The old cinema is gone! Sure, it was little more than a glorified tin shed, but I saw some great movies there. Some were so good that I’d forget all about the spine wrecking canvas seats, and the stifling heat which could melt the Cherry Ripe in your shirt pocket.
Mr. Upton was Gladstone’s unofficial babysitter. Each Saturday afternoon, parents would dump their brats into his care, then speed off home to do whatever it was parents did when left alone for a couple of child-free hours.
Meanwhile we’d be imprisoned in a poorly lit confined space, watching two movies and a cartoon. And without fail some clown would either roll bottles down the aisles, or throw half chewed Mintie’s at the big screen. Quite often they’d get caught in the act, lit up like a rabbit in the spotlight of Mr. Upton’s big silver torch. “You! OUT!” he’d holler.
Faced with the boredom, and social shame, of standing alone outside the cinema, he’d point at the people sitting nearby and squeal, “They were doing it too!” As a result, the rest of us would be frogmarched past tutting patrons, to the footpath outside.
Later, when our parents asked if the movie was any good, we’d lie like crazy, hoping they wouldn’t ask how the show ended.
As a teenager, I once made the mistake of asking a girl to the movies without first checking what was screening. It turned out to be a particularly shocking horror movie. Fellas, screaming like a little girl and spraying soft drink all over your date’s dress, is seriously going to wreck your chances of a second date with her; or anyone else.
Nowadays my children have only ever known soft, upholstered seating in air-conditioned shoeboxes with amazing surround sound. The modern multiplex killed the old cinema and the Saturday afternoon matinees, which is a real pity. Because one movie is barely enough time to dump off the kids, and race home to indulge in a certain adult activity that we parents enjoy while the nippers are out; sleep!