First up: an apology. It appears that the Blog War of 2013 has been well and truly won… by me. The hype around the much-feted Steve sBlog has died down considerably and I’m left only needing to update sporadically to ensure that my output is more relevant and interesting than that of my arch-blog-nemesis (and real life best chum). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I should have been resting on my laurels quite so casually. I apologise to the handful of faithful readers who (I assume) are waiting with baited breath for an update on my miserable outlook on the world around me. I’m sorry I’ve kept you waiting (and now delivered this load of tosh). This post probably isn’t very good. I feel like I’m offering you some chocolate, only to later tell you that I left it in the car and it melted and then resolidified in the fridge. We all know it’s fine, but it won’t taste quite right.
The truth is I’ve had a bit more work to do than usual in the past couple of months (or maybe I had less work to do than usual in the first few months). I’m not promising that I will be able to reverse this trend any time soon, but rest assured that I have at least noticed it, which counts for something, no? (No.)
Now for the matter at hand. I haven’t always hated the cinema – I can actually pinpoint a month in my life when I may have gone to the cinema so frequently that I ran out of films to watch. I say “pinpoint”, what I mean is “refer to in vague terms”. It was sometime in my first term at university (or maybe second), when a huge 16 cinema AMC opened up in Central Manchester. In order to generate hype, the cinema offered a month where you could get free tickets if you printed off a voucher from their website. Frankly, this was the sort of thing that students dream of, even better than the free beer being offered by bible society (nope! Not worth it), and given the cinema was actually nicer than the local (craptacular) odeon, we didn’t need much of an excuse to make the trip, frequently. Blessed with a sense of entitlement only seen in university students, we also used to sneak into a second movie after watching our legally free one, on the basis that the cinema outrageously limited its customers to one free voucher per day. Those were good times.
Since then, the times have become progressively less good. I still went to the AMC when tickets were £2.50 and the parking was free (makes sense), and I still went when the prices went up to £3.00 and £1 for parking. Then I moved back to London and realised the horror of the cinema in the city. Here’s the problem I face today: if my wife and I wanted to go to our local cinema tonight and watch the Alan Partridge film (for instance), it would cost us £22 just for the tickets. Add on to that maybe £3 for the cost of bus fare or parking (I could walk, but pregnant people apparently don’t enjoy that) and I’m well into the cost territory that is liable to annoy me. It may be cheap compared to, say, going paintballing, but when you consider the more appropriate alternatives, it’s a fair amount of cash.
The reason it annoys me as much as it does is that I am paying for something that I don’t really want. I don’t like spending time sitting in silence with my wife listening to other people drown out a movie with their chat and mobile phone sounds. The floor is sticky, the seats aren’t really comfortable and most importantly the pause button doesn’t work. If I need to get up, I miss part of the film. If I fall asleep (which has started happening every time I try watching a film in a dark room), I miss the rest of the movie, and have no opportunity to go back and try and watch it with my eyes open. I can’t start it when I want, and when it finishes, I have to wait for a bus with a load of drunks.
I realise this makes me a cheapskate, and a miserable one at that. I actually generally try to make the case for ignoring logic when it is inconvenient to me having fun, but the problem here is that I don’t actually find the cinema fun at all. I’m happy to spend money doing something memorably or otherwise enjoyable, but I can’t help but rationalise that in 3 months’ time, the films on at the cinema will be available on bluray DVD. I can buy the disc, cheaper than the cost of a single cinema showing, so it arrives on release date if I’m really keen. If I’m prepared to wait a bit longer, it will ultimately be shown on TV (albeit with bits cut out to fit around advert breaks), but then I figure that if I can wait 2 years to watch it, I’m probably not too fussed about the film anyway. Other people will probably just download the film when it is first released, but I’d rather not get into that. I have previously enjoyed pirated media, but I’m not poor and I don’t consider this an appropriate path for me to take any more.
When I was a kid, going to the cinema was a popular activity, both with friends or on a date. Apart from the fact that we were sometimes too young to watch good films (like that mattered), it was a really cheap way to spend time out of sight of my parents, not stuck in the house with them. I could be confident that (unlike our other hangout, McDonalds) we wouldn’t get thrown out for not eating enough food, and unlike the spot outside the train station, it stayed dry when it was raining. And unlike the pubs, being a child didn’t seem to matter. But now, I am not a child, in fact I own a house, and am a lot more like the parents I was trying to avoid. I’d much rather sit in my house (which conveniently separates me from the rest of the world which I am so reluctant to engage with), and enjoy the fairly comfortable life I have built for myself (we have built for ourselves). I like my house, and my nice television (plus the DVD player complete with pause button). I currently have something like 80 hours of films recorded, ready to watch, and no desire to go to the cinema.