Cliff Ulph – The Astor

As a youngster in the late forties on our regular trip to the Saturday matinee at the Wellfield in Springburn, (the Astor but nobody called it that), the highlight for me was the serial. The opening title sequence had what may have been the American fifth fleet, in line of battle, steaming towards the camera at full speed. The leading ship's prow creating a huge bow wave central on the screen. From the soundtrack, a rousing brass band version of Anchors Aweigh with every child in the audience stamping both feet in time, so much so you could feel the floor of the auditorium bouncing to the beat. Then came what I looked forward to most, the manager, a Mr Foster, would pop up in the centre of the the screen with the bow wave of the projected warship looking like gigantic plumes on either side of his head. In his grey suit and shock of wild grey hair he appeared to have magically become part of the film. Waving frantically he signalled to the projectionist and the film would fade from the screen the soundtrack slowing down and coming to a juddering halt. Then in the murky gloom of the poorly lit cinema we could hear Mr Foster shouting angrily (the same thing every week) "You'll bring the whole bloody place down on our heads if you don't stop stamping your feet!" The stamping would then come to a slow but reluctant halt, as soon as the film restarted and Anchors Aweigh resumed, inevitably, the stamping would start again and continue until the title music ended. I can't remember anything about the serial, but for me, at eight or nine years old, Mr Foster up there with the warships, the stamping to Anchors Aweigh, the mix of reality with illusion on the screen, that was the most exciting and memorable part of 'going to the pictures' on a Saturday afternoon. The Wellfield never did come down about us (it burned down in 1968).