Sitting in the projection room in the Hyde Park Picture House …


I was really quite giddy. After two years of writing and researching our cinema poems, Matthew and I and his film-maker friend Jon Mills were sitting chatting in the projection room of Leeds’ iconic HPPH.

Jon was interviewing us about Cinema Stories to make a short film. Wendy the ever lovely and helpful manager at the cinema had given us a kind of ‘access to all areas’ ticket and I felt like Bono at a rock festival. But not such a pratt, obviously.

And yes seeing the big projectors and the cans of film was exciting, but it was just being in that special Cinema Paradiso place. We had concentrated on the buildings and the areas of Leeds they were in, but this was the nerve centre of the picture house where the huge machines sat like hulks next to their neat digital great-grandchildren.

The projectionist was affable if slightly baffled by us. We had after all invaded his inner sanctum. In the end he retreated and left us to it. We read from our collection to the camera, and we chatted to each other about getting the collection together while Jon recorded us.

Later on, to an audience scattered through the cinema, we shared our experiences and some of our poems before watching a special showing of ‘Billy Liar’, a favourite film of Matthew’s and mine.

Waiting outside to be picked up, it was 10.30pm and long past my usual bed-time, I was moved all over again by the way we all seem to connect to film so directly, and mused that later on that night throughout the UK, at a minute past midnight, thousands of fans would be gathering together to see the latest Star Wars movie, films which had lit up and defined their childhoods and their growing up, which were loaded with the charisma and nostalgia of the cinema, of going to the pictures.