Recently, I had the chance to see my all-time favourite film - the original,1963 version of Jason and the Argonauts - on the big screen for the first, and probably only, time. I was determined to ensure that nothing marred this unique experience.
The screening was at a small, independent cinema, on a Sunday afternoon, and was prefaced by a documentary about the late Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion film techniques - his special effects being the film's main attraction. I expected this niche event to draw a small, well-behaved audience, rather than the popcorn-crunching, mobile-phone-addicted crowd that long ago put me off going to the cinema: this was truly a one-off for me.
There were, indeed, a mere two dozen of us, only one audible popcorn eater, and no mobile phone activity. There were, however, other distractions.
The first was the man behind me, who had both arms and one leg wrapped around the woman next to him, whom he was noisily kissing. As she didn't stop talking, he was only able to kiss her cheek, yet was somehow generating a revolting, wet, sucking noise.
Before the documentary started, I escaped by moving forward a dozen rows - only to realise that the green Exit sign to the left of the screen was now much more noticeable (I'm easily distracted by visual, as well as auditory, intrusions). As it seemed the lesser of the two evils on offer at that point, I opted to stay put.
|Photo: Peter Gettins Photography|
As soon as I'd settled into my new row, I spotted popcorn on the floor, which I was convinced would keep catching my eye. In reality, once I was focussed on the screen, I'd have needed swivelling chameleon eyes to see it at all. I stood up and pretended to rearrange my fleece on the seat next to me, while casually stretching out my left foot to kick the popcorn under a seat. On reflection, I suspect it flew beyond the seat and into the row behind me, where a family of three were sitting.
No sooner had I sat down, than I decided my fleece would be better placed behind my neck, in case I wanted to slide down and rest my head against the wooden seat back.
And finally, just when I thought there was nothing left to bother me, I spotted a half-empty, plastic cup abandoned on the stage to the left of the screen (now there was a symbol if ever I saw one). I couldn't risk it being visible once the lights were down, so got up, walked four rows to the front and removed it.
Yes, it was embarrassing that there were witnesses to my perfectionist fussing, but that fussing made the afternoon a 9.5 out of 10. In my world, that's as good as it gets.
And perhaps Ray Harryhausen, with his eye for detail and immense patience in perfecting his effects, would have approved of my efforts.