Saturday, 19 November 2016

A Career In The Movies.....?

It was some time in 1952 when my cousin Pat Doran (mother Martha Constant) on a Sunday afternoon visit nonchalantly told me that a film company was about to make a movie on our very doorstep. She knew I’d be interested but being a year older than me and more sophisticated by far, she feigned disinterest herself and studied her pink nail varnish with an air of indifference. I could barely wait for her to leave before rushing two doors down York Road to inform my friend Molly of the momentous news. The film was to be called `The Long Memory’ and I’ve long since forgotten what the plot involved. What I do remember is that it starred John Mills and Elizabeth Sellars (what ever happened to them?) and Molly and I decided to take a day off school to watch some of the scenes that were shot in Queen Street, Gravesend and The High Street. We might pick up some important tips for the future! We were delirious with excitement because what both of us desired more than anything else at the time, was to become stars of the Big Screen although as Molly pointed out, she would infinitely prefer that her career took place in Hollywood. I wasn’t quite as fussy and had the Rank Organisation wished to sign me up I would have agreed on the spot. A day or two later we heard that more scenes were to be shot even closer to home at the bottom of Granby Road in Northfleet quite close to where Molly’s older sister Pam was living at the time. When we heard that the children from Lawn Road School were invited to watch this exciting event we were sick with envy because there was no chance whatsoever that our own school in Colyer Road would be included or even interested. Under the circumstances we felt almost obliged to absent ourselves for another day and I wrote the notes of explanation for both of us. We were both `indisposed’ as I recall – a word I had learned very recently and become rather fond of. The several hours of watching nothing much happen from a distance turned out to be more tedious than we had imagined and this was coupled with a certain amount of anxiety when we were spotted by a classmate’s mother who enquired curiously what on earth we were doing so far from the school gates on a Tuesday afternoon. Months later we went to see the film at the Wardona in Northfleet and found the plot to be more monotonous than we had imagined. However the scenes filmed on the riverside marshland, places we actually recognised, livened it up considerably. How many others remember the time when Gravesend and Northfleet made it onto the Silver Screen?

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