One of my excellent regrets is that I never ever got to see Laurel and Hardy live on stage. In the late-1960s, when I would have been 14 or 15 years old, my dad Sam utilized to take me to Belfast for a journey around Smithfield’s pre-owned bookshops. We constantly had lunch in the Kensington Hotel (it utilized to be on College Square East), followed by a journey to the neighboring Traditional cinema.
I remember being amazed when my daddy informed me he had missed out on the chance to see them when they had been in Belfast for 2 weeks in the summertime of 1952. Movie theaters were still the main source of reasonably priced home entertainment and Belfast had lots of them in the 1950s, many of which had seating for 1,000-plus. In a letter with a Midland Hotel letterhead, written to a pal on June 24, Laurel wrote of his time in Belfast: “Being our very first time here, they went full-blown to give us a real Irish welcome and didn’t miss out on a thing.