Going back to Pompeii

Warning: anecdote follows!

Back in around 1977 or thereabouts, when the Three Arts Theatre in Plumstead here in Cape Town was still doing these things, I went with a bunch of friends – yes, you, Paul Buck, Justin and all – to a midnight show on a public holiday.

Yes, they used to do that: you couldn’t go to movies during the holiday, but from midnight on was OK. Strange times….

At the 3 Arts they used to have to frisk you going in, to remove both assorted weaponry and booze from the largely teenage patrons. So there we were, lining up with the junior peasantry, at a triple bill: some ghastly third-rate horror flick first, another forgettable piece of rubbish third – and Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii second, at around 01:30.

The first movie was absolute mayhem: you could’nt see anything for kids running round and jumping up and down; you couldn’t hear anything because of the amount of noise they were making – in the pre-vuvuzela says, this was whistles, rattles, squeakers, you name it. And morons screaming things like “Hey, Koos! Jou ma se poes!!” and the like. So we endured…more than an hour, then a brief interval for changeover, and then…we noticed large banks of speakers each side of the stage, that hadn’t been on previously, now were. And they started to emit noise….

Bliss. Absolute bliss.

Imagine – Pink Floyd, with just a sound and film crew, in the amphitheatre in Pompeii, playing pre-Dark Side release versions of the songs that later became so famous, as well as earlier psychedelic songs. At amazing volume, so that your hair blew back. And David Gilmour, barefoot and sitting in the dirt, playing blues to a dog, that howled along in tune.

At some point, some kid blew a police whistle right next to us – no, they hadn’t stopped running around – and thanks to the awesome speaker banks, it sounded like a thin little peep. Probably during this one:

Or maybe this:

Sublime, all of it. We staggered out, dazed, after Floyd – I have no idea to this day what happened afterward – and I have been looking desultorily for the movie ever since.

And now some of it is found, on YouTube. To enjoy all over again. Thanks, Paul – for he it was who transported us.

To delight.


About Ed Rybicki

Ed is a 60-ish virologist and biotechnologist, formerly a Zambian and presently a South African. He is into family, virology, biotechnology, science in general, science fiction in particular, photography, red wine, wearing loud shirts, 70s rock, blues and smooth jazz...and telling stories. Sometimes, interesting ones. And writing for his own amusement.
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