JP and I went out together yesterday. Purely for pleasure. Not shopping for DIY supplies or a trip to the supermarket for groceries or hunting for those elusive socks he so loves but can’t find any more. We rarely go out but I couldn’t begin to tell you why that is so. We began with lunch at our local Chinese restaurant – salt and pepper squid, prawns with ginger and onions, stir-fried vegetables, egg fu yung and rice. All washed down with copious amounts of jasmine tea. Lovely. We were the only customers and had undivided attention as a result. Lunch was followed by a leisurely walk along the High Street and then we made our way to the cinema to watch The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
I’ve been a film fan all my life. From the age of five or six I recall Saturday mornings being spent at a local cinema which was only a few hundred yards from my home. With a shilling clutched tightly in my hand I queued with high expectations of adventure, excitement and laughter along with hundreds of other like-minded children. Of my shilling, I seem to remember that three quarters of it went on the ticket and the rest on sweets. When the usherette was spotted walking down to the front of the aisle carrying her tray of goodies, that was your cue to follow if you wanted a tub of ice cream because if you waited too long, she’d sell out before you got to the front of the queue. Nowadays, we queue for our sweets and refreshments before being allowed into the screening room and there are no usherettes to be seen there at all.
Occasionally there would be a problem with the film and the screen would freeze and or turn white. The impatient audience would errupt into a cacophany of boos, yells and much stamping of feet. Usherettes would appear on the aisles and shine their torches on various faces and try to silence us but they never succeeded. Only the the re-commencement of the movie ever did that.
There was a greater excitement related to cinema visits when I was a child. Perhaps it was the build-up to the film itself. The scrabbling for a seat (as near to the middle of the row so you weren’t disturbed by people coming and going and not too near the screen otherwise you got a sore neck), the hugeness of it all, the dimming of the lights and the curtain going up followed by the audience finally quieting down. Then Pathe News, Pearl and Dean and the British Board of Film Classification certificate appearing just before the film proper began. Nowadays, a visit to the cinema doesn’t generate the same anticipation and when my ears are first assaulted by the sound, I find myself wanting to shout out “It’s too loud, turn it down!” but I don’t and it actually never is too loud. Perhaps too, it’s the loss of innocence. I used to wonder how so many strangers in a film could suddenly all start dancing together, without making any mistakes and without having been seen to practice or receive instruction beforehand. My mother sang to herself all her life but no accompanying orchestra was evident – how did it happen in the movies?
Coming out onto the street at the end of the programme, I was always taken by surprise to discover that it was still daylight. The magic was over for another week and I ran home to tell my mother of the wonders that I had seen that morning.
JP and I enjoyed The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel immensely. It made us laugh, it brought tears to my eyes once or twice and we even know of someone who is making a success of doing something similar to the film characters in another part of India. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend that you buy a ticket and watch it soon.