In the beginning of years, when the world was so new and all, a trip to the pictures gave you much, much more than a main feature.
Not being quite as old as my class imagine, I don’t personally remember cinema-organists; although ActorLaddie had a great-uncle who, rather romantically, met his wife when they were both playing in the pit orchestra for a silent movie.
All I can offer in comparison is a very close relative who met her husband while bunking into a cinema. She was, apparently, the designated chump who paid for a ticket and then opened the back door for the others. She denies it now, of course, and claims they met in a coffee bar. But then she would, wouldn’t she?
I do, however, remember when the price of a cinema ticket would get you two films. On a good night, both were worth seeing: my first ever date was to see The Graduate with Midnight Cowboy. Less impressively, the day our Finals finished, Braveheart and I rewarded ourselves with The Sweeney 2 which was supported by the sadly over-looked classic Holiday on the Buses.
ActorLaddie and I sat through many B features when we were courting but one that has stayed with us was a documentary about bears. The film shows a mother brown bear with her two cubs wandering around doing cute bear stuff. Then, when the cubs are two years old, the mother bear leads them to a tree and they all climb up. The mother then excuses herself and climbs down again. Off she goes and the cubs wait. And wait. And wait. She never comes back. Eventually the cubs realise this, climb down the trees and start stealing their own picnic baskets.
It seemed to us, at the time, heartless. Now we realise that this was one smarter-than-the-average bear. By making the cubs homeless, they had to find a place of their own. Which they did.
Alas, as a model for encouraging human off-spring to fly the nest, this would never catch on. Well, not in London, at least. The trees of Highgate Wood, Clapham Common and even Finsbury Park would be over-flowing with youngsters ready to come down and set up their own dens if only they could find dens to set up. But London is den-less. And, if Haringey Council have their way, there could soon be another 1,500 kids crouching in the canopies, including our own InfantPhenomenon and my niece Ezza.
For about three years now, InfantPhenomenon has been living in a converted warehouse in Tottenham.
In essence, there are a number of warehouses which were used for clothing when we still had a manufacturing industry. Then they stood empty. Then various chaps bought them up and made them into residences. They are a bit like grown-up student accommodation: an enormous communal space and kitchen surrounded by individual bedrooms. Many of the people living there work in creative fields so often have contained within the warehouse their own studio spaces: puppet-makers, photographers, designers.
The attraction of warehouse living is, as I understand it, partly being part of an interesting community. But above all, it’s available and affordable. Not cheap – from £600 a month all-in for a single room and more if you aspire to a window. But for London, do-able.
Last month, Haringey Council announced plans to evict the residents. The ins and outs of it are in an article here.
In essence, it appears that the council have just woken up to the fact that the warehouses are being used for residences and not industry. Despite the fact that, for a decade, they have been emptying the bins and collecting the council tax. They say they want the units to be available for industry.
And where are young Londoners to live? There is no council accommodation. Social housing is limited to homeless families. And only those with wealthy parents could ever garner enough deposit to buy. The situation is impossible.
Last summer, ActorLaddie and I moved from our four bedroom house to this bungalow. In January, YoungLochinvar and Ms Tintin came back to live with us because the tiny room they were renting for £600 a month had developed mould and the light fitments gave them electric shocks. No problem – the piano is now in the hall and our bedroom has an ensuite study.
If Haringey Council have their way, it could get even cosier here. Luckily, our neighbours have many trees. I’m sure they could spare a branch or two for our cubs.
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