“I’m on my own; this is a wonderful thing as it gives me something to do on a Sunday and a chance for a chat”

This phrase (or very similar versions) was said by three different people as they left the Chantry Centre at yesterday’s screening of ‘Casablanca’. It made my day as this was precisely the rational for the Sunday Matinee. Our screenings are open to all but we particularly want to attract people who’d enjoy a little company on a Sunday afternoon. As our tag line says: “a cuppa, a slice of cake, a natter and a film”. 

“Scrummy Victoria sponge”. “Very good ginger cake”. “Loved the lemon drizzle

This was our third Sunday Matinee and 40 people gathered to watch the film, enjoy some home baked cake and have a chat. As our guests arrived Chris Holland entertained on the saxophone with some topical numbers of the period, including some of the great themes from the film. Chris’ music is always well appreciated. “Loved the entertainment – Chris Holland was great !” was one comment on our feedback forms and he’ll definitely be back again soon. 

“My first visit but not my last!!”

Once everyone had arrived (and much tea and cake consumed !) we presented a special award to the 15th member of our “25 Club” for people who have volunteered at 25 separate films. Paula Holland has been a regular member of the audience from our early days. She joined as a volunteer in December 2018 and since March 2020 has been a member of our organising committee. Today she manages all of our catering and our fab team of volunteers who provide all of our refreshments as well as shopping for supplies. She’s now one of the few proud owners of our very rare and valuable glass coaster engraved with the Billericay Community Cinema logo and the number ’25’. Our congratulations and thanks to you Paula ! 

“Fabulous film, seen it so many times, just wonderful. Can’t get tired of films of this calibre”

Our audience scores gave the film a very creditable average of 9.5 (out of 10). There are so many famous lines in “Casablanca” (but not the obvious one !) that we should have provided “Casablanca Bingo Cards” so everyone could tick each off as it was said. (Hindsight’s a wonderful thing !). Certainly the audience seemed totally engrossed in the film. You could hear people breathing out almost as one when Rick starts to say “Of all the gin joints in all the towns…”, almost see them counting the number of times “Here’s looking at you kid” is said – and laughing at the funnier lines (“Will I see you tonight ? I never make plans that far ahead”). 

I’ll finish this post by returning back to the beginning. Social isolation in our communities is a big problem, one which grew significantly during lockdown. Too many spend lengthy periods of time alone, not speaking or seeing anyone else. Our aim from the Sunday Matinee was to play a small part in helping to alleviate social isolation. It’s clear from the feedback that we are. But we, and our wider society can – and must – do more.

Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By’

Thanks to our amazing volunteers on the day without whom this show couldn’t happen: Jo, Mark H, Mark V, Anne, Martin, Ken, Paula, Paul, Chris, Pat, David, Maureen, Jackie and Adam.

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