A Nottingham Lad’s True Tales of Woe – Part Seven

In this part of his True Tales of Woe,  Inchcock remembers from 1950’s, as a young lad, when his Dad would take him to the Empire Theatre in Nottingham, and used to made him sit and watch what bit he could see over the front of the stalls up in the 9d (3¼p) seats in the Gods, with many wonderful acts performing things he was not the slightest bit interested in, couldn’t hear, or understand.

However this particular trip had a profound effect on him.


The Trip to the Nottingham Empire Theatre

(Not to be missed these weren’t… I tried, oh how I tried…)

After Dad had taken his usual hour and a half (minimum) to get himself ready, we would set off on the long walk to the Empire (he had to take care, cut-throat razor and all that), avoiding the horse droppings that had not been collected for peoples allotments (no gardens where I was dragged up), and onto the next street, under the railway bridge past the gasometers, then the Duke of Norfolk pub where the murder of Muriel Harbuckle took place on 1949, and around the corner past the best chip shop in the area, The Friary.  Where Dad would refuse me  chips on a regular basis. (Well, they were 2 ½ d [about 1p now, I think?] a bag!)

Time permitting, this is where I would lose him as he would disappear into the Castle Inn, reappear with a bag of Smiths Crisps, and sometimes a bottle of lemonade for me as I loitered in on various doorsteps nearby waiting, he’d disappear back into the Castle Inn, and reappear yet again, always with the words (or similar to); “Sodding ‘ell, we can’t stay here any longer we’ve got to get tut Empire afore it starts, you’re always holding me up, cummon!”

With which I would be dragged by the arm, scruff of the neck, or kicked into activity as we progressed towards the Empire Theatre.

Part7-3bSometimes we would stop at Watmough’s toffee shop, to get 2 oz of Nuthall mintoes (Oh how I hated them!), and once inside he would produce his penknife and slowly cut one in half, granting me the pleasure of a half of one! But not on this occasion.

So back to the walk, up passed the Hong Kong Restaurant, where they were repeatedly prosecuted for selling ‘Choosy’ or ‘Kit-E-Kat’ cat food on the menu as something else, when prosecuted for this, and barred from running a restaurant, they would sell the business to the next brother and carry on as usual, I know this for certain, as when dear Mother was at home, she worked there for a bit. She told me.

Onward up towards the Midland Railway station, passing the even more gorgeous smelling ‘Friary chip shop that I would not be frequenting, and down towards the canal with its working barges, and smelly water. (The down and outs had not yet taken up residence under the bridge behind what was then called the ‘Dole Offices, as they do nowadays.)

 *And of course memories of my Canal Calamity were refreshed too.

Part7-3So on this particular day, we progressed past Woolworth’s and the Water Fountain that was between Woolies and Burtons on Carrington Street, and Wigfall’s television shop, without incident.

Then up King Street passing the pawn broker’s, the Post Office, then over the road passing the Theatre Royal and Watmoughs to the Empire.

Joined the queue (not calling into the sweet shop), and went upstairs to take our seats in 9d (4.9p) gods seats. Where without fail, I was always put in a seat behind a dirty great pillar – blocking me view.

One of the acts, I think it was a fire-eater, set fire to the curtains, and we all had to evacuate the theatre.

Part7-3bNow Dad was mainly concerned with getting his entrance money back, and as we were all rushing down the stair, I fell, but he dragged me up and we got out alright, and joined the other audience members milling about.

We were told later that the theatre would not be re-opening that night, and we had to go back home, and I was limping and had a tiny spot of blood above my eyebrow from the fall down the stairs.

Dad notice this by the time we were half way home (walking again of course, Dad wasn’t one to waste money on trolleybuses yer know) and some compassion arose in him, and for the first and only time ever, I was treated to a bag of chips on the way home, and from the Friary chippie too – it was heaven!

Shame I had toothache.


Coming soon A Nottingham Lad’s True Tale of Woe – Part Eight

The Trips to the Public Baths

* See: A Nottingham Lad’s True Tale of Woe – Part Six: The Catastrophic Canal Calamity

Inchcock’s Memories of Nottingham



Nottingham Evening Post:

Residents have spoken of their joy and surprise after Buckingham Palace announced Prince William and Princess Catherine will join the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on their trip to the city on June 13.

My response to this Evening Post article was:

NottsMems.01a I’m so glad for them both.

It will be a reet-treat for them!

Being a long time resident of Nottingham, being made redundant three times, living for a month on a pension that’s less than they pay for a bottle of plonk.

Recovering from heart surgery, suffering with arthritis, impetigo, haemorrhoids, failing reflux valve, and angina, high blood pressure, on 17 medications a day, depressed, bothered and getting angst (mugged twice) by the local yobs, the flea pit I live in (well… I say live?), is even more decrepit than I am, and my expert knowledge of knowing where to find the cheapest short date foods to buy, will no doubt have fascinated them.

Still, it doesn’t bother me, I know my place… in the gutter! (Hehehe)

NottsMems.02Had they responded to my trying to flag their armoured Land Rover down to have a natter with them – instead of the policeman nearby… who did have a natter with me. (The bloke in the picture is not me, I was doing me David Bailey bit with me ten year old camera!)

I’d have offered to show then around the places they would not usually visit without their nine full time armed protection officers and a helicopter hovering above.

Well, you’ve got to try and help the poor little mites, bless them!

* I could have shown them the six police stations torched in the Summer riots – or rather the three that are still operating anyway.

* The burn marks on the Canning Circus station grab bars are still visible as you climb the steps to go into it still brings back the memories.

* I could show them the scenes where a party-goer was shot in the head with an air rifle, that’s only a few hundred yards to the south of my house.

* Then the pub where a youth was shot and killed, that’s just a few hundred yards north of my house.

* The spot where a man sat in a car was shot at by members of one of the  many drug gangs  around, that’s about half a mile from my abode, and on my weekly 90 minute walking route to the hospital for my INR Warfarin level blood tests.

* Take them on my 40 minute walk to town down Mansfield Road, and pointed out the variety of closed down retail businesses en route (46).

* Where the 84 year old lady was mugged and hospitalised last June, while at the bus stop by two illegal immigrants one Sunday morning, the now closed down shop on Mansfield Road where a lady of 67 years of age was gunned down in a raid and no one has ever been caught for it.

* Let them see the colourful Big Issue sellers as they sometimes get off their mobile phones to actually sell an issue.

* The newly opened outlets in the city centre – the Charity shops, the Bookmakers, the Coffee shops, the numerous Pay-day Loan outlets and the We buy your gold retailers.

* The constant traffic jams in the city, where they could increase their word knowledge I’m sure!

NottsMems.03* Take them to the Arboretum, where sometimes you can find enough grass to sit on without having to move the used condoms, beer cans (empty), pop and water bottles (empty), half eaten take away foods, fag packets, phlegm, and sick, while they could listen to three or four other peoples music at the same time!

Well, I was not feeling very well on the day wot I wrote it like, and I missed me morning medications…

The Evening Post, did not print my comment.