There’s something disturbing about modern cinemas, y’know.
Have you tried shedding a surreptitious tear in one?
It’s light enough to see, that’s the problem. Yes, you can find your seat without crippling half the audience – or yourself – in the process, but the intimacy of the dark – it is no more.
I sort of imagined that, what with the crowd being predominantly beyond middle aged and more than 50% female, a few other folks might be blubbing, but no. So I held my breath and dabbed as unobtrusively as I could at the tears.
I was terrified I might actually sob.
But I was brave. I coped.
I loved the film. Maggie Smith is superb. But I was also skewered by the twin Alan Bennetts. A writer (Alan) and a person (Alan) living his life – or not, as author Alan jibed. Piercing as only self can pierce the self. (Well we are talking writers, here.)
I came out happier in an odd kind of way. Determined to finish my latest book (76,000 words now) and basking in the glow of a few kind words uttered by a few kind people over the years.
Yes, more than once my writing has been likened – I blush to say it – to that of Alan Bennett. And having seen the film, I shudder to think what would happen if a van turned up outside – I can just imagine …
And then, what would the neighbours think?
(Dear friend who’s contemplating buying a van and living in it – you know who you are. Please, don’t paint it yellow, with a dish mop, if ever you plan to visit.)
But, seriously, I think what those people meant, when they said it, was that I notice what ordinary people do in ordinary situations. I notice ordinary things happening.
And I suspect those people are also the kind of people who smile a small smile at the mention of Alan Bennett’s name – and categorise him as gentle. The kind of author one sets alongside tea and a toasted teacake, in a genteel tea room in Harrogate, at half past three in the afternoon.
Well, if they do, the might try reading The Laying on of Hands. I found it at the bottom of a box when we moved and realised I hadn’t read it. Cosy? Forget the tea and teacake. A little vial of vinegar, perhaps?
And as for me. Well, my book is giving me nightmares. I mean that – the sleep-related kind.
Causing me to reassess a lot of things I’ve quashed in mental self-defence for many years.
Warfare, nuclear weapons, protest. The people we trust and the assumptions underpinning the world of the everyday.
And that’s why this post is short. And why there haven’t been so many just lately. I think I should get on with it.
If ever it makes it to film (I, who should know better, the optimistic pessimist, still live in hope), then I doubt if the audience will be composed, as Sunday’s was, almost entirely of elderly men and women wearing anoraks.
I mean, yes, it was raining. But anoraks? Some, even, matching?
And yet – I noticed something odd amid the rustle of showerproof zip-ups.
Red – solid red – has gone.
Where once every ramble was punctuated by visions of mature heads nodding a greeting above matching red anoraks, now they are navy blue, fawn, or black.
What was I wearing?
I, dear readers, was wearing my expensive, resorted-to-in-desperation, navy blue raincoat with distinctive white buttons.
Fortunately, the pockets were full of tissues. I could have passed spares around if needed.
But they weren’t.
I wonder why no-one else cried?
Alan Bennett, no doubt, would know.