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Flights of nostalgia
The North Street of today is not what it was, in essence, I’m prone to nostalgia, so it’s memories of the past that often flood back. I recall simple things like not having to be a taxi or bus to drive in either direction and that you could take any turn to the right or left without infringing any local legislation. I also remember the burly doorman supervising the Sunday queue in the Regent Cinema’s lower entrance in North Street, Flash Gordon and shouting my head off at the Saturday morning children’s film shows, and in the days before supermarkets, being dumped for an hour and a bit at the Princes News Theatre and then waiting for what seemed like hours to be picked up afterwards.
My flash Italian suit
As a youth I recall making a single coffee last the whole evening in The Lounge coffee bar, my Italian suit with cardboard handkerchief from Monty Burton, and how I loved watching any payments made at Horne Brothers being put into cylinders in their vacuum operated cash machines, my money being sucked away and within minutes my receipt returning with a loud plonk.
Look into the past – from Boots
Although I now live abroad and realise all that has gone, I think you can still stand on the steps at the North Street entrance of Boots and look into the past from there. For example, unless local legislation has vandalised it, there should still be an ancient terracotta griffin on the tight apex of the peg-tile roof that was once over the Princes News Theatre, and also the Victorian hatter’s hand painted advertisement on the wall next to it.
Rise above the gaudiness
My advice to anyone that visits North Street these days is to ignore the dereliction, gaudiness and tat, and remember the past. If you take the time to think back, by looking above and below the various shop fronts, aspects of the original architecture and historical landscape are still there to enjoy.