TO THE LEFT TO THE LEFT…EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT IN A BOX TO THE LEFT
…sorry Beyoncé it just popped into my head and I had the urge to bastardise the lyric.
With brolly and hope, I was filming John and Roland from the Hartbeats on a wet Friday morning, standing in front of where the Rink ballroom used to be.
Gradually we were moving further and further down the road (literally and metaphorically as it turned out) because the patch of grass, weeds and daisies most people assumed was the site of the Rink was, historically speaking, slightly askew. It’s interesting in that even such a simple fact; a ‘fact’ that was taken for granted by most I have met (the majority of whom went to the Rink many times) turns out to need tweaking.
Hence to the left, to the left.
We were in the process of mentally moving the building from the nice neat space I thought it inhabited, to slightly further down the road towards the football ground. Not a massive move admittedly, but one that intrigues me. One of the thrusts of my piece is how stories are told and re-told, and in the process get re-invented. I have always been aware that this piece is a re-invention on my part anyway…so to have to conceptually shift the literal space that is my theme is an interesting example of myth making at work.
I had had nagging doubts from the first time I visited the site. Wandering around the grassland it just didn’t seem as wide as I first imagined it should be. But I convinced myself it was just an illusion, that if the area was instead no longer open space but occupied by a building, then once inside that space I would realise it’s actual largess. So I thought myself out of the doubt.
Some time later I received a letter which referred to the Rink now being occupied by the football ground ticket office.’ Yes I know what Nancy means’ I thought ‘but I think she’s just got her bearing’s slightly off’. Turns out she is almost certainly right.
Standing with John and Roland they recount having a friend who lived in one of the houses that still overlook the grass – she was able to watch the crowds form on dance nights and he is sure there was open space where people would mill around… and yes Roland vividly remembers where the fire exit was… Being onstage, he was well placed to see the bouncers as they unceremoniously hurled certain unruly unwanteds head first out of the fire exit onto the grass… so there had to be open space where I had imagined the building stood. And yes the football ground wouldn’t have had a car park or a ticket office there, so said space must have been what the ballroom inhabited.
A simple shift but one which acts as a great big reminder that even the most basic facts are often not facts at all.
I am interested to take the guys around town. We stand by the junction where Roland’s house used to be. It’s all very anonymous now, featureless office buildings and scrub land. Around here were rows and rows of terraces; it used to be buzzing I’m told… all the way down to Lynne street where the tailor’s shop stood. Four red suits made to measure.
When you pace the streets you do have to wonder at the ineptitude of the developers. I am not one for standing still. Change is ok by me and nostalgia by definition a romantic rehash of reality, but what happened here appears to have ripped out the heart of the ‘pool and replaced it with a poor substitute for progress. It’s no longer even modern, just unimaginative.
Here the suits were born. Bright red in a grey world.
Apparently the first night the guys wore those suits the crowd rushed forward towards the stage in a mass;
“It was really quite scary” says Roland, but also, grinning (an electrical engineering apprentice in white winkle pickers, guitar hitched high, facing up the hysterical mosh)
“It doesn’t get any better than that” he said.