Star Wars, Aliens, Zombies. Cinema firsts.

I’m not much of a film buff. I am occasionally persuaded to go to the cinema by my better half and even though I tend to gripe somewhat a lot beforehand, I usually enjoy the experience. However, I can only remember one time where I’ve visited a cinema alone – which was to see The Damned United. I even own a copy on DVD, but I don’t tend to watch it that often as it makes me cry. This is because I don’t expect to see Derby County win anything again in my lifetime, let alone The Premiership.

Anyway, the latest and 107th suggestion from Post40Bloggