The air base cinema of my childhood was a primitive movie house compared to the grand multi-cinemas of today. Everything appeared much bigger when I was a kid, and this cinema was no exception. In reality it was probably a small building.
The seats were hard and hardly ergonomic. But who cared? As long as there was coke, popcorn and Maltesers at my finger tips and I could see the screen.
Being able to see the screen, you’d think is a given, but not for me. I have always been tiny and to avoid some basketball player sitting in front of me, I would take residence as close to the screen as possible.
I have happy memories of this cinema. A few hours of pure escape from reality – a time well spent.
At this cinema I saw A Night on the Town, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Boy Who Could Fly, amongst many other films. I loved the whole cinema experience from the moment of buying the ticket and choosing snacks. Once finding a seat I’d looking about, to see if I recognised any kids from school. I enjoyed watching the cheap slideshow advertisers promoting local services, followed then by the trailers. It was one massive happy prelude to the main feature.
It was at this cinema that I first saw Dirty Dancing. The film was in hot demand. So many people went to see the film. By the time my family reached the ticket box people were being turned away because every seat had a bottom. Something happened which I believe would have been unprecedented back then. The cinema staff agreed to have a second screening later that night. So for the next hour or so my family sat at the Sergeants’ Mess, drinking cokes and biding our time. And at 11 PM that night I finally sat down in the cinema to watch Dirty Dancing. Believe me! The movie was worth the wait.
My evenings spent at that cinema might have been utter bliss. But there was just one thing that could leave a blemish on the experience, and it had to do with the ladies toilet. No, it wasn’t dirty. It was a perfectly hygienic public toilet. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was the bloody movie poster tacked to the inside of the main door – promoting Ghoulies. With the ghastly by-line “They’ll get you in the end!” depicting an ugly, green, turd-like monster coming out of a toilet. Well! It wasn’t like I had enough hang ups bowel movements when I was a kid. Here was a child’s nightmare realised – THINGS in the toilet rising up to bite your bottom or something worse. So every time I used that toilet I always looked into the bowl. If anything was coming out I wanted a head start on it. I’d finish my business, wash up and dashed out of the toilet with lightning speed always with the fear that the ghoulie would get me.
I don’t think I ever really recovered from that poster. Most paranoid people look over their shoulders. Me, I keep an eye on the toilet bowl as I’m doing my business. Just making sure nothing dark and sinister climbs out. Apart from that I loved going to the cinema.