Well what a fun evening of music and movies on 6th July! After months of behind the scenes preparation, the day arrived at last. During the afternoon David, Dai, Dave and I turned the chairs, put up the blackout (mostly black paper held to the window bars with magnets and blutak), set up the new organ fund display boards with information about the organ and pipe sponsorship details and started to set out the refreshment tables. We came back later to help Ray set up the audio visual kit, including the large screen, projector and screen for the organist. The refreshment team were busy serving tea, cakes, wine, squash and popcorn as soon as the first audience arrived before 7pm and they kept arriving, much to our delight right up to the published start time of 7:30 pm. As David, the main organiser said “When I could see that there were plenty of audience I was able to relax and enjoy!”

David and Dai setting up additional blackout

David and Dai setting up additional blackout

Blackout on the north windows

Blackout on the north windows

Cakes

Cakes

David welcomes everyone

David welcomes everyone

David introduced Donald Mackenzie, who gave a welcoming flourish to show off the sound of the Willis organ playing cinema organ style music. Donald then introduced the first film, the Laurel & Hardy classic ‘Do Detectives Think’. This was greeted with delight by the audience, especially as some of the captions were of the kind of simple but cunning humour many of us had forgotten existed and had us roaring with laughter. During the interval many more refreshments, including ice cream, was consumed before we settled down to watch the main feature, Buster Keaton’s ‘The General’. Donald explained that Buster did all the stunts himself, there was no stunt double, and as a lot of these were on a moving steam train, this was all the more remarkable. The movie was over an hour long and during the final part Donald was playing in almost darkness at the organ console. The audience was very appreciative of a wonderful effort of performing by the live organist who was playing with no music (for a total of 1 hour 35 minutes) as well as the black and white images on the screen whose performances kept us uproariously entertained.

Donald plays his opening music

Donald plays his opening music

Donald introduces Laurel & Hardy

Donald introduces Laurel & Hardy

Donald accompanies L&H

Donald accompanies L&H

David introduces the second half

David introduces the second half

Donald’s comment to David by email after the event:

“There was a terrific turnout and I gather many were new to the church. The 'team' did a splendid job with their organisation and presentation and I think the parish ought to be very proud of their efforts.”

I would like to thank David for organising the event, Lesley for acquiring the wine and popcorn, Ray for doing the projection with Dave’s help, St James’s Church Hanslope for the use of their large screen, the Parish Family folk who offered to help with ‘Just One Thing’, including Larry and Penny for meeting and greeting and Joan for looking after the raffle, Jan for selling vouchers, Dai for helping before, during and after the event and Gill, Shirley, Nina for helping serve the refreshments. Thanks also to Lesley King for her help with publicity through the Stony Scala Film Club. And of course a big “Thank you” to Donald Mackenzie, who despite being unwell and playing an organ which was misbehaving, brought a bit of the Odeon Leicester Square to Stony Stratford for the evening – what a glorious treat.

I’m delighted to announce that after expenses we raised a total of £790.50 for the organ fund from this event.

The audience, screen and organ

The audience, screen and organ

Donald introduces 'The General'

Donald introduces 'The General'

Donald accompanies Buster Keaton

Donald accompanies Buster Keaton