"still haunts my nostrils"

Liverpool Life In a surprising blast from the past, Meg Pickard reveals she worked the evening shift at the 051 cinema in Liverpool during the mid-90s, the place along with the Hyde Park in Leeds (also part of the tiny Robins Cinemas chain) where I fell in love with cinema:
"I got the job because I spent so much time there in the evenings. Since I was hanging out chatting to the manager before and after films anyway, eventually he asked if I wanted to work regular shifts there in exchange for free entry and a lift home at the end of the night. Of course I did!

So from then on, I just had to turn up an hour earlier than I would otherwise do for a screening, record the answerphone message that gave film times for the week ahead, make popcorn and mix up fizzy drinks (the particular combination of concentrated flavouring syrup and carbonated water the pumps used still haunts my nostrils) or sell tickets before the film, then show latecomers into the darkened screen with a little torch, before settling into the usher’s seat at the back to catch the majority of the movie."
Meg continues with some interesting talk of the suggestion box (which I remember) and how in a rudamentary way it demonstrates the importance of audience interaction, but this is a real surprise since I've admired her work for years and now it seems we may have met.  I even wonder now if she was the random stranger who sat next to me in a screen of Les Miserables because there were only two of us there at that point and didn't want to be alone for four hours.

The 051 was like that, a good sense of community, based on a love of film.  When the family went to see Brassed Off, the screening was also attended by Dean Sullivan (Brookside's Jimmy Corkhill) and an assembledge of his friends.  Only afterwards did anyone remark that a local celeb had been amongst us.  No one asked for his autography or inadvertantly spoilt his night out as I've seen happen elsewhere.

The shell of the cinema is still there above the 051 club.  I think Mark Kermode interviewed Terence Davies for The Culture Show in there when Of Time and the City was released.  The size of the auditorium gives it away.  Unless I'm simply being nostalgic and it's the ABC Cinema around the corner on Lime Street.  There are a lot of derelict cinemas in that area now.

I still have a programme from the 051 in that era which I've uploaded to flickr.  There's a rather wonderful note on the cover that they're connected with a web address at the bottom, a site which like the cinema has gone now.  But not the films.  I think it's about time I got around to seeing Beyond The Clouds.

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