Thanks to Beth for setting me this challenge, designed - I’m guessing - to release my inner teenager. I’m fairly sure it’s something I’d never done before. Certainly not when I was a teenager - the town I grew up in didn’t get a cinema until after I’d left home, so until I learned to drive I had to go to see films with the unwelcome chaperones of my parents. And the teenage me, in attendance at an all-girls’ school, didn’t get to meet many boys to snog. I’ve probably been guilty of some flirtatious fumbling in a cinema screening at some point in the dim and distant past, but never at the expense of missing a film, and never on the back row. Partly because all my boyfriends have been short-sighted (hm, a coincidence?). But mostly because the back row was always a no-go zone for me. I saw it as somewhere that the bad kids hung out and too far from the screen for my avid film-going eyes. I love going to the cinema, and just want to immerse myself in whatever is happening on the screen. Dave and I used to go up to three times a week in our pre-Charlotte days. When Charlotte was little, it was my weekly treat to take her to the Big Scream at City Screen on Wednesday mornings, and watch a current release in a cinema full of wailing, bawling babies. There I frequently used to sit on the very front row so I could put her down on the floor and let her roll about after bits of fluff, crumbs of rice cake and other babies’ toys. If I was really lucky, she’d drift off to sleep, curled up with Stripey under a blanket.
Nowadays, as we don’t have readily available baby-sitters, Dave and I usually have to do a split shift if there’s a film out we fancy – I go on a weekend afternoon, and he goes on a weekday evening after work, and eventually we get a chance to have a conversation about what we’ve seen. (“What did you think of it?” “It was quite good.”) So this challenge was always going to be one of the more difficult to organise, assuming that it was my husband I was meant to be snogging. It might have been easier to take myself off to the flicks and launch myself at a random stranger, but this may have resulted in me being arrested and Dave being rather cross. It also had to be a film that we didn’t mind missing bits of.
I have a couple of friends that I do baby-sitting exchanges with from time to time, so having baby-sat for my friend Sally and her husband to go out for dinner earlier in the week, we suddenly had the offer of a night out. Cinema screenings are always awkwardly timed for toddler world – 6pm showings are too early, as the toddler is still up and about, needing tea, bath-time and stories. (You see, by “baby-sitting”, we mean going round to sit on someone else’s sofa and watching their telly - especially if they have a better Sky package - while the child in our care is sound asleep upstairs.) But the next round of screenings at 9pm is pushing energy levels and means a very late night if you know you’ll be up before dawn the following day.
But we hit the snog jackpot with James Bond 007: Skyfall. A film that we reckoned would probably have the same plot as every other James Bond (so therefore not requiring much concentration), that would contain Daniel Craig taking his top off, and that was still so new and popular in cinemas that it had extra showings at suitable times, including one on Sunday night at 8pm. Perfect. We had two free tickets left on our City Screen membership to use up and could reserve two seats on the back row online. So off we went.
Sorry, folks, there’s no photographic evidence of this one. And really, I don’t want to go into details for fear of being nominated for the blogger’s equivalent of the Literary Review’s Bad Sex Awards. (There was no sex, I hasten to add.) If I ever write a novel, it won’t be a romance. It’s not in my nature. Having picked up a revolting cough from our resident toddler, Dave and I currently sound like we belong in a consumption clinic, and are now so middle-aged that snogging generally gets interrupted by comments along the lines of, “Why did you put so much garlic in dinner?” “Yuk, that cough sweet tastes disgusting”, “Take your glasses off, they’re digging into my cheek” and “Have you quite finished?” The screening had sold out, so instead of being full of pubescent reprobates, the back row mostly contained responsible looking people that probably hadn’t wanted to be there, or who had picked it because they knew it was the one spot where they wouldn’t have someone kicking the back of their seats. We felt slightly abashed in their presence. To make matters worse, there was a spotlight positioned directly above us.
But unbelievably, a smooching Dave and I weren’t the most annoying couple on the row. The prize for that went to the German girl sitting next to me who (judging by the inane questions she kept asking) had plainly never heard of James Bond and seemed under the illusion that it was a slapstick comedy. She guffawed loudly every time someone fell over: either as part of a death-defying stunt, a passionate clinch, or a non-death-defying death. I’m not going to reveal the plot to anyone who hasn’t seen it, but there’s kind of a sad bit at one point, and she chortled her way through that too. And when she wasn’t chortling she was remaining oblivious to all the cutting one-liners, squealing at scorpions and Tube trains, coughing even more loudly than us, doing her hair, taking her very complicated lace-up stiletto shoes on and off, or wriggling around under her scarf. She was using the scarf as a makeshift blanket, having seen fit to come out in the world’s skimpiest dress, despite the temperature being about minus ten outside. It wasn’t minus ten in the cinema (and surely not with that hot and steamy couple sitting next to her!), but Germans are very good at finding draughts.
So yes, last Sunday night, I was a very middle-aged teenager. Thank you to Sally for baby-sitting, and thank you to Dave, my long-suffering and lovely husband, and very fine kisser. x x x