Sunday, 17 February 2019

The Favourite Night

Strand Cinema, Holywood Road, ca 1936

When I was a lad in short trousers I was taken to the cinema quite often.

The Astoria and The Strand were both owned by the same company in the 1970s, ABC Cinemas, and there were matinees and a cinema club for schoolchildren.

They even gave us little metal enamel badges.

The Astoria was at Ballyhackamore, though it was demolished in 1974 to make way for a new telephone exchange.

The Strand Cinema, built in 1935, survives.

Strandtown House, the residence of Gustavus Heyn (1803-75), owner of the Belfast Steamship Company, used to stand here.

Strandtown House: Gate Lodge

Strandtown House and its grounds comprised two acres.

I had the customary coffee and bun with my aunt yesterday morning in Bell's and declared my intention to go and see The Favourite, a historical period drama about the rivalry between to female courtiers in the service of Queen Anne.

Timothy Belmont invariably adheres to his word. Ask any of his chums.

Accordingly, I left Belmont GHQ and made a beeline for Strandtown, viz. Belmont Road, close to the Strand cinema and Bennett's bistro, my venues.

It's quite a long time since I've darkened Bennett's threshold.

The staff showed me to a small table, where I made my self comfortable and perused the menu.

The Belfast Fish Pie caught the old eye, so I ordered that with a pot of tea.

They have a long list of desserts written in chalk on a blackboard, so I swivelled round, inwardly digested the list, and fancied the apple crumble.

Comfort food!

the grub was all tip-top, with a home-made appearance and taste.

The fish pie was rich, cheesy, creamy, with abundant and various chunks of fish, accompanied by a small sort of ramekin of mixed vegetables.

Plentiful big pieces of apple proliferated the buttery, golden crumble.

Full marks.

Crossing the road at Gelston's Corner, I entered the Strand cinema.

I don't think it has changed massively since I was last there, either, so I purchased a ticket and waited until the film began at eight-thirty.

The relatively recent business park beside the cinema used to be its car-park.

The Favourite is doubtless a good and authentic historical film, with all those period costumes, palatial country houses (Hatfield House was used, as was Hampton Court Palace).

Queen Anne, Abigail, Lady Masham, and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough

Perhaps I am being somewhat pedantic, though Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough was constantly referred to as "Lady Marlborough".

Sarah was Countess of Marlborough, however, until 1702, when her husband was advanced to a dukedom.

Non-royal duchesses are, to my knowledge, styled "Your Grace" or simply "Duchess".

I suppose we cannot be too critical that merely one split infinitive was used, though whether educated noble families split their infinitives three centuries ago is debatable.

All in all a very good film, amusing at times.

It's unfair to compare it with The Green Book, a movie I saw recently, though I enjoyed the latter more.

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