Saturday, 20 September 2014


Conversation overheard on platform at Carnforth railway station. Wife to husband: 'It's not a girls' film. It's got trains in it.'

I'm not sure I'd agree ... I think it's the very epitome of a girls' film. But as I'd started the holiday at the Midland Hotel, where Trevor Howard stayed during the making of the film, I couldn't resist breaking the homeward journey south with the full Brief Encounter Experience on Carnforth station. Free to get in - the film runs on a loop so you could settle down in old-fashioned cinema seats for the whole afternoon - and there's tea and homemade buttered Bara brith in the old station master's office, where Celia Johnson used to warm herself  by the stove when they were filming. No Banbury cakes, though. They ought to have Banbury cakes. Fresh this morning.

One night they didn't finish filming until 7.30am by which time, the fish train from Aberdeen had gone through - leaving a smell of herrings. Happy? No, not re-all-y.

Nobody there but us and a few old train buffs who knew every line of the film, pointing out details we'd never spotted before like the train driver leaning out of the express in the opening sequence. This was 1945 and the driver wouldn't have seen a station lit up at night since the start of the war. But by then it was almost over and there wasn't much likelihood of bombing raids on Carnforth.

Far too late, it dawned on me that we should have made a detour here while we were still in the Lake District. So that's still on the bucket list.

PS I completely forgot to mention in the post about Morecambe this amazing secondhand bookshop on the promenade - keep walking past the seaside rock shops - which looks (and smells) like something out of Diagon Alley. I wouldn't have been at all surprised to stumble across the mummified body of a booklover who got lost in the towering stacks.

13 comments:

Sue said...

'Mind my Banburys' Is that a line from the film or have I imagined it? I absolutely adore Joyce Carey in Brief Encounter and yes, it is a girl's film. The Cruel Sea, now that's a boy's film although it's one of my favourites too and you could watch In Which We Serve in between Brief Encounter and The Cruel Sea which would make a nice sequence.

mary said...

Now look at me Banburys all over the floor! You're not imagining it, Sue. Bath buns feature as well. Like the film sequence.

Sue said...

Thank you Mary, it's got me thinking about food in films and possible blog posts...

mary said...

Babette's Feast? Eat Drink Man Woman? Like Water for Chocolate?

Sue said...

None of which have I seen! I know I should see them all. It's a rich seam to be mined I think.

mary said...

Did you see Big Night about the Italian restaurant? Rich seam indeed, especially if you include films where food has a cameo role.

Sue said...

Missed that one Mary, will look out for it.

mary said...

Winter evenings coming soon, Sue, plenty of time!

Cosy Books said...

One day, last year, I checked youtube for this film - didn't mean to sit and watch the whole thing right then and there but I couldn't stop.
Really enjoying your travel posts, Mary!

mary said...

That's all for now, Darlene - back home now. And I quite agree, watching 5 mins of Brief Encounter is like opening a packet of biscuits and only having one.

Jane said...

Coincidence or what! I wrote a post about Carnforth on my blog at the end of August and mentioned so many of the things you mention (Banburys, Celia Johnson warming herself in the station master's room, the avoidance of bombing raids, and how you can sit in a cinema seat and watch the film on a loop). Uncanny!

Jane said...

And I used the same photo!

http://www.yarnstormpress.co.uk/yp/page/2/

Jane

mary said...

I wish they'd had Banbury cakes in the cafe, Jane. The chap who runs it told us he was longing to stage a vignette - and knock them over like in the film. I have a feeling that everybody who goes there knows it word for word like we do!
Did you fall about laughing every time the express went through? Seemed like every five minutes! We dabbed our eyes and longed for Trevor Howard - though the more I watch it, the more cynical I feel about his ability to pick up ladies in the Kardomah!