When I was young (I’m not sure of my exact age, my memory for that kind of thing is terrible but this was before 1984 so under 13 years old) the Royal British Legion club, which was situated in our local ‘shopping centre’ (which we called The Top Shops) played films. I think it was at weekends. I recall them playing onto a screen with some kind of projector. My memory isn’t good enough to tell you why we were there (I was with at least my cousin Chris, that much I do remember), if it was just to see the films or for another reason, but I vividly remember seeing one film in particular.
Tarka the Otter.
I strongly remember not really being interested in the story of an otter, no matter how cute it might first appear to be. I was probably sulking, I was a really sulky kid. I know you find that hard to believe now when I’m unnaturally happy at all times, but it’s true! I sulked!
I remember seeing other films there, at the Royal British Legion, but I can’t for the life of me remember any of them except Tarka the Otter. I remember the smoke in the air and the stale smell of beer, the red vinyl covered seats with rips and foam showing through. This was the age of supermarkets that were the same size as todays news agents who charged for carrier bags and still labelled food products with 1/2p stickers, hardware stores that smelled of metal and wood and sold 3amp fuse wire next to spare broom handles, local grocers and butchers who sold far better quality products than those supermarkets but couldn’t compete on price, and real Stotties (from Greggs!) filled with bacon and peas pudding.
I don’t recall if the RBL was showing the movies at the same time as their cinema release somehow, or if they were playing videos on some kind of projector (which seems more likely) and if they had or needed a license of any kind. It’s just an odd memory of an odd time when places other than cinemas seemed to show films.