Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.
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A great 8 days in Canterbury
By: Steve Crook
Started Sunday with a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and then down to Canterbury West station to meet Paul Tritton and the other pilgrims for a location walk around Canterbury.
About 40 people turned up which was very nice. The weather looked ideal for a walk around the city. Not hot, slightly overcast but no expectation of any rain. When everybody had been meeted and greeted we went onto the platform to start things off.
Bob: "Pilgrims for Canterbury, all out and get your blessings."
The tour followed the route of the 2002 location walk which I was forced to miss due to an inconveniently bursting appendix. I'll just note the things that we did differently to that one.
Leaving the level crossing and walking towards the Westgate there was a bit of a street party going on as part of the Canterbury Arts Festival. We agreed the performers made a noble effort - but they weren't great.
When we got to the Buttermarket, outside the Cathedral Gate tearooms (now a Starbucks), we broke for some lunch. Michael & I found a nice pub (with some very nice & friendly barmaids) around the corner where we enjoyed a pint and something to eat. Paul joined us in there so we nattered away so much we were a bit late getting back to meet up with the rest of the group.
Some people had been expressing concerns at having to pay to see around the Cathedral and some didn't come back after lunch. As it turned out the little office where they collect the money was shut on Sunday afternoons anyway.
We changed the order from that taken on the 2002 walk by heading back to the High Street and following Alison's route past the bombed out shops where she met the lady with the cut-glass accent. That part of Canterbury has been knocked down and rebuilt a few times since the war and they're in the process of doing it again to large parts of that area.
Up to St George's Gate and the underpass there to admire the depictions of Michael Powell on the mural there. There's another picture of him since I was last there. Then down Watling Street to Rose Lane to where the garage was where Alison had stored her caravan. While we were there I got a phone call from Charles Doble in Somerset so I told him what we were up to and reminded him that it was the birthday of Ludmilla Tchérina.
Then we made our way back to the Cathedral for a self guided tour and to pause in admiration at the way that The Archers re-created large parts of it in the studio. Leaving the Cathedral through the cloisters we followed the route taken by Michael Powell when he was a young chorister going back to the King's School. Quite a few people stayed the whole course and we were tired but happy by the time we finished up at the main gate into the King's School.
I went back to the hotel and had a nice soak in the bath (yes a bath, not just a shower) to ease my aching limbs and then, after a quick bite to eat, went back up the hill to the Gulbenkian for that evening's cinematic entertainment.
That's when we met up with Barbara from Chicago who was over here for this festival and a few Dirk Bogarde related things. Tonight we were to see Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes and they was introduced by Jack Cardiff. I say "introduced", really Jack & Nick Burton had a nice relaxed chat while we all listened in. Jack has such a wonderful fund of anecdotes it's always a pleasure to hear him and he was on very good form that night.
Nick asked if anyone had any questions and I led things off, not with a question but by congratulating Jack on his recent 90th birthday. Barbara asked Jack what he thought of working with digital processes rather than film (good question). He diplomatically didn't say anything that compared the results but he did say that it seemed a lot easier to work with, especially for the actors because everything could be much more casual on set.
We settled down to watch the film. A very good print (apart from the Blue-out error in the print) and that film is always good to see on a big screen. Kathleen Byron's performance really is marvellous in that film and it's a shame that she's not doing so well now.
During TRS they had a problem with the projector (reported as "a piece flew off the projector - but the projectionist is OK, and so is the film") just as they were getting ready for the opening of the ballet of The Red Shoes. But that gave us a chance to sit back and discuss what we thought of it so far :)
I gave Barbara & Michael a lift back into Canterbury but it was getting late so no time for a drink. We dropped Michael off at the cab rank and then I saw Barbara back to her hotel.
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