I have worked until half past seven on a Saturday night and they've looked at me and said ‘Shall we let him go.' I've gone home, got ready, gone to the Palais, walked it, come home, then walked it back to work on Sunday morning for eight, and worked all afternoon as well Sunday and then I started work, I was going on days you see, so I started work Monday morning quarter to eight. The number of hours you put in were absolutely incredible.
I mean you saw the people you would like to see, Flanagan and Allen and these sorts of things, at the cinema, at the Lido for instance. In some cases I think they were really driven from London with the Blitz, but in the normal way of course all the entertainment of that nature thrived and we went on a regular basis and the thing is, the same show used to come round once a year, and it was the exactly the same songs and exactly the same words and everybody laughed at the same jokes they did a year ago. Talent wasn't swept away like it is now, but it's gone, the theatre. If you were on nights you could go. If I did without some sleep I could go to the cinema, so I used to go and get about 4 hours sleep and then go to the cinema. I were a bit tired that night, but that's how it comes.
Palais de Dance! I call it my misspent youth. As I've already said, I went to night school three nights a week and it was a matter of... at nine o'clock when the classes finish, dashing out to the corner of the Queens Cinema on the corner and catching the first tram, Halliwell or Dunscar that went down Bridge Street and dropping off at the Palais... to get there for the interval.
Well, as I say, misspent youth. No, maybe three nights a week, and some people that I think of now and see occasionally... and it's funny that the band then in the Palais de Dance was Johnny Healey, a very well-known band leader, I don't know if you've heard of him?
It was a very cosmopolitan crowd of people - the Americans were coming in on Liberty trucks from Burtonwood. And I suppose these Liberty trucks - I'm only assuming this, that the Americans at Burtonwood would have a number of trucks to choose from, going to different places and where they wanted to go to. And anyone that wanted to go to Bolton Palais, would get on the Bolton truck, and I know there'd be at least four, and they would park in that little street, leading up to where St Mary's Church. It doesn't exist now, but the drivers used to park the trucks up there until the dancing had finished and then take the Americans back. And there was at least two American soldiers - they were Eighth Army Air Force - and they had been in Bolton so long they could speak Lancashire accent without any trouble at all! That was their party piece when they saw you to say something in a Bolton dialect, a Lancashire accent!
The Palais was very nice, yes, and it wasn't always to go for a dance - you used to go for a coffee on the balcony, because you got sugar... you know, sugar was rationed, coffee was rationed and you could you up there and get a cup of coffee for sixpence and make it last all night! And listening to Johnny Healey's band was worth what you'd paid to go on the balcony.
Oh, yes, when you move from the dance floor to go up on the balcony, you passed someone who gave you a ticket, and that allowed you to come back down off the balcony to dance again on the dance floor. Well, we used to... somebody would say ‘Lend us your ticket' and go on down and have a dance and without paying for the dancing. (laughs)
We went to the cinema a lot. We used to go to the cinema and they had concerts. I remember going to a really good concert in the Lido, on Bradshawgate, where they had, orchestras came, and things like that. I can't remember what it was called, but it was a really nice... really nice concert in there. They had a few, you know, in the Grand Theatre. People still went. At the beginning, people didn't go out as much, but when it had been on for a couple of years or so, they just didn't bother and they started to go out.
We used to go to a little cinema called the Palace Cinema which was further round Radcliffe Road. It's now Church Wharf Garage, it's called, and we all used to carry a torch with us, because, when you're coming out, there'd be no street lights, and it were actually pitch black some nights, and we seemed to get a lot more fog in them days, with everyone burning coal, and all the mills working. During winter it was foggy very, very often and you could hardly make your way home, but, of course, we used to go two or three times a week to the Palace, that was the only form of entertainment and very rarely did we go into the cinemas in town.
If the sirens went when you were in the cinema, well, it was up to you. You could sit and watch to the end or you could get up, go out. Around about us, on Fletcher Street, there was the Ritz Cinema, on Daubhill it was the Tivoli, and on Deane Road, near Deane Road it used to be the Regent and then further up Daubhill it used to be the Majestic. Now, if you were well-off you could go ‘first house' - that was half six ‘til eight - and you would get a big film, the news which you watched, hoping you could see your Dad, and when it showed, say our troops in Italy or El Alamein or wherever he were and you eyes were all over the screen, looking in case you see him, you know. Who was it that saw somebody, wan't it, who we were with, and she said ‘Look, look, Daddy!' and it were it were her husband and they were in a truck going along holding on to the truck and that, and as I say everybody was looking in case you could see and also you listened to the radio at lot, there was no television so you listened to the radio and you listened for the news. And where all these things were happening and all that. So, you worried, you say there waiting in case they mentioned somewhere where you knew you husband is or your Dad is and if there's bad fighting there and things like that, well you're that worried more, so.
The Ritz was called the ‘bug hut' children called it, the bug hut, (laughs) when you went with your penny or your tuppence - tuppence you were in the good seats but a penny you were with the rabble, sort of thing. And we used to watch Buster Crabbe, Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, Johnny MacBrown and all those. If you were lucky, you still got some sweets left, and you could take, you know, a few sweets with you, because I don't think there were any ice cream in them days. Maybe after the War, yes, but not during. And also there were another one - Regent - and they called that the ‘chatter scratch' (laughs) the bug hut and the chatter scratch it were what children called it you see.