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Wednesday, 29 February 2012


“Grab your coat, love, we’re going to Cineworld,” Sartre said. “All that I know about my life, it seems, I have learned in books. Wanna see a film.”
Simone de B grudgingly rammed her toes in too-small, too high shoes, mumbling “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” Then, “Wait up, I’ve lost me keys!”
She set her mobile dutifully to ‘silent’ and trotted out to tread the sticky pavements with her paramour, mindful of the damp in the air, the frizz it would make of her hair, “To catch a husband is an art; to hold him is a job,” she told herself for the look on his face, determined beneath the erroneously jaunty angle of the beret, was enough to prompt her to a wiser silence.
Had she not been such a beaten down little soul, she might have said, “Hey, Jean Paul, you know what Bargain Tuesday at Cineworld actually means, yeah? Cheap for us, maybe, but cheap for everyone else, too. It’ll bring ‘em all flooding in.”

When Sartre realised he’d left his wallet at home, Simone was happy to pay. “Buying is a profound pleasure,” she said, keeping hold of JP’s ticket. A whizz with thoughts, he was not to be trusted with a square of paper.

So it was that I, too, bought a ticket yesterday for “Tyrannosaur.” The timings meant that my choices were down to that, the Marigold Hotel film (uplifting comedy) or the Muppets. Tyrannosaur had been up for a BAFTA, a cheery clip of the wholesome Olivia Coleman, fresh from Rev, and offering prayers to God, had been shown on the telly so it had to be good, right?
The rating of 18 failed to register at the time. I’ve thought before: nothing higher than a 12A, but forgot come the vinegar stroke.

I snagged my favourite seat. Bang in the middle of the back row. What luck! The aisle feeds up to it meaning plenty of legroom. No one behind, no one in front. Perfect.
A grim French couple trudged up behind me, her tugging at her coat, him fiddling with cigarettes he could not smoke. They gave me a look and settled resentfully for nearby seats.
“C’est un outrage,” he purred.
“Sssh, JP,” she soothed, “In the face of an obstacle which is impossible to overcome, stubbornness is stupid.”

The film opened with a bang, a volley of expletives and a man kicking a dog to death. The audience, sparsely spread, Britishly aware of personal space, settled happily into their popcorn (£7.20 a bucket and a vat of nasty Coke. £7.20!).

A few people felt the need to text someone. I thought of Marigold Hotel with longing.
The first of the latecomers shuffled in, rustling their bags, Tesco, Wilkinson’s, Boots; pausing in the aisle, blocking my view, sniffing and barging into a happenstance row, trampling on toes. And then another, twin to the first, sniffs and blunders. The bags crackling as they sighed to a sit.
A couple, young, vigorous, the sort who’d snog, two-stepped the stairs, nearer and nearer …
I stiffened.
They wouldn’t!
They did.
They sat to my right. Right to my right, hard up against me. No gap inbetween. I bristled and lurched to my left.
A further couple sauntered in, reeking of smoke and chatting. They sat themselves hard to my left. I wanted to cry. Sandwiched by weirdoes.
Sartre chortled, “All human actions are equivalent and all are on principle doomed to failure.”
I consoled myself with leg room which was all that remained of my earlier seat triumph, and the man to my left emitted the first in a 90-minute long sequence of meaty little burps.

Fully 20 people trailed in late. The poor, the dispossessed shuffling in to watch versions of themselves on screen. I clutched my bag the tighter and pursed my lips and breathed through my mouth. Difficult but doable when needs must.

The film continued in merry vein. Olivia Coleman’s husband peed on her and she developed the first of many black eyes. She scowled at Jesus, hanging on her wall, and swigged on vodka. Joseph, the dog killer, smashed in his corrugated shed and sat on his sofa, which lay in what passed for his garden. This displeased a tattooed lardy chap in a wifebeater who lived with sundry similars, a defeated rag of a female and her sweet little boy. The tattooed lardy chap strained, like Ben Hur at his chariot reins, behind a pumped-up brute of a dog swaddled in chains. The dog snarled. The sweet little boy played with his teddy. A night out constituted lying poleaxed in the garden following a good kicking in.

“One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion, non?” Simone whispered urgently to Sartre.
“Wrong film for that, love,” he said, “Man is fully responsible for his nature and his choices.”
“But that poor little boy,” said Simone.
“Sshhh,” I said. The poor little boy was breaking my heart.

You know what’s coming. With a bleak inevitability, the teddy was sundered and the little boy sobbed over its remnants. But this was no mere metaphor for what was later meted out to Olivia Coleman and to the sweet little boy himself. Battered, eaten faces were presented good side first.

“Man is not the sum of what he has already, but rather the sum of what he does not yet have, of what he could have.” Sartre said to console Simone. She nodded, snuffling into her hanky. I longed for Kermit, Miss Piggy. Bloody BAFTA nominations.

Someone a row or 2 down sent a text.

Straws rattled over dying ice chasing the expensive swills of Coke. Echoes of chomps at the smelly noise of popcorn formed a susurrus backdrop to the quiet bits of the film. The quiet bits being almost worse than the noisy bits.
Joseph took a baseball bat to the dog and sat with its head on his knee. Just its head. I think it must have been the baseball bat which was up for the BAFTA, best supporting actor.

The man next to me burbled a worrying string of burps.

We learned that the tyrannosaur of the title was one who escaped the life on offer, but not without a spell as a blind, double amputee. Still, she was someone to envy, the one who got away. The other one who got away was found slumped in blood against a wardrobe circled by flies. A wake following the funeral of a third lucky, lucky dead bastard was the high point, the cheery bit, the laughs to offset the pain.
The film ended. It wasn’t the sort where you waited to see who did the music. It was one to run from into the night, whatever the night might bring you.

I legged it, pledging never again. I brushed past someone French. He was leaning against his girlfriend. He was complaining. “Jamais non plus,” he said, “Hell is other people.”
"Shurrup," muttered Simone, "Someone'll stab you."