Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Pearl and Dean

It's a Saturday in October 1988.  October isn't known for sunshine but in my memory it's a sunny day and I am part of a long, snaking queue of children and teenagers that wraps around the front and side of the ABC Cinema in Basingstoke.
(c) Basingstoke Gazette

We throw sweets at each other to pass the time; shove our friends out into the way of people trying to edge past en route to the taxi rank and shout loudly.  Michael Jackson's Moonwalker has arrived and we can't wait to see it.

The doors open and we force our way through; frantically fishing for coins in our jeans pockets whilst straining to see how many people are running to the swinging doors that lead to the screen.  Will we get our place?

Feet pound like a drumroll on the patterned carpet as we race through the doors and force our way up the narrow stairs to find the 'best seats'.  They're near the back and grant easy access to a covered window which we plan to open during the adverts to let light in for a laugh.

We balance our buttocks on the edge of the flip-up seats, causing them to come down with a thud that sends up tiny particles of cigarette ash which reminds me of the smell of my nan's sofa.  The children call out to each other and throw Mint Imperials at the back of smaller children's heads.  There are no adults.

And then....the lights go out and a pale beam the colour of moonlight streams from the back of the room.  Dust dances and small hands raise up to interrupt its journey to the screen.  This action is something we will repeat a few years later when we start going to raves but for now, it's all harmless fun. The usherette flashes a torch around searching for the culprits amid shouts to "SIT DOWN!".
They sit down.  The torch goes out.  We follow the line of the now steady beam to the screen and we wait.  A fit of the giggles is met with a "SSSSHHHHHH!".

There is a crackle.

The screen goes from black to grey to blue.  And we know.  We all know what's about to happen.

We draw in our breath and sing as one.


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