“Daa da da da daa. Daa daa daa.”
Small pleasures, part 1: Popping in to [insert name of record shop] on the way home from seeing a great film and buying the soundtrack to listen to when I get home. Last year brought many such delights, including ‘Winter’s Bone’, ‘The Social Network’ and ‘Never Let Me Go’.
I think this tradition stretches back to the ‘Superman’ double vinyl soundtrack which my Dad bought me. Well, actually, after my sister griped that she didn’t get a present, we had to share it – though since she was only two at the time, it ended up in my care. (If you’re reading this now, sis, I bagsy Record 1 as it contains the majestic ‘Planet Krypton’.)
Obviously, going to the cinema was a whole different experience when I was growing up in the 70s and early 80s. ("Was it, grandad? Tell us more.") We got a Silly Symphonies Disney cartoon, a B-movie (usually a 15-minute Disney nature documentary), Pearl & Dean ads, local ads, cinema food ads, an intermission for the ice cream tub lady, trailers and (finally!) the main movie – every screening seemed to last all day. All for about fifty pence. But no-one paid, as there was always an older kid who let you in through the fire exit. And adults were allowed to smoke if they sat on the right-hand side of the theatre. Which I always found odd, as their fumes still obviously drifted across the whole auditorium anyway. And every cinema reeked back then, so it made no difference.
Perhaps my oddest childhood cinema experience though was when I went to see ‘Airplane 2’ with my nan and cousins. It was one afternoon in 1982 – so I would have been 11. And we’d driven to some unfamiliar, all-but-empty cinema in south London – possibly Purley Way in Croydon. Expectations were high. But they were about to get quickly grounded as the cinema manager came out and explained there was a fault with the projector. But he had a plan. And that plan involved wheeling out a 17-inch TV and sticking on a video copy of ‘Airplane 2’ !? Now, looking back at the age of 40, a few questions come to mind. How did they have a video copy of ‘Airplane 2’ when it had only just been released in to cinemas ? Did they ever actually have a copy of the film on, er, film? Why didn’t we ask for our money back ? And why did we continue sitting in the back row trying to make out what was showing on the screen two dozen rows away when we could easily have moved to the front of the virtually deserted theatre?
I do miss those cinema days though. Staying in your seat for the next performance. Joining the mass sing-along of "Butterkist! Butterkist! Ra-ra-ra!" and shouting "Hey! Crusader! Have you any nuts?" at inappropriate moments. And 3D films were just a silly, headache-inducing fad that you’d endure but all along wish they’d just made the thing in 2D and focused a bit more on the narrative structure and character development. Oh … ("See what I did there?")
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