Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Majestic

Last week, after a commercial job was unexpectedly cut short, I found myself at a loose end in Scunthorpe. 

Yes, my life really is just one long round of unbridled excitement! 

In an attempt to slough off the disappointment of the brief assignment I grabbed up my beloved Polaroid 670 SLR, my 5D and  set off round the town in search of something, anything to lift my mood. I found it almost immediately in the form of a fenced off empty lot that had obviously once been a cinema.

One wall was still standing and there were the remains of a mosaic floor at what must have been the entrance. Looking down I could just make out "The Majestic". 

I was strangely captivated as a torrent of thoughts hit me and I stood there like some kind of village idiot, staring seemingly at nothing, ignoring the the quizzical glances from motorists queuing at the corner of Mary Street and Oswald Road. All of us waiting for a changing light of one kind or another. 

The life of this building was there on the walls. The screening room "light-lock" still blacked out, the stalls sloping gently downwards, the circle more steeply. Years of different colour schemes poking through in various places.

Initially I was reminded of the area on West 42nd Street when they started to clear all the seedy skin-flick and strip joints. Their drab frontages torn down to reveal a kind of kinky dolls-house with mirrors and gaudily painted walls, tobacco stains at the top of each and bits of floors from different levels sticking out perilously. The whole scene soaked in a guilty voyeurism as though it's skirt had been blown over its waist by a passing subway train.

Then looking carefully at the detailing on the Majestic's exposed walls I was plunged back into my first trip to the cinema as a child. My Grandmother's joyous enthusiasm lending a sense of occasion as she pointed out all the plaster decorations of the stately Duke of York's Picturehouse. The intermission, hurtling down to the front in order to crowd round the usherette with the other children, clutching a few pennies of pocket money for sweets, it all rushed back.

Then of my early teenage years when trips to the pictures with friends represented the first taste of self-determination. Freedom, with stabilisers, if you wish.

I imagined that this cinema too had seen its share of wide eyed children with their grandparents, transfixed by the matinee shows. Its share of first dates and flickeringly lit back-row-mances. 

And now, here it was, surrounded by Herras fencing to prevent it being used as an illegal car-park.

I wonder if we will think of demolished multiplexes with similar nostalgia?


JR said...

I very much doubt it !

A majestic building in Scunthorpe sounds a bit of a paradox, but it is a shame to see our heritage ripped apart and replaced with characterless architecture.

Shit-I'm starting to sound like Prince Charles. Nice work though Justin-you are an artist :-)

Justin Sutcliffe said...

Thank you for not making the "C*** in Scunthorpe" joke!