My Old Video Shop – Revisiting The Past

People often say to me, “you really do too much Dave, you’re always busy, and you should stop, have a rest, slow down”. And I secretly agree with them, I do need to rest a lot more, calm down, de-stress.

BUT there are reasons I find myself continually on the go, part of it is to do with teaching, which is not a regular 9-5 job, you don’t clock off, you’re planning either on paper or in your head most of the time (hell sometimes I panic attack and get up at 3am to check again that something is ready for a lesson a few hours later).

But the other reason I don’t stop, and it’s something I’ve thought a lot about today, when I actually took time to just sit down (with Oscar hogging the sofa I may add as per usual), to have some time to myself, is that I start thinking back to my childhood. Arguably better times of my life (and I think many other people would agree with that sentiment).

And in this reflection, I stumbled upon ‘old’ photos from various sources on the web (who I thank in advance), of the Bentley estate. The one I grew up on. And the estate that today made me smile and laugh to myself thinking of it, and the times I had with friends, some now long gone, on their own paths, whom I do not see anymore, or pass in the odd street with a brief catch up and hello.

You see these photos all show a certain place which makes me remember some fantastic memories, ones that demanded as a kid, you just oozed your wildest imaginations around.

And I hope if you don’t mind me sharing stories which while may not make you laugh as much as me today thinking back to them, they will maybe get you to look back on old familiar places you had ties with and stories of your own.


Photos 1 & 2 above – The old Bentley Library – speaks for itself, a library, a beautiful building, and I can still remember that smell of books, you know the one I’m on about, as it’s in every library where hundreds/thousands of books lie in wait to be read. I remember all the little areas within it, the little reception desk at the entrance, the little colourful chairs for the children’s book area, and the place I first found an audio book (on four cassettes I may add!), of Peter Benchley’s JAWS. Having already been bitten (pun intended), by the film, I remember listening to this in the library itself until Mom was ready to go (these were the days when you could spend hours in a library and wasn’t it just so QUIET!!!) Bliss). I was mortified when it was closed down and then knocked down in the early 2000s. Incredible memories there, and I miss it.


(PHOTO: This photo of the OLd Hall was taken by W.J. Ashmore)

Picture 3 shows ‘The Old Hall’ (renamed over numerous years), which was at a time when a pub was literary round the corner from your house. I spent many a time in there on a Friday night before the chip shop visit with Dad, who always had to sit in the lounge when I was with him, as children were never allowed in the mythical ‘adult’ bar area. That little red door on the side you see in the picture is where I had to enter sometimes. A magnificent building.


(PHOTO: This photo of the OLd Hall was taken by W.J. Ashmore)

Picture 4 showcases quite a few memories all in contrast to one another. You see, in the distance is the aforementioned library, while on the right are the Bentley shops, that newsagent being a particular gem wherein me, or Dad would go to get my weekly Animals of Farthing Wood magazine (you know the ones where you’d collect part 1 at a reduced rate then carry on collecting the other more expensive ones by giving the news shop a subscription fee for them to order it in for you especially). On the other end of that spectrum, you see part of a zebra crossing post. This is the same zebra crossing I was hit by a car on in the early 90s. I remember getting off my bike, waiting for the traffic to stop, the car on my right stopping and signalling it was safe to cross, and then half away across the road another car to my left smacking into me and the bike (which acted as my guard or else apparently doctors said I wouldn’t have survived as it took most of the force from the impact). So yeah, even today, driving across that junction myself, it’s quite a mixed range of emotions that I have. But in this picture is something you can’t quite see, and it is just ever so slightly around the corner, to the left of the newsagents and that would be the Bentley Video Shop.

You could call it my sanctuary outside of home. And my goodness it was. As with the library it has that unique video/VHS smell to it which always greeted you when you walked in. And I remember the price of a brand new rental release too! £2.50 which I always remember being LOADS of money back then. Titles I remember off the top of my head renting from there was Masters of The Universe, Aliens, Terminator, to name but a few of those early day VHS Blockbusters. I also remember the layout, where walls were lined up with all types of genre, all in their own sections (new releases, those films that had been out a year so were still in demand so to speak), and then there was the side section, where you’d probably find me, the horror section, probably looking amazed at the back of a Nightmare on Elm Street 3 VHS cover, or looking at films which had sharks on the cover (the lady who owned the store I remember used to have films on a small portable screen at her desk by the entrance, and kindly watched a film once to see how much shark action was in one particular title before I rented it).

