When I was a child I loved going to the cinema. If I could have gone everyday I would have. I loved queuing, popcorn, I loved the anticipation of waiting for the curtain to go up. The merchandise stand. The trailers were a highlight surpassed only by the feature itself.
How did it come to be that the boy who loved going to the pictures could come to so despise the inconvenience of having to leave the house to see a film. As it stands these days I have to use the cover of daylight for my quick forays to the multiplex... ah multiplexes... to see whatever I'm after. I can't face going in the evening as I'll be surrounded by other people, damn them.
It's not all cinemas mind you. I'm a big fan of Chapter, my local art house cinema/arts centre. There's a lovely little cinema next to New Street station in Birmingham called the Electric where they used to sell home made cakes instead of popcorn. These are places that hark back to those halcyon days of my youth, or better yet; to a time when most films weren't rubbish and most cinema goers weren't idiots with heads full of glossy magazines.
My usual cinema of choice, the Cineworld, has become familiar ground. I know where I am with it's dodgy revolving door that I can't quite shuffle through without feeling like a moron; and the cashiers who seem to be praying for the blessed release of a sudden aneurysm. I don't mind that there's so much glass in the place that you feel like the animated Fox trying to ascend the Glacier Mint in those adverts the cinema loving child I used to be so enjoyed. I don't even mind all that much when I have to wait to enter the theatre in an inadequately sized room with a bunch of the strange, socially retarded weirdos that can't face going to the cinema when it's busy (which is to say people like me).
I thought I hated the Cineworld; but fate had a lesson in store for me.
I have returned from a sortie to the Vue. Where the ticket counter stands idle whilst the refreshment bar offers tickets. Where the volume so loud that my eardrums are playing a military beat before the film even starts.
Then there's the entertainment. When I was a boy you got a cartoon and the feature, maybe a trailer or two. Now you just get a stream of adverts beaten into your head while you sit strapped into a seat by your own money. Dross even worse than the tripe I mute at home in the advert break halfway through Peep Show.
Three Guinness ad's; a baffling short film that seemed to be about how cool being drunk is but turned out to be for Playstation Three, which is then revisited just before the trailers; two Mitchell and Webb Mac ads (may they burn in hell forever), and incidentally what is the naughty step all about - what you can't password protect content on the PC? Presumably Mac prefers to use the superinformation highway to submit children to snuff films, happy slapping mobile phone videos and dutch pigeon-fisting marathons; coke (Wayne Rooney representing the beautiful game); Carling; a bizarre advert that shows us that driving your car into children at 80mph is bad but at 30mph it's OK. Even better to avoid hitting children in your car altogether surely? That disturbing one with the superhero retrieving the girls purse who turns out to be the sort of lagered up throwback that 'OYOY's at you in the street on Sunday morning at eight o'clock when you're on your way to work and they've not yet made it home; an interminable nokia ad; a reasonably amusing orange ad and one that shows you what a pirate version of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer might have looked like had it been made fifteen years ago by someone whose equipment was antiquated even then.
When we finally get to the film trailers they seem to only last a third as long as the adverts did. Even so I was exhausted enough to leave then. I've just paid for that, I was thinking, surely the advertisers pay for their screentime? Am I being ripped off?
By the time the film starts I'm so mentally and emotionally drained I just want to come home.
Still, at least it was half price Tuesday.