PAGE 3 OF 5
I can remember the names of the staff in the bug. We had Ruby and Dolly who would take turns at either being in the kiosk issuing tickets or in the auditorium. There was Kath who was our usherette. Joe Peters who was our chucker outer of undesirables. He left after a while to take over the cinema on Canvey Island. There was Ron Castle our manager, Ray, chief projectionist and myself. (and as I thought, my mate John)
Well it was time to leave school, there I was at 15 and keen to start work the following Monday at the Bug. I arrived for work and there was no sign of my mate John. I asked the manager where John was, and he said “Oh, he`ll not be starting, we`ve got you” Oh good I thought. John was going to be boy 1 at £3 per week and I was boy 2 at £2.10shillings a week. (£2.50 in todays money) So I thought I would be promoted to £3 per week. Not so, I was still at £2.50. The rotters.
Anyway I did enjoy working at the Bug and only working evenings except for a couple of mornings where we had to turn up to spool up the change of programme. One evening the chief, Ray, said come in early tomorrow Rod, as we are going to re-paint the screen. So I turned up and was kitted up with brush and paint. We got a ladder out and I was sent up to start at the top. There was I reaching out and out painting when all of a sudden the ladder slipped from under my feet, aaaaaaah I shouted and grabbed the top of the screen. With my legs dangling Ray shouted “B…..y `ell and put the ladder back so that I could come down. Both him and manager Ron were concerned about me, but I was concerned about the dropped paint. Anyway we cleaned it up.
As we painted the lower part of the screen, I said to Ray, “What are these small holes”
He had a look and got his pen knife out digging something out of the screen. It turned out that the holes were caused by air gun pellets. So with tears running down our faces,
We split our sides laughing, saying somebody had been shooting the Indians while the film was on.
When my mates wanted to come in to watch a film I used to tell them to wait outside the back door at 7pm and I`d come and let them in. On one occasion one of them was late, so my mate Brian, waited for him, while I went back up to the projection room. (I learned this years later in fact only a couple of years ago) There was a rustling at the door, so Brian opened it and let in the horse that used to be tethered out the back. It had broken it`s rope. The horse was charging up and down the aisles with old Joe Peters (the auditorium guy) chasing after it. When Brian told me this recently we were in stitches and I said “Was a cowboy film on at the time”?
I turned up one Monday for work and Ray was nowhere to be seen. A bloke came up to me and said i`m to work with you in the box. (projection box) I confronted Ron the manager and he said Ray has finished and you`ve got this backward chap as your second.
His name was Doug, and became to be known as, Doug `o the Bug. I moved up to £3 a week. And was about 16 then. So I was running the box at 16, but was not getting the right pay for the job. You don`t realise how you are used when you are young do you? But still I Thoroughly enjoyed the job. Now here`s the rub. There I was, not old enough to watch an X film, but I had to show them. Weird isn`t it?
I used to get one day a week off and we had a bloke called Harry in to cover. He was a bit of a sly chap. I`m sure he wanted my job and tried several tricks to try and discredit me to get it. One was to mix up the reels of film. (every 20minutes you had to change over projectors as 2,000 feet of film was the largest reel and ran for 20minutes) I didn`t notice he