I could probably have an entire category headed “Things that used to be fun but are now a total ball-ache.” There’d be plenty of things that fall under it. For now, the first thing I want to share is going to The Cinema. Now I am aware that this piece is longer than usual (after all I wrote it) but I felt it was fitting to wrap the whole experience up in one sarcastic little package.
To be clear from the outset, my opinion and experience is based on the cinemas in our local area. I can’t in all fairness speak for those near you. The cinemas we have tried have been limited to those massive chains which are in massive buildings, with multiple massive screens, so I may be jumping the gun suggesting that the average cinema generally fails to make this mainstream pursuit an easy/pleasurable one. After all, unlike some public places, at the cinema you can usually get in the doorway and move around once inside . . . but the experience is definitely lacking a certain cherry on top.
There are 12 screens at our nearest cinema. 8 of them have a few spaces for wheelchairs but they’re usually right at the front, some of them even an Oscar’s length away from the screen. Ok, so let’s just pretend for a moment that people in wheelchairs don’t require the same level of comfort as the able bodied. What about their companions? I don’t really want to spend 90 minutes pressed into my seat trying to keep the gigantic people on the screen at a less eyeball-aching distance. And if I want to inspect enlarged pores I have enough of my own thanks. SA doesn’t have the luxury of being able to even slouch to make the immediacy of the screen more comfortable for his aching neck.
So unless we want to be close enough to be able to smell what the actors had for breakfast, we need to opt to see a film that’s showing in a screen with a rear access box. This is a small, cordoned off room at the back of some of the screens. Our cinema has 4. But since screen information is not available online with the showing times, before you can choose what film you want to see and at what time, you need to phone to find out what screens are showing what. How very 90’s.
Having arrived at our cinema, we need to use the lift to get up to where the magic happens. There are escalators but whilst in an emergency, one may be able to wing it with a buggy, attempting one a wheelchair is just asking for trouble (don’t even ask). Thing is, the lift at our cinema, despite being state of the art in appearance, has broken down several times. Mercifully not with us in it, but there is never anyone who works at the cinema around to help (they’re probably stuck in the lift). Thankfully, there has always been someone in Frankie and Benny’s who knows the drill. Itsa no beegy, you can just use the service lift.
This special little cubicle is round the back of the building, where the shootings and muggings take place, at the end of a dark alley. We have been granted exclusive access on a few occasions. There’s nothing quite like being made to share a space with the odour of nappies and sick and just general stuff too offensive to be shared with the public to make you feel like a minority. Breathe in through the mouth and out through the nose and keep moving kids otherwise your feet will get stuck to the floor.
Back amongst the general public and somewhat nauseous, access to our “box” is via another lift to the first floor. So far, although I am juggling sweets, popcorn and the teas (to keep us awake) we’re still kind of having fun. Every square inch of the first floor is covered in that lovely thick industrial carpet and is seriously testing SA’s compromised triceps. On through a set of double doors so heavy they could only be lined with lead and therefore not opened with one hand or by a child. Our screen isn’t the first one, it isn’t even the second. You see that door at the end of the corridor? The small one? Well it’s small because it’s far away. Yes well, it’s not that one it’s the next one.
SA is stubbornly refusing a helpful push to speed things up a bit and has an expression of effort on his face like he’s trying to shit out a rhino. We finally arrive at the access box and the film has started of course, so it’s completely dark. The inconsiderate arseholes that are The Wheelchair Family announce our late entrance by throwing a shard of light from the doorway across the auditorium.
There are only 2 seats and the kids both sit down.
“I can’t see Mummy”. There’s a bar in front of the seats the exact height of a 7 year old’s eye line.
So Mummy goes on a mission to get some boosters and a spare chair for herself.
Someone has decided that having a supply of boosters in the room or even outside it in the corridor would be far too convenient. They’re not even in the mother effing bar at the end of the corridor. They are downstairs, stacked up in the corridor where all the “normal” people go.
It’s another 10 minutes before mummy arrives sweaty and slightly pissed off about the reality of this family of 4 trying to have a pleasant outing to the cinema. But, on the plus side the tea is now just right for drinking and mummy doesn’t need a plot recap as the film is some crap about Trolls with a plotline even Mr Blobby could follow.
By now there’s only about 60 minutes of this shite left so I settle back on to my bar stool and smile at SA smiling at the kids, who are both laughing their little asses off.