Friday, 20 March 2015

The people inside of your walls

only review I could find
So secret doorways and hidden rooms got me thinking. And I recalled a book I discovered, decades ago, while prowling through a 2nd hand book shop which was so packed full of books (floor-to-ceiling) that every turn and stair up or down made you wonder where, or when, you were going to find yourself. It was in this labyrinth that I came across Odd's End by Tim Wynne Jones.

The story was all about a happy couple living in an out-of-the-way place and the odd things that start happening in their isolated home. At first it's just little things like misplaced items, "could have sworn I left my glasses on the kitchen counter" kind of thing. And then one evening one of them comes home to an amazingly romantic candle lit dinner...which both deny arranging. Weird goings-on continue and anonymous, obscene letters found lying around turn up the tension between our happy couple until suspicion and paranoia reign...

(spoiler alert)

...well, suffice to say the climax is violent and the story ends with the voice of Mr. X --who turns out to be the person who had been living in the walls of the couple's house and responsible for the odd events and even murder!

The Palace facade 2004
Weirdly enough, at around the same time as I read this book there were some rather odd goings on at my place of work. That place of work was an old movie theatre (yep, the same theatre where I met David McCallum) called The Palace. I spent a year there as the week day matinee candy girl--seller of popcorn, chocolate, sugary drinks and human calculator--no cash registers, you see.

The Palace was built in 1921 and could seat close to a thousand people. It was huge and almost always empty during the week day afternoons. Clientele was sparse and varied depending on the movie. Sometimes it was only a few men sitting miles apart from one another (nudge, nudge).

Palace Theatre, 1920s
As well as specious patrons the theatre also had several hidden spaces. Behind the movie screen, for example, was a huge stage complete with cat walk scaffolding and big old stage lights. I don't know what our change rooms had been but they were small, cramped and below the main floor level, accessed by a steep wooden stair...more like a ladder really.

But what's the point of this story? Oh, right. Ok, well, some of us candy girls complained about our changing room. As well as being small, dim, cramped, and musty there were holes in one wall and, quite frankly, it was spooky...and creepy. Some girls even said that they felt like they were being watched.

Former glory of Palace interior
I think it was the Assistant Manager (Dave?) who finally came down one day to examine one of these holes. He put his eye up to one to look through. Then he placed his finger in the hole and started to pull outwards. Old drywall and wallpaper came easily away and through this bigger hole we could see there was a lot more open space in behind.

Long story short they discovered quite the warren back there and evidence--mattress, sleeping bag, food, flashlight, etc,--that someone was living there. Apparently you could make your way from that space through the entire length of the building and up to the area behind the screen near the back door exit.

Sorry about the resolution of this...