London’s Lost Cinemas (LRB)


[first image from the 1930s, the second a projection of what it might look like]

“I don’t know if the afterlife experience will fall on us as a broken-backed trudge across an eternity of unyielding stones or a short-breathed descent into a confusion of hot tunnels (with distant rumours of rushing water). Or if the coming limbo will sentence the dead to a cinema purgatorio of guilty memories with no beginning and no end; a microclimate of mephitic fumes so pernicious that tired eyes struggle to form a pattern from writhing shapes on a dirty sheet. But whatever manifests when the hour comes – perhaps all of the above in a simultaneous implosion of apocalyptic payback – it will feel very much like being shipwrecked on the Tempest island of the Elephant and Castle; another chunk of London real estate serially overwhelmed by enlightened development.”


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