All Pals Together

Source: Anonymous contribution to Terry Staples, All Pals Together: The Story of Children’s Cinema (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997), p. 25

Text: When I was at senior school in Kingston in the twenties we were drafted in to the Elite Cinema one Saturday to see a show which was probably organised in conjunction with the Empire Marketing Board. We were somewhat upset at having our morning taken away, and this feeling was compounded when it turned out that the reason for our being there was so that we could be shown a film about rice-growing. After the screening someone made a long speech, and I think we were supposed to write a competitive essay about what we had seen. By this time were were getting restless, and after someone else, probably the Mayor, had had his say, we were supposed to applaud. I never knew which school started it, but the applause gradually developed into a slow handclap. Very angrily, the officials left the stage; and, a bit earlier than planned, the National Anthem was played on the organ. We got a good wigging for our bad manners, but I don’t think any of us ever did write that essay on rice-growing.

Comments: All Pals Together is a history of British children’s cinema. It quotes from several memoirs gathered in the research for the book, unfortunately without identifying the contributors. This passage refers to the practice of some educational authorities organising screenings of instructional films for children on Saturday mornings.