Down at the end of Charters Street
In a dim-lit part of town,
There stands the old Alhambra and
They’re going to pull it down.
We warned them up at the council, but
They said it’s a waste of space,
There’s not been a film for twenty years
Since the Carol Ransome case.
Carol was found in a pool of blood
By the curtains, up on the stage,
Somebody took a knife to her
In a crazed, death-dealing rage,
They never discovered just who it was
But the cinema closed right down,
Nobody wanted to go again
In this hick, one hotel town.
That was the end of our childhood fun
Our own theatre of dreams,
No more Saturday Matinées
Or milk shakes or ice creams,
Nothing to do in this one horse town
But to chase the girls in the park,
And get some serious kissing done
When the day was getting dark.
So Al and Joe and Mary Ann
And me, I must admit,
Broke on into the cinema
And found ourselves in the pit,
Right in front of the dusty stage
Where the curtains hung in shreds,
Barely hiding the giant screen
That was covered in old cobwebs.
We’d played in there for an hour or so
Running between the rows,
Making the Hammond ***** screech
Like a fat man touching his toes,
When suddenly there was a swishing sound
And the curtains began to part,
And something flickered up on the screen
As if it was going to start.
We stood stock still and we held our breath
When the speakers grumbled and groaned,
‘It looks like we’ve got an audience!’
A voice on the speakers moaned.
Then faces peered from the ancient screen
From the days of black and white,
But there wasn’t a single projection beam
From the room where it used to light.
A shimmering glow from the screen fell on
The first few rows of seats,
And one dimensional girls appeared
With ice creams and with treats,
The figures spilled from the silver screen
And onto the wooden stage,
Dracula, framed in black and white
And Frankenstein in a rage.
We were all of us petrified by blood
And Al was thinking to run,
But ‘Don’t you move!’ said an ugly hood
On the screen, and pointing a gun.
They made us sit in the second row
And paraded their long-gone fame,
Bela Lugosi’s fangs and cloak
And the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Then as they faded a woman walked
From the wings, and out on the stage,
And a man that we knew as Grocer George
Flew suddenly into a rage.
He knifed the woman a dozen times
And he beat her down to the floor,
And over the screams of Mary Ann
We made a break for the door.
The screen went dark and the stage was bare
And the curtains hung like shrouds,
We said that we’d never go back in there
As we lay, looked up at the clouds,
But we each went in to the grocery store
And we whispered, ‘Carol’s back!’
‘We know what you did,’ said Mary Ann
And George’s eyes went black.
He chased us out of his grocery
And he closed the store for good,
Then policeman Andy found him hanging
Down in the Maple wood.
They’d better not take the Alhambra down
Or the ghosts of the silver screen,
Will all get out, and they’ll roam about
Without a theatre of dreams!
David Lewis Paget