The only way the County Bingo Clubs chain was going to get permission to build a bingo hall in Cumbernauld was if they agreed to build a cinema beside it. Without much in the way of enthusiasm, they duly agreed. Built in the bowels of the Town Centre, the County Cinema was basically a bricked-off corner of car park. It may not have had the panache of a classic art deco picture house, but it had 350 plush red seats and was a ten minute walk from my house.
The doors opened in 1978. I was fourteen and would have sat through almost anything, but indiscriminate though I was, even I had my limits. I passed on Abba: The Movie. Thirty years later I likewise successfully swerved Mamma Mia! though I was eventually suckered into watching it on DVD. One hundred and eight minutes of cinematic misery duly ensued.
Abba aside, the only movies out of bounds were X-certs. In the meantime I made do with U, A and AA classifications. Many of these films were, or became, cinematic classics – Star Wars, Snow White, Jaws. It was from films like these I began to learn about story telling, character development, and structure. Others were classic in their own special way. The trashfest double bill of The Savage Bees and The Incredible Melting Man will forever have a place in my heart. You can’t help but feel for Steve when his ear slides right off the side of his head and ends up dripping down the shrubbery.
A scant year later, armed with age-transforming green eye shadow, and enough maths skills to figure out which year I should have been born in to pass for 18, a whole new world of cinema opened up.