Columnist John Light recalls a night in a cinema that didn't end well

THE nostalgia pages of this newspaper are a joy for those of us of a certain age.

Especially enjoyable are Bob Heaven’s articles in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard.

In the edition of February 20 was a picture of the former Gaumont Cinema in Cirencester, the scene of my most embarrassing moment. I felt like I had received a kick in the rear while facing the other way.

For more than 60 years I have been unable to speak about it (others have not had the same problem), but now is the time to face up to this dreadful event and get it out of my system. Shock therapy is needed!

It was a sunny June day in 1956, and it being Saturday I was playing cricket, against formidable rivals Marling School.

Several senior girls had come to watch. They were interested in a Greek god living in the Stroud area. He was playing for Marling, using his earthly name Russell Hillier.

I was asked to give some solidity to the beginning of our innings and take most of the quick bowling of Roger Smart.

We lost, but the best part of the day was still to come.

I had secured an assignation with a pretty young lady from Coates, and we were going to the Gaumont to see the story of Douglas Bader. The film was called Reach for the Sky and it starred Kenneth Moore. We had to queue but finally got in and were seated in the middle of the stalls.

Early in film Bader crashes his aeroplane and goes to hospital where his legs are amputated.

As he lost consciousness in the realistic hospital scenes so too did I in the cinema. I cannot tell you what happened in the next few minutes, but believe a stretcher was involved. The story now moves to the Friar Tuck fish and chip shop, some one hundred yards from the cinema. Somehow I had been taken there.

Voices were heard “make him a cup of tea” “give him some bread and butter”.

I recall little about the rest of the evening, but sure to say it did not end as I hoped.

Monday in school brought cheerful scorn and ridicule.

The story does not end there, however. On December 15, 2005 Penny and I were enjoying our first day in our new home. Full of optimism and joy we headed up Cricklade Street towards the Market Place. Just outside Woolworth a voice came from across the street: “Morning Lighty – fainted lately?”