favourites” with Cliff Michelmore and his wife Jean Metcalf. I am sure you can hear the music now that accompanied “love from lance corporal Wilkins at B.F.P.O.59 Berlin to all at number 12 Gasworks road Middlesbrough”.

Please email any Newsletter items or requests etc. to vincent@fosdike.com


“We’ll Meet again” by Andrew Banfield

In 2005, on the 60th anniversary of VE day my mother, who has since died, was talking about the war and VE day. She spoke about the story that I have outlined below. She and I were surprised that some of the detail had remained with me although I was very young at the time. I was probably only 3 or 4 years old.

Sometime in late 1945 or early 1946 I was told that we were going to the pictures. I was very excited and looked forward to it. Because of the ages of my brother and sister only I was going with my parents. I had not been before, I think, so this was to be a special treat. I remember going on the tram. It must have been a Saturday or Sunday as my father was with us. The journey seemed endless. We went all the way across South London to I think, the Elephant and Castle in South London. On arrival we went into a large cinema. It seemed to me to be gigantic. It was packed, we found our seats in the middle of a row and waited. I fidgeted. I think my mother gave me a sandwich from her handbag to keep me quiet.

Anyway, after a long wait music sounded and the screen lit up. It seemed the only film was of soldiers. It was in black and white. They were in shirts and very baggy shorts. Each gave a brief greeting to family and friends. We waited for what seemed forever and then my mother said to me. “Look Andrew there is your Uncle Cyril”. He was my father’s younger brother. I remember he had on a dramatic Australian Bush hat, although I discovered later he was only in the Pay Corps! All he said, roughly, was as follows. “Hallo Mary, Eric and the children, I hope you are all well. We all are looking forward to coming home soon”. I suppose it was like those printed forms they gave troops in P.O.W. camps with just tick box options, but without the coming home option!

And that was it. I was expecting cowboys or Laurel and Hardy! After this we then had to wait while the rest of the film ran on with similar greetings from other unsung heroes. It seemed like forever. Eventually we got up, went to front of the cinema in the late afternoon, getting dark and raining and took the long trek home by tram. And that was my first visit to the cinema.


Mind the Doors part 2 (continued from June No.1 issue) by Vincent Fosdike

Catch-up: On the Way to Germany, Vincent and Hakima (who had the passports, tickets and the only mobile between them) got separated at Victoria. The Tannoy wasn’t working and the staff suggested that Vincent take the tube to Green Park. Now read on . . .

So laden with luggage I took their advice, only one stop but an awful lot of degrees of spatial freedom. Time was really flying now, and it looked like we might not be! At Green Park another attendant who was equally well versed in this problem, directed me to the control room in the upper concourse. I was actually able to run a bit up the escalator despite the gravitational effect of my case and bag. Fortunately, the glass room covered in electronic maps with little dots crawling along them was not too difficult to access despite it being locked. A helpful controller opened up and listened to my desperate plight.

Would you believe it? The Tannoy was not working there either! Despair began to set in. I asked if they could let me use a phone. I have Hakima’s number in my mobile but then I did not have the mobile! However, I did remember (no not the number, I can’t do long mobile numbers), that I had written it on the luggage labels. Tick Tock goes the clock now things are really getting tight. Fortunately, the label had not become detached in the hurly burly of my rush up the escalator. JOY! She heard the ring tone in the midst of the thronging crowd. I gave my location. Within minutes she arrived with Peter at the control centre and we were off like the wind to the Piccadilly Line.

As we rattled along the sequence of events emerged. After it became clear that we had got separated Hakima sought me in the public toilets even going into the gents area to call out through the cubicle doors! No luck so she called Peter who was just leaving his office and he joined her within a very few minutes, exerting a calming influence. By that time I was probably at Green Park receiving advice that, “when this happens most people carry on to the airport with a view to meeting up at the gate”, a bit of a last chance saloon but I guess the only possible salvation. It is interesting that the London Underground staff were so familiar with this little bit of fun. Maybe, just Maybe, they should get the Tannoy system fixed, perhaps it would have helped, or would it have spoiled their entertainment? Still all the same they did their best. The trip was not only a first and significant inter family meeting but encompassed Christmas, so was not to be missed. I wonder if there would have been any more Easy Jet flights that day. Peter had booked a car at the Airport as it was a two hour drive to our hosts’house, mainly autobahn, so not easy to cover by other means and we might have lost the car as well! Anyway, we did just make it and we did not have to wait long at check in, and baggage handling etc. as we were the last “just made it” arrivals!

I don’t normally do morals of stories but by way of substitution I think the practical tip to be offered here is that a phone number on a label can be more than useful as there are plenty of phones everywhere, but they are totally useless without the number.

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