If you ever go to the cinema, you probably have a list of pet peeves. Noisy popcorn, sticky floors, squawky children, smoochy teens. Empire Cinemas have now come up with a list of things you aren’t allowed to do (use your phone, chat throughout and so on).
But since they’ve wasted some of it on things that are always wrong (littering, putting feet on seats), I’d like to propose my version. And it’s reciprocal, because not everything wrong with the cinema is caused by fellow punters.
- No latecomers admitted. They’ll tread on my feet and trip over my bag. If I can get here on time, so can everyone else. Cinemas, this also means you have to stop hiring the guy who has never used a till before on the opening weekend of Skyfall. If people are queuing for popcorn for longer than they would queue to buy an iPhone, someone needs more practice.
- No ice cream in small, cute tubs, at least not near me. I used to work at Blockbuster Video, just before the minimum wage came into effect. An hour of my life was valued by society as worth less than a tub of ice-cream. This was especially hurtful, because I don’t like ice-cream.
- No trailers about how piracy is bad. We’ve paid for £12.50 each for tickets, and I’ve just sold a kidney to buy some sweets. Don’t lecture the good guys.
- No social media updates. You’re at the cinema. You’re watching a film. This is exactly as interesting to other people as you being on a bus. Lest you be in any doubt, that is not interesting at all.
- No laser pens. I do understand that when a film is very boring, pointing a red light at it and moving it around may seem fun. It is not fun. It is tiresome. Stop it.
- No sticky floors. Cinemas, you sell the sugary drinks to children who aren’t always brilliant at holding things. So it’s your responsibility to clean the carpets. At my local Vue, it’s like wearing metal-soled shoes on a magnetic floor.
- Imax, you know that cheesy thing you do at the start of the movie when you crosscheck the sound and screen and everything? It’s a guy telling stuff to a woman, and she agrees with him. Kinda sexist. And kind of lame. You got my money already, stop trying to sell me the thing I’ve already paid for.
- The Empire Cinema list includes leaving to use the loo. Ok. Then stop showing films that need 40 minutes of cuts to make them a reasonable length and that will sort itself out. If 90 minutes is good enough for Woody Allen, it’s good enough for every other comedy.
Feud enthusiasts will be sad to see that Salman Rushdie and John le Carré have kissed and made up after fifteen years of insults and huffy silence, following the publication of The Satanic Verses. Or if not kissed, then each has at least said something distantly flattering about the other, which is the same thing where authors are concerned.
While this clearly is the mature thing to do, I rather pine for the days of great literary feuds: even VS Naipaul and Paul Theroux recently buried the hatchet. It’s ten years since Richard Ford spat on Colson Whitehead in response to an ungenerous review. And it’s a full 33 years since Mary McCarthy said of Lillian Hellman that ‘every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.’ Time for Hilary Mantel to call someone out, surely.