This little corner store was my whole world at times, and I remember other titles such as Ewoks Battle For Endor, Return of The Jedi, as well as The Goonies, Halloween 4, and other mystical titles such as Salem’s Lot going out on (Dad’s) rental card (even though they knew the titles were for me, since I was always in there, they let the age thing slide so long as Dad or Mum went to the counter with me to rent them out). I miss this place so much, especially when it closed also in the early 2000s, not being able to compete with those big chain stores such as Blockbuster video (bit of irony there since they themselves are not more). That small little video store alongside my folks, did more to get me into film and filmmaking as anywhere else ever did. The 5th picture (below), showing what the old VHS Shop looks like today, and I think there may even be a hint of the little letterbox that you’d return videos through if it was closed on the far left of the building.




(PHOTO taken by Dennis Harper)

The 6th picture (above), is pretty much a culmination of all these places being on the estate from reading books in the library (or listening to them too), to watching films from the video shop. The old Bentley Methodist Church, which I believe is still there. But the fact is, as kids, and with all our heads filled with the fantastic, I remember one summer (remember when you’d be out till 9pm on your bikes, not having a care in the world), that me and a few others kept a vigil from across the street or next to it as we were convinced beyond any doubt that it was always closed and looked empty because a Vampyre was secretly sleeping in there, in a crypt (which we had no evidence of one being on the property mind, a crypt I mean).

I remember all the discussions we had (I blame Monster Squad for some of this too, recently rented from the aforementioned Video Shop down the road!), even to how far we’d go to keep the local residents safe if it found out we had discovered its lair and came out after everyone! I remember the slight fear and trepidation of going up to the building, slowly and quietly trying to find evidence on the walls or by looking through the little barred up windows, only to be told off my some of the residents for snooping and to go home. Terrifying when you’re 8, but also fantastic to feel and remember! We never did find out if the Vampyre was in there, but we always made sure we’d have money to knock on the Van Man’s door opposite the church to try persuade him to open up his mobile shop to buy drinks and sweets to help us on our exciting and magical vigils.

And that folks, is why I sometimes find it very difficult to stop being so busy. Because if I do, this happens, and the memories flood over me immensely, of those amazing, fantastic, sometimes terrifying but arguably better days when the world was an exciting place and you didn’t have to worry too much like an adult (except for that Vampire secretly living around the corner to your house!).

So I guess you could say I run away, because if I remember them, yeah it does make me laugh and smile, but it also then saddens me beyond belief, because I’d give anything, and I mean anything to experience just a ounce of all this again. That laid back feeling, that mysteries you conjured up, that overworked imagination! The sitting on top of Bentley Church hill with the sun warming your face over a summer evening, watching the world from above with a carton of raspberry pop with a straw, because that’s what Bentley was for me. The place where I discovered my imagination and where I knew I wanted to make films.

Quite a paradox I guess, all this, but that’s why I don’t like stopping sometimes, because I remember these better days and it knocks me about lots, even throughout the smiling and the giggling.

I hope you haven’t minded me sharing this with you all. It’s been one of those days after all.

PS – If you’ve made it this far, next time this happens, I’ll tell you about the secret UFO hiding in the fenced off Severn Trent building down the road too!

POST SCRIPT – The day after I wrote this original blog, I felt compelled to revisit Bentley myself, and just have a look around, as I had felt very nostalgic writing this blog. I went back to the old Video Shop, and for the first time in over a decade I walked into what is now a charity shop. A wave of past emotions hit me, as I’d spent hundreds of hours in this place as a child and young adult, and well, words cannot express how much of a sensation it was. The past just came sweeping back, and to make the moment all the more perfect, I found a pile of DVD’s they were selling and what should be there, but one of my favourite films of all time… K-PAX.


After all these years, that old video shop is still encouraging me.

  • If I have missed any reference to who or where photos were taken from, please let me know so I can acknowledge people. Thank you.

‘Smile’ – A Short Horror – Coming Soon

This evening, myself, Kaushy and Troy decided to try something a bit experimental, so with no set script, merely just a story overview, my superstar of a nephew Finny, and wonderful local actress Noami Leeanne Millard, who we’d worked with on HOSD, we filmed between 6pm – midnight on a short horror film idea revolving around a creepy pasta tale that you see floating around the web every now often.

It was pretty fun, being creative on the spor too (as well as filming in my old bedroom back at my folk’s house!). Just being spontaneous and playing around with camera angles, without feeling too rushed or pressured was pretty unique for us all! And was a great exercise.

Anyhow, all filmed now, and I’ll be editing the results as soon as I can! For now, here’s a poster!

Smile Poster copy