Tuesday, 15 September 2015

TO THE LONGBOATS...THE MOST FAMOUS 'VIKING' OF ALL!



Alas, alack, woe is me!  I am cast down and utterly despondent.  Oh, despair!  And what is the reason for my low mood, the more kindly amongst you may ask.  I'll tell you.  As far as I'm aware, I've only ever visited Largs (in Ayrshire) three times in my life.  At least, that is to say I've holidayed there three times, but perhaps I've passed through or near to it over the years without being aware of the fact while in a friend's car en route to somewhere else.

The years I'm specifically referring to, however, are 1968, '69 & '71, when I was 9, 10 & 12 years old respectively.  On at least two occasions, my family attended The VIKING CINEMA in Largs, once to see Those MAGNIFICENT MEN In Their FLYING MACHINES and also, I think, The MAGNIFICENT SEVEN - though I can't recall which of the two we saw first, not that it matters.  (However, come to think of it, it's strange that both movies had the word 'magnificent' in the title.)


The Viking Cinema was a truly, er... magnificent art-deco establishment, with a sturdy mock-up of the prow of a Viking longship protruding from the front of the building.  I recall standing on it and thinking what it must've been like to sail the seven seas in days of yore, doing a spot of pillaging and... well, I was just a boy, so I was probably ignorant of the other activity for which Vikings were infamous, so we needn't go there.

Over the years, I've often thought back to those holidays, fully intending to revisit Largs again and once more stand on the deck of that prow and relive my boyhood memories.  Imagine my dismay then, when I learned only an hour or so ago, that The Viking Cinema closed on August 4th, 1973 (a mere two years after my last visit to Largs) and was demolished in 1983.  (Apparently it had been turned into a bottling plant in the intervening years between closure and demolition.)


Now, not only is it devastating to learn that a childhood landmark no longer exists, but that it ceased to exist so far back in time as to be separated from my actual experience of the place by only a metaphorical hair.  All the years that I've imagined it still functioning as a cinema (or, if closed, only having done so relatively recently), have all been based on nothing more than the ghost of a memory - a fantasy even.

Alas, alack, I may never again be able to stand on the deck of The Viking in actuality, but, in the coming years, I'll do so - often - in the evergreen and eternal land of memory.

******

And, in case you were wondering why a Scottish town would have a Viking-themed cinema, it's because the long-haired rascals tried to invade us a few centuries back (October 2nd, 1263 to be exact) and we gave them a good gubbing.  (Thor's hammer, in the guise of a stick, must still have been lying in that cave in Norway, which is probably why he couldn't help them out.)  The cinema was in tribute to our well-deserved victory and their defeat - not that we like to rub it in or anything.

******

Apparently, after being removed from the building, the ship's prow was taken to the Isle of Cumbrae and remained there for years.  If anyone has any infor-mation as to whether it's still there or not, feel free to get in touch.
  

2 comments:

  1. Kid, I recently had a similar experience - about 6 months ago I discovered, to my amazement, that Pete Duel, one of the actors from the TV show 'Alias Smith & Jones' had shot himself in December 1971. All those times I was watching the show back in the '70s and I never knew one of the two leading actors was actually dead !!

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    1. That's why Roger Davis, who originally did the show's intro voice, replaced him in the part, CJ. I remember seeing Alias Smith & Jones when it was first shown, and reading about Pete Duel's death at the time. It was an entertaining and enjoyable show, I thought. Obviously inspired by the Butch & Sundance movie.

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