Since I started working at the cinema I’ve begun to mark time differently. The films currently showing act as dropped pins, temporal markers. significant life events correlate with significant film releases:
Stopped seeing Nico: ‘the Martian’,
Jen came to stay: ‘Brooklyn’,
Applied to the civil service: ‘Suffragette’,
When I had a gushy hopeful feeling about Jonathan: ‘Carol.’
My parallel existence is this tracking device unreality of entertainment. As the cinema draws in the crowds for the dark winter, and the big screen thrives with spectacle and glamour for Oscar season; events in my day to day reality pitter away.
Maybe it’s time to move on. Gotta make a film poster for myself: advertise my good bits, my intriguing bits…. where are my sensible bits? Spinning off CVs for ‘bigger things’ I’m not sure that I want to do. Because what will they say about me when my credits roll? Cinema is an escapism, but sometimes when I’m working here I feel a little bit suffocated under a pile of other people’s popcorn.
Ms Rods ‘n’ Cones
Appears on Boxing Day ….
Here comes a wild eyed lady. Parading the suave grizzly bear style of matching manky coat, hat and hair -all matted together and stuck in greasy clumps. She’s 20 minutes late for ‘The Lady in the Van’. Plonking herself down on a stool in the corridor, she drops her wheezy wheely suitcase and 4 massive shopping bags full of xmas gift wrap tat. (We’re talking zoomed in reindeer face portraits on A3 size gift bags).
“It makes me very sad to come here alone. You see I used to come here every Wednesday with my blind friend. But she’s cut me out. She’s dumped me. We had a routine on a Wednesday. I’d pick her up from the home, we’d come here, then I’d take her out on my taste card. I was her only connection to the world of the seeing. She has no one. No you couldn’t give her those rods ‘n’ cones! Rods ‘n’ cones are what make up the eye you know?! If she got the operation and the gift of sight, that’d be it! She’d go over the edge. Couldn’t cope with colours and things. She’d kill herself ! Like her sister did!”
The thoughts of death and colour made Ms rods’ n ‘cones flash suddenly more sparky and wild! She sits and chats, and chats, and ruffles and forgets about her film. I offer to store her bags of shopping in the cupboard. “Oh no! Need to keep them safe with me, there’s millions worth of stuff here. My son has made it big time as a rapper!! He’s got a CD! helps me out. No leave the goodies!”
I imagine the tacky reindeers on the shopping bags raising a questioning eyebrow to this comment, scrunching up their polystyrene coats. She shuffles into the screen 40 minutes into the film. “oh shit!” she’s shouting “Is this the movie?! Is this it?? Oh put me at the front!” Here is a moment when the real life person in front of me eminates the character on the screen (Maggie Smith playing a crazy old cantankerous woman who lives in a van). Wow meta reality maaaan? Popped out and multiplied did this magic wizard whiskered lady. What a woman! “No you couldn’t give her the gift of rods ‘n’ cones. The old rods ‘n’ cones would tip her over the edge!”