March 11th 1972

“pictures – and now for something completely different”

Ah, the Regal Cinema in Eastleigh. (Later to become Martine’s nightclub, and currently an abandoned building)

Colloquially known as “the fleapit”, it was a “proper” cinema (none of this multiplex nonsense) which we would now all cry out to save and protect from demolition were it still around.

I can remember the tiny foyer with just enough space to either head down the corridor to the stalls, or turn and head upstairs to the balcony seating.

Your tickets were bought – and taken at the same time (I never quite understood that?) – from what amounted to no more than a “hole in the wall” on the right hand side as you entered. A woman sat in a space no bigger than a broom closet dispensing your tickets and a small selection of sweets, crisps and bags of peanuts.

The seats inside the auditorium were finished in red velvet and slightly reclined as you sat in them. HUGE amounts of legroom, and smoking was allowed on the left hand side only. (Naturally without extractors, everybody got to smoke really). Before the show the in-house Christie organ would rise from the floor in front of the screen and someone would bang out a selection of classics. That’s the Regal Cinema organ shown in the photo! (When I say “classics” I don’t mean Sabbath or Led Zep)

I know the Regal was the first cinema I ever went to. It used to have a Saturday morning matinee performance – just for kids – which showed cartoons, documentary shorts, newsreels, football highlights and a ‘main film’, produced by the Children’s Film Foundation. This would be an hour or so long ‘drama’, usually about a group of youngsters (usually with their dog) overcoming something or other and eventually prevailing with smiles, back-slaps and looks of pride from the grown-ups. A list of the kind of nonsense we watched can be found here.

The place used to do great double bills – and I am sure some of them (totally bizarre choices twinned together) will feature in future diary entries, but probably not until around 1976 or 1977. I can clearly recall one double bill from those later years, because I still laugh at how utterly implausible a twinning it was. I refuse to give away the secret now though. Maybe because I am meanie. Maybe because neither film had yet been made in 1972.

Today, it appears I paid money to see Monty Python’s “and now for something completely different“, which was a movie montage of several sketches from the comedy troupe’s TV shows, including such gems as the “dead parrot sketch“, “the ministry of silly walks” and, of course, “the Spanish inquisition” (which no-one expects)

I was mad for Python. My parents wouldn’t always let me watch the TV series when it first aired – it probably seemed quite threatening to them? – but when I was a bit older I remember I would glue myself to the telly when the BBC ran the repeats.

I make no reference to going to see the film with anyone. Either a mate or a ‘bird’. I can’t imagine I went by myself. (That’s something I do now, mainly because ‘er indoors is not much of a movie buff and, anyway, I like to go mid-week in the early afternoon where I can usually get the entire ‘screen’ to myself and my popcorn.)

You would think that if this had been a date I might have mentioned it?

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2 Comments

Filed under 1972 Diary Entries

2 responses to “March 11th 1972

  1. kcneon

    The organ rose up from the stage? What a cool movie experience!

  2. John

    I used to be a projectionist at The Regal, Eastleigh in the sixties and remember the place very well. The foyer was exactly as you describe it. The organ was refurbished sometime in the early sixties after years of neglect. It was used regularly after that, especially for screenings of big feature films.

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