Skip to main content

Palace of Dreams

 



 

South Molton’s cinema, The Savoy, stopped showing films in the 1970s, and after a long period of dereliction was finally totally demolished some twenty years ago.  The site lay bare for ten years before houses were built on it.


The Savoy

 

Just here it was

I’m sure a cinema

palace of dreams

I cannot see now

a name from romance

where people like us

were transported elsewhere

exotic exciting

real fears tears and laughs

white-toothed good-lookers

smooth shaven and smart

inaccessible beauties

to capture your heart

jerky cartoons

news from abroad

with fanfares and

announcements from

voices assured

local advertisements

both shaky and still

hands held in the dark

giggling children

nights to look forward

to Saturday mornings

meet on the steps

holding your money

queuing to see something

we won’t see again

I know it was here

though there’s nothing

to show where

the frames told the future

what was coming tonight

and tomorrow next week

did we wake up to find

it was all of it gone

disappeared like a promise

this palace of dreams?

 

  

Progressing into a new year brings thoughts about the future, and the past – what lies ahead, and what's gone forever.

Here's a good example of something that was once important which is now completely lost.

I don't mean to get sentimental. This small-town cinema was little more than an asbestos roofed barn, behind its attempt at an imposing facade.  It had stopped showing films before my time. And no doubt it had got pretty run-down before then.

Nonetheless, once upon a time it must have played a major role here with its ability to transport local people – quite a few hadn't travelled farther than Barnstaple – to some pretty exotic places, before the age of television (which must have been one of the main reasons for its disappearance).

Films are as powerful now as ever, and if anything even more widely enjoyed; cinemas have reinvented themselves. Ours is predominantly a visual culture. So we see (see!) newspapers turning into images on a screen (even if it's a tiny individual one), games taking the same route and all of us, adults and children alike, learning how to do things – as well as finding our entertainment –  by watching what are in effect little films on our own screens.

Maybe this is a, if not the, future for poetry too. Watching and hearing it makes it immediate and live, true to its origins. So this new year will see me for one working out how  my own poems may be presented in this medium – perhaps even offering this poem as a little film.

Watch this space!

So, looking back, looking forward, the South Molton Savoy (love the alliteration!) may have vanished – that's what happens to palaces of dreams – but welcome to videos, now so cheap, easy and accessible.

 All of which adds up to some pretty impressive advantages over the printed word, hard copy and books.

But I still think it's a shame that our very own Palace crumbled, then vanished...







 

Comments

  1. Reminded me of trips to the old Carlton Cinema in Okehampton. One never felt that warm in there. Not helped by the musty smelling furniture and tatty red curtains. Then the VHS player arrived and we had cinema nights at home.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A plague on all these houses

It's a great poem, Lowell's For the Union Dead. I only recently came across it - at least, that's what I thought - but it's been grunting (I choose the word advisedly) away in my head ever since, especially that fourth verse. Behind their cage, yellow dinosaur steam shovels were grunting as they cropped up tone of mush and grass to gouge their underworld garage. It took a little while for me to realise why. Before (I thought) I'd read it, I wrote a poem about the new housing estates springing up round our little town. I was thinking about the various creatures that had lived on the field that was to be covered with houses - sheep primarily - and then those that were to follow. The first were, well, a sort of dinosaur. Here's my second verse: At first it was the one-armed monsters, set free within their caged arena to trundle round, and gently paw the ground, then pile up mounds of earth accompanied by Lego men. I was pleased

My blog this month isn't a poem – nor even several...

  My blog this month isn't a poem – nor even several. No, this time it's a set of little films of poems. After sharing them with several of you, I apologise straight away if you've already seen them, but you might be interested to hear some thoughts on the matter. And if you don't want to hear me thinking about making films of poems, just ignore what follows and go straight to the YouTube link.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbwJYkDeGIs&list=PLbC1BOoALpN-xyuGJCIAqJjImAi1aAfrY   I hope you enjoy the films. And please tell me what you think! You may remember a couple of the poems appearing in past blogs, with me writing about the possible presentation of poetry in this way. Time was when poetry existed solely as the spoken or sung word – it took some time for it to be written down.  Now, for the most part, it exists and flourishes in both these forms. Recently, and refreshingly, it seems to have been recovering more of its original orality. Now we liv

The Signpost

Here’s a signpost – originally distinctive, being unique and handmade, and now even more so, with the evidence of ageing.   … numbers, distances, which way? While all signposts are interesting in their duty to inform, their presentation of choices and their simple declarative presence, I find this one special. It’s not just that it has much to say in terms of where you actually are, in which direction you might choose to go, how far your destination is (down to quarter mile accuracy) and even if your chosen method of transport is suitable. It’s also special in the simple elegance of its design, with the arms’ supports and the bevelled edges of the main post rising to that unexpected point. But the specialness goes further.  My friend James Ravilious took me there just at this time of year, over twenty years ago.  It was then upright and brilliant white, with crisp black letters. He certainly thought it was special, photographing it lovingly, in May 1988 ( Chawleigh Week Cross –