I fell in love with the cinema when I was four years old, a passion which has endured. I loved everything about it. The adventure of the bus ride from Cumbernauld to Glasgow. Walking through busy city streets to the Odeon, ABC, Lyceum, or La Scala. Choosing my sweets from the shop next to the picture house because my parents said it was cheaper than buying them in the cinema. Chocolate forbidden because it made you thirsty. Liquorice comfits chosen because you got a lot in a quarter and could make them last by sucking on the sugar shell.
There was the commissionaire in his uniform and peaked cap. The usherette guiding you to your seat with her little torch. The ice-cream sellers, with their lit-up trays. The ticket booth with its tiny window. I even enjoyed sneaking covetous glances at the sweet concession, though the heart-shaped chocolate boxes on its shelves were forever destined to be a treat too far. And, of course, there were the films themselves.
Those were the days of continuous shows. Main feature, support feature, adverts, trailers, an occasional additional short, all on a never-ending loop. If you missed the start you stayed until the bit where you came in and suddenly the film you’d begun watching two and a half hours earlier made sense.
I grew up on a cinematic diet of Disney, sci-fi, and creature features. The Jungle Book, King Kong Versus Godzilla, Dr Who and the Daleks, The Land That Time Forgot, Sleeping Beauty, Battle For the Planet of The Apes, Mary Poppins… all watched through a blue haze of cigarette smoke.