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Last updated on 16 October, 2021 at 5:13 PM
Gary Guy was one of the heroes...
"I remember myself and Mike Barnes going to the Weston picture house with a crudely painted flag with the intention of hoisting it on top of the building. Before the Queen was played we sneaked out to the toilet where there was a drainpipe leading up to the roof. Whilst my mate kept guard I shinned up to the roof and hung the flag. The things you do when you are young, fit and stupid! The rest was not so easy because when I shinned back down the window was closed. The staff had turfed my mate out. I had visions of being up there all day and the most of the next. However, I managed to find a way down another pipe onto the roof of an adjoining roof and from there onto a lower one. I was in the throes of 'dreeping' down to the ground and safety when the back door opened and an old codger carrying a coal bucket shuffled out and caught me full in the lights of the kitchen. Well... I shit myself and had a vision of ending up in prison. I stutteringly gave him an explanation of why I was in his back yard and then fled. He was probably more scared than me. In the street 3/4 of us met up and caught the bus back to camp. Next day Threlfall (the Triff) phoned the local rag but all we got was one lousy paragraph".
...so was Mike Barnes
"What have I started ... but I'm sure Gary won't mind another (50 year old) recollection! Quite a few other guys were involved in preparing the banner, and watched from the pavement opposite the Odeon while it was 'raised' - so there may well be other versions yet to come! Here's mine:
We waited till almost the end of the film (didn't want to waste an expensive ticket, plus good timing for those leaving the cinema to watch) and then Gary and I went to the Gents loo, climbed through the (very small) window, shinned up the sewer pipe and onto the roof - made our way to the front of the building and tied the banner to the railings (the ones that also hosted the 'Odeon' sign if I remember rightly). A (smallish!) cheer went up from the 84th watching from the pavement opposite as it was unfurled.
We had pre-planned a different route down expecting the toilet window would probably be closed at turnout time, so made our way across the mainly flat roof to the rear of the building where a slate roof sloped down over some flats. We slid down the tiles to the gutter, but it immediately became obvious that the pipe we planned to shin down was pretty risky because it was angled out from the wall to get round the gutter. Can't remember how we decided it, but I sat with my feet braced in the gutter holding the top of the pipe while Garry climbed over and shinned down (which did indeed take balls Gary).
But ... as he got almost to the bottom of the pipe he was bathed in light as a door opened and the irate householder demanded to know "what the hell are you doing?"
Then followed one of my favourite and often recounted Locking memories. Cool as you like, Gary said "It's OK, me and my mate are just putting a Locking banner on the Odeon roof, and we had to come down this way because the cinema closed - look, he's coming down now" But I'd already decided Gary was caught, and had no intention joining him in the lock-up or whatever - so I disappeared back up the tiles to find another escape route with "Mike, where are you" fading in the distance! I still have a guilty conscience about leaving Gary with the double problem of now explaining away his mate's story - sorry Garry!
But it didn't work out for me either, because there simply was no other way down. So as a last resort I went back the original sewer pipe - and mercy of mercies the toilet window was still open! I was down the pipe and through the window in a flash, and emerged from the toilet only to be confronted by the manager, who was doing his final lock-up rounds (with a torch, all the main lights were out) Now it was my turn "what the hell are you doing?"
I tried saying I'd just been rather a long time in the toilet with an upset stomach - but he wouldn't wear that and threatened to call the police. So I came clean and told him I was a Locking apprentice and just put a banner on the roof "no damage, honest, just a banner - come outside and I'll show you". He only came as far as door, saw the small crowd of apprentice still on the pavement opposite, believed my story and let me go!
Plenty of others will recall the bus ride back to Locking that night when we went over every detail. Versions 3 (and others) eagerly awaited!"
Tony Beard remembers:
“Probably one of the major escapades that the 84th planned and executed was the flag on the Odeon cinema in Weston. One of our number managed to climb onto the roof of the cinema one Wednesday evening and hoisted the Entry flag on a vacant pole. Being unable to re-enter the cinema, he made his way across several rooftops until he managed to get to the ground in someone’s back-yard. The Weston Mercury was telephoned the following day and we in due course achieved our aim of some little publicity in the next edition of the paper.” See the newspaper clipping supplied by Derek Orgill - The Case of the Unexpected Banner.