Despite the fact that I know nobody will read them, I cannot resist the urge occasionally to write ‘guides to’, be it History, Subversion or Gardening; I just can’t pass up the opportunity to expostulate on what I know nothing about whilst my readers showing, as usual, far greater insight than I, do not bother to read in their droves. (Earlier in the year, having decided once again that I just ‘couldn’t do this anymore’, I stopped posting altogether and still scored more readers than I did last week!) I love to write these things but, weirdly, according to WordPress, what my readers most want to read about is me – and there is so little of it to go around. My life is so uneventful that it could be a Zoom concert by James Blunt: why anyone would want to know anything about it I cannot imagine. None-the-less, my life is an open book – albeit full of empty pages. If somebody were to make a film of it, I would be the intermission – Pearl & Dean would not concern themselves with the insertion of various advertorial mini-epics in preparation for my main event – never-the-less, every now and then, as fascinating as I find myself, I have to take a break from it and, ironically, the cinema is the ideal place to do so – isn’t it?
Well no, of course it isn’t. Somebody – possibly the God of Pissing Off Older People – has seen fit to change it all. There was a day – almost certainly pre-decimal currency – when I loved a diversionary couple of hours at the pictures. It was while I could choose my flavour of Poppet by the scoopful; before anybody even thought of salting the Butterkist; before some bright soul changed a Mivvi into a Solero. It was a lifetime before a trip to the cinema became the stress-fest it is today.
It starts with buying the ticket. I don’t want to choose where to sit. I want to be given my ticket by the en-kiosked, pinch-faced woman with the creosoted hairbun and all the charisma of a mackerel fillet. I am happy to be told where I will be sitting. Just give me the simple choice, ‘Stalls or Circle?’ I do not want the pressure of selecting row and seat number. I’m going to wind up seated behind a giant anyway. I really don’t need to choose where I’m not going to be able to see the film from. Just give me a ticket stub and a woman with a torch to light my way. Just give me a pack of Olde English Spangles to suck in peace.
I don’t want to sit behind somebody eating nachos through a megaphone. I really don’t want to sit in front of a family of four sucking eight gallons of Coke through a sump. I do not want to sit aside two people who are determined not to let the main feature get in the way of a perfectly good conversation. Who goes to the flicks to watch a film: that really is not the point at all. Who wants to focus on a screen that is smaller than the TV in an average student flat? Who wants to surrender concentration, even when the volume is cranked up to nursing home levels? I honestly do not need to know what’s coming up soon – I won’t be coming back.
And tedious my life certainly can be at times: it is not destined to be next year’s big blockbuster. It cannot be CGI’d into a Technicolor rollercoaster. Watching it through bi-coloured spectacles will not make even the slackest of jaws gape. The kind of mini-incident that punctuates its steady progress will not trouble a stunt double. The only thing that ever breaks it up is exactly the kind of thing that nobody wants to read.
And all in all, I’m probably happy with that…