Memo Moan |Barry|Sue’s View

Well, we are not even out of the woods of that chaotic Christmas time yet and I’m already looking for bold Barrybados 2020 adventures.

Just spied the latest Nick and Shirley Hodges tasty tour on my trusty facebook feed so that’s a diary date for sure.

I absolutely love what the married duo have done with these free treats – giving us a taste of the time before, and helping the town’s tourism too.

Been on the Barry Dock Victorian outing which as an afternoon of fun and frolics that ended up with a dirty deed and a pint at the Castle Pub.

The dirty deed was a gruesome back in the day murder, the pint was very much here and now and slid down a treat.

I’m also desperate to try out the High Street Trade Quarter Tour too but just could never quite catch up the calendar with the dates designated.

And I also totally support the historic Hodges fight for a much-needed museum in our town to highlight our history and showcase the stories of old.

Now I hear that the couple are looking to take us on a reel around our town’s fountain of stage and screen at the Barry Memorial Hall so will definitely be up for that.

I have mixed feelings about ‘The Memo’ vibe actually – and its nothing to do with Barry Town Council who are based there.

Totally take on board, the their initial bid to become a bit more upmarket and I strongly supported the raising of their game during my B&D Editor days.

What I don’t get is why, all these years later, we still don’t make the most of Barry’s biggest live music, drama and film space.

Stage shows, bands, gigs, ‘am dram’ and other stage staples seem to be working like clockwork but the cinema side, in my view, is sadly lacking.

Yeah, yeah I know that films are shown at the Memo with increasing regularity, National Theatre Live is due to be beamed in, and those eclectic ‘Exhibitions on Screen’ are already advertised.

But every time I’ve popped along to a showing, it’s been almost empty, the chairs have given me a bad back, and its bloody freezing.

The Bar was open which is always a bonus, and we were chucked a blankie to wrap warmly up in, so total thanks for that thought.

For me though, the biggest killer is the complete lack of atmosphere.

I think back to those packed Saturday Theatre Royale film showings of old as we all trooped in to take in the latest big screen blockbusters armed with goodies from the store.

I absolutely loved the vibe, the darkness, the torch-bearing Usherette and even the occasional peanut being lobbed over the balcony – remember that!

No sure why we can’t catch those moments again, sans flinged foodstuffs, at The Memo.

I can so hear you shouting for me to take my rose-tinted Sunnies off – whilst also taking my tongue firmly from my cheek.

But I really do believe there’s some prime potential for a packed Picture House for all ages.

In my view, we could learn a lot from our near neighbour Arts Centre in Canton.

Chapter Arts have a welcoming walk in, a bustling bar, crammed café, gorgeous gallery, top theatre and two cute cinemas – without losing the bread and butter income of the various clubs and groups that meet there.

Call me controversial but I’d even go as far as dumping the Memo main stage for film showings and turning the upstairs rooms into a at least one cosy and cwtchy cinema.

And I’d soon sort out some fabulous, but not too fancy, food in the bar area – not advocating oysters but a burger in a bun would be a start.

No, I’m not just being nostalgic either, I just think that with no cinema left in the town, this is an idea well worth exploring, especially with a captive market waiting in the wings.

Totally get that the Memo is also a prime party venue – I had my own Wedding Evening Party, and Handsome Harry’s Christening there – not on the same day I hasten to add.

But surely, in the words of my work world, there is a ‘workaround’ that could keep the party bookings, carry on with the stage and music stuff, with some rather radical cinema renovations added on top.

For someone who has seen four films, two theatre screenings, a play and enjoyed at least one cheeky tea at Chapter, within a month, it would certainly grab my attention.

So silver screen dream or a real life resolution, you decide.

Well worth a thought though isn’t it?

Speak soon.




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Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist. She blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.

Sue’s Views is the reboot of her much-loved infamous B&D opinion column from back in the day. Recently resurrected in Style Of The City Magazine, it focuses on the hot topics we are all talking about in beautiful Barry, and beyond – the good, the bad, the ugly.

Mrs SVJ, Barry’s Boldest Blogger, can be contacted here.