Memories of Stock - Jim Sargant
Wartime Entertainment
The main sources of evening entertainment in the village were occasional dances, regular whist drives and, periodically, weekly film shows in the village hall. Few of the boys went to dances and most of those that did just stood around and talked (today's youth would certainly not have been contemt with such lack of activity!). Whist drives attracted all ages - probably the youngest was Colin Porter, who must have been about seven when he first came. There was a degree of inter-village rivalry among some of the keener players - in particular when Stock folk attended Galleywood whist drives and vice versa. Several of us went to a really big Chelmsford City Supporters Club drive at the Shire Hall once, but it wasn't fun like the Stock events. Occasionally, there were beetle drives, but these were not so well supported.
At different times, various people from outside the village started weekly film shows but each only lasted a few months. Many of the films were repeated by succeeding projectionists, which is probably why I have seen Buffalo Bill five times and Oh Mr Porter and The Ghost Train about the same number. I remember running home in the dark in the middle of Phantom of the Opera, I was so scared. We sat on collapsible wooden chairs set out in rows. If the film wasn't very entertaining, we would hook our feet around the legs of a chair in front and some unfortunate would end up on the floor. There was always a 'half-time intermission', while the projectionist changed reels and his assistant would wander around spraying the air with a 'Flit' gun.
Home entertainment was mostly the wireless. Sometimes during air raids, we would huddle under the living room table listening. Winston Churchill's broadcasts were not to be missed, but one of our favourites was ITMA, with Tommy Handley, Jack Train etc.
Other popular programmes were Monday Night at Seven (later became Monday Night at Eight), Happidrome and a regular variety show which starred different performers each week - such as Arthur Askey, Rob Wilton, Jack Warner and Max Miller. I was to learn many years later that Max Miller's real name was Harry Sargent and that, despite the difference in spelling, my grandfather claimed that they were related. I feel sure that my mother didn't know of this alleged relationship, as I remember her disapproving of Max's 'blue' jokes. Certainly there was a visual similarity between my father and Max. Another favourite was a programme of the national anthems of the Allies played every Sunday evening during the war.
Jim Sargant
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