Tuesday, 14 September 2010

St Albans Odyssey - film of meeting 12 September

Thanks to Ian Cundell you can watch this excellent little movie catching the moment when the new name was announced.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

St Albans Odyssey - Melbourne-Cooper journey

I'm sure Arthur Melbourne-Cooper would have been happy with the new name - maybe a little sorry not to see his Alpha remembered but O.K. about the heroic ambitions of this new era. Today's walk to rediscover sites connected with him was very well taken up - pics here of it at various stages including the station, Alma Road (to admire BFI plaque on Telford Court) and London Road...

St Albans Odyssey

Exploiting the right of bloggers to quote what they like here's the text of Cavafy's poem Ithaka for anyone who's not sure what the original Odyssey was about.....no apologies for grabbing the chance to get a poem in - only one in the whole blog so far....


As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)

St Albans Odyssey

...so it's the Odyssey. A good name and fitting choice, because we've certainly been on a journey with this building; & let's hope we've now begun on one of its calmer stages.

The photos above are of the newly christened cinema looking, it has to be said, much the same as it always does, with some of the queues for today's meeting - in London Road, and in the foyer, where it was standing room only in the end.

Also one of Marian Hammant, who did so much to save the building from development as flats, being interviewed for the Review

Friday, 10 September 2010

St Albans Odeon - some details

These are my favourite fragments:

At some point this radiator in the foyer was painted a bright green. There is also (see next section) green plasterwork in the foyer. We know the seats in the Cromie interior were green - so was there a green theme going on? And ...so...what about the shamrock grilles in the auditorium. Did the Capitol have an Irish design link?

The red lights in the auditorium are nice - maybe not from the 30's but pretty & it's good to see they've hung on.

The curly end to the stair rail is great...

Vintage switches and electrical bits found under 70's boarding in the foyer

The plasterwork in the store room is wonderful - big Californian-esqe swirls - click to see more clearly....

St Albans Odeon - the auditorium

As all St Albans citizens of a certain age know this is a gracious and lovely space....and quite a lot of original bits and pieces have survived - the radiators, now very chic, got through the 60's & 70's unscathed. The lovely shamrock ceiling grilles are still perfect, the door up to the projection box is still there, and so is the staircase on the left ....everyone will remember coming up those stairs, clutching your ticket and starting to trip in the dark till your eyes got used to it....

St Albans Odeon - the 30's plasterwork

One of the most interesting things about the restoration of the Odeon is the survival of the plasterwork from its life as the Capitol in the 30's. There are several types of plasterwork pattern - those above are from the foyer and the main auditorium. No doubt this was seen as a cheap and modest form of decoration in its day...but is anything more evocative now of the heyday of provicial cinema? Just a close look at a square foot of this work and it all sweeps over you, the enchanted atmosphere, the excitement, the otherwordliness of it all...

St Albans Odeon (for 2 more days) - work going on

Mick, Darren and comrades here today working on more clearance to have building ready for Sunday. It feels very close to being a cinema - no smell of damp/age. Disappointingly none of them have seen or heard any sign of the ghost who is rumoured to haunt the main screen....

if there is a ghost there's only one person it can be....and I'd guess he'll only start taking an interest again when the projector is whirring and even then only to keep a curious professional eye on the advances in cinema technology since his day...

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Name will be revealed 12 September

...notice for Sunday's meeting at which we'll learn what the Odeon's new name is to be. And after that there will be the appearance of the cinema's own dedicated web site and we will have a new reliable source of information on what is going on. Not that this blog will gracefully disappear. Oh no. No effort will be spared to bring you a record of the work as it goes on...for example look at this one of the back of the building....a comparison with earlier pix will show how things have changed...the cats have gone for a start as presumably the mice & rats are packing up & leaving...