When I see an elephant fly


It is Majestic Wine now, but years ago, in its place on Balham High Road, sat the Balham Odeon.

If you went there now you’d be more likely to get Burgundy rather than Butterkist and Chianti rather than Kia-Ora.

I was never a regular there for Saturday Morning Pictures. I went twice and both times they were showing “Emil and the Detectives” so I assumed, having learned the plot and most of the dialogue, it was pointless attending much after that as this was clearly the only film they showed.  My mum was quite relieved as my clothes would end up being soaked courtesy of someone above me accidentally dropping their Jubblies on me.

In 1970 my dad took me to watch George C Scott as the eponymous hero in the Oscar award-winning film “Patton: Lust for glory”. The film had a profound effect on me as, if ever, as a teenager, I even got close to speaking to a girl, I’d be so pleased, I’d run off down Balham High Road, bowling imaginary leg-breaks and whistling the main theme.

In 1963 my mum took me to the Odeon to watch “The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh”. The film, based on the books published in 1915 by Russell Thorndike (Sybil’s brother), tell of a vicar by day and smuggler in 18th Century Kent coast by night.   In the 1963 film version Patrick McGoohan (“Dangerman” and “The Prisoner”) stars as the innocent vicar who, as evening comes and there is rum to be collected, dons a scarecrow mask.  If it had been used in the “Wizard of Oz” they’d have had to have made it X-rated.  It was scary and, to a particularly sensitive six-year-old, too much and, before I could break the film projector with my screaming, my mum took me out of the cinema.

The next time I went I didn’t last the 100% of the film. Dumbo, which my mother thought less violent, was the next thing I saw.  Well, saw up until Dumbo’s mum is trapped in the fire.  Again, before I could flood the Odeon with my tears, I was hastily removed.

I work in a business where I have to negotiate. People who know me and know of the Dumbo story realise that, if the negotiation isn’t going their way, all they have to do is say, “Run, Bambi, run.”

I assume Jubblies aren’t sixpence anymore?

One thought on “When I see an elephant fly

  1. Hi Mike
    Reminds me of a visit to the ‘Kinema in the woods’, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, with my Auntie Elsie (now 93 and still going strong) to watch Bambi.
    Missed quite a lot of the second half vomiting in the toilets, probably brought on by vast quantities of sweets and pop, mixed with a massive dose of despair at seeing Mother being shot.
    Happy days!

    Liked by 1 person

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