Last Friday, I took the notion to go to the cinema. It’s not something I do too often nowadays, unless there is something I really want to see. I went to the Everyman Cinema in Princes Square, and got an 11.00 a.m. showing of the new Tom Hanks film – A Man called Otto. The cinema was very, very comfortable, and the film was brilliant, very moving, and all around me I could hear sniffles, and I have to admit there were a few of my own as well. Afterwards I headed back to the church, did a bit of work in the office, headed off to Drumchapel to do my caring duties, and then back to Bishopbriggs for our Friday night fish and chips. All in all, it was a good day, and the film has stayed with me. I can recommend it.
I began to get nostalgic about cinema going, right back to my childhood. Growing up in Partick, we were blessed with three cinemas. My first experience was of the Saturday Morning Matinees in the Standard Cinema on Dumbarton Road. The first feature, if memory serves me, was usually Superman, and the second feature was Flash Gordon, which was always left on a cliff-hanger, so that you couldn’t wait to get back the following week. In between the two features, children would be invited up for a dance competition, doing the Twist, but I must confess I was never tempted. I couldn’t dance then, and I still can’t dance. Further along Dumbarton Road was the Rosevale Cinema, and when we were a wee bit older, we used to go there with our mum. That was when I fell in love with Doris Day in Calamity Jane. When I was a bit older again, myself and my pal, Gerry, would often go to the Tivoli on Crow Road to see thrillers, such as the Bond movies. They were good times, although, by the time I left school, these cinemas were either closed or turned into Bingo Halls.
When I joined the Passionists in 1975, at the Graan in Enniskillen, one of the unenviable tasks we were given as postulants was to try and supervise the car park on a Sunday, so that people coming to Mass – in their droves – parked in an orderly fashion, so that the car park could be cleared quickly in time for the next Mass. It was a truly impossible endeavour. On our first Sunday, the driver of a very flashy car ignored our directions and parked in a very awkward place. Unwisely, we put a notice on his windscreen telling him not to park there again, or words to that effect. It turned out he owned the cinema in Enniskillen, and was prone to giving the students free tickets whenever the director would allow it. Our hasty act put a stop to that for our class. Towards the end of our postulancy year, however, he relented, and I remember we all went out to see Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
In Dublin I went through a period of going regularly on a Sunday night to a cinema in the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, if there was something worth seeing. Next to the cinema was a Häagen-Dazs ice cream parlour. The pre-cinema ritual was to have a latte and an ice cream. My favourite ice cream is rum and raisin, which was on the menu, but the first time I asked for it they said there was none. I tried again the next time, and the next time, and the next time, each time saying “but it’s on the menu”. I seemed to get the same assistant all the time and I’m sure he wanted to hide every time he saw me, because he knew what I was going to ask for, and I knew what the answer would be. One week he wasn’t there, and I never saw him again. I must say I felt a bit guilty, in case I was the cause of him leaving his job. Another memory of that cinema was going with Fr. Pat Rogers to see Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which of course was in Aramaic, with English subtitles. Being a scripture scholar and a linguist, Fr. Pat couldn’t help talking and interpreting all the way through, oblivious to the sound of people trying to hush him up. I was totally mortified. These are just a few of my cinematic memories. I’m sure you have plenty too.
As ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.