When the call came in for a structural engineer to attend a fire damaged building in Denny I was pretty certain I knew what had gone up in flames. An hour earlier I had been listening to the early morning news when I heard on the traffic report that Glasgow Road in Denny was shut from Denny Cross to Dryburgh Avenue. As soon as the caller said Denny I‘d pieced it together. It was all to do with probability. A derelict Cinema…a fire damaged building…a road closed…it all added up.
Fortunately this wasn’t my field of expertise and I could sit this one out. That was the good news. From a personal point of view there was a sense of loss as yet another tangible relic of my past was permanently erased from the world that is now.
Memories came flooding back. Pre high school Saturday mornings spent in the musty darkness. The soft whirring of ancient projectors, the crackling of well used cinematic film and the wonder of Roy Rogers…Laurel and Hardy…Mickey Mouse, antiquated even by early 1960’s standards but still able to hold an open mouthed audience of smelly urchins. Stern faced Stasi with flickering torches marching away dissident voices who dared protest that they had the right to breath…and, heaven forbid, laugh. It didn’t matter if the victim was your best friend, if you dared take your eyes from the screen you too could be dragged off never to be seen again…well, at least for an hour or so.
By the late 60’s the cinema was a cinema no longer. The gods of the “silver screen” had been usurped by another somewhat less cultural deity. Reels of film were piled high and burned. Families and intellectuals were cast from the temple. In a sea of tight perms and hairspray, screeching harpies flooded the building to worship the new god…Bingo. The golden age of civilisation had ended and the long decline had begun.
photo courtesy of Alan Bunting (if only he knew about it)