Fellow blogger Derrick J. Knight’s recent post on his 1950s childhood memories of “The Heyday of the Local Cinema” has once again inspired me to write a blog post. This one on a much simpler theme than the Baltic State Evacuees 🙂
Growing up, there was just my brother and me (and Mum). My brother was nine years older. There was a time in his teens when he looked out for me, and sometimes took me places. Even at those tender ages, our personalities were quite different, and I imagine you can guess who was the more boisterous. Or, as he complained when I hit my teens – why do you always have to be so dramatic?
But this story belongs much earlier, when I was about eight, and he seventeen, just about to finish High School. He had taken me to the movies to see Kirk Douglas in Spartacus. Our Uncle Jack was a dead ringer for Kirk Douglas, right down to the dimple in the chin – but that is another story.
On this occasion, my brother was being cautious before we started the half hour walk home. In the cinema foyer he asked me if I wanted to “go somewhere”.
‘Yes!’ I said breathlessly, looking around the foyer for what exciting event was to be had next. ‘Where shall we go?’
‘Not us.’ He hissed in a low voice. ‘You.’
‘Where?’ I whispered back.
‘Over there.’ The hissing was furious now.
I followed the path of his finger. My brother was discomforted. I could tell he was fuming inside. In front of all the strangers milling in the foyer I was making him point out the toilet. I knew he wished a hole would open up and swallow him. My brother did not like to draw attention to himself.
We were half-way home before he spoke to me again.
I was feeling a little aggrieved by the time we reached home – after all – it was an innocent mistake on my part, I felt, and I’d been treated rather harshly in my mind. I hurried to tattle-tale on my brother.
‘Mum! Mum! He was picking his nose in the cinema!’ I said, pointing at my brother.
‘Was he?’ – Mum was slightly astounded.
‘Yes.’ I rushed on, anxious to make his punishment all the worse. ‘And – he was using his handkerchief!’
I was sure that this would upset Mum. What? More washing?
On the contrary, she seemed quite satisfied with this method. My plans to shelf my brother completely deflated, I slunk off to bed, to dream of Spartacus.
My brother bravely took me with him to the cinema on several other occasions, and sometimes to the circus when it was in town, but never again there after I screamed and screamed when the trainer put his head in the lion’s mouth.
Once my brother left high school, started work, and joined the Citizen Military Forces (CMF) – what is now the Army Reserve – he sloughed off some of that shyness. There’s a few stories there, that’s for sure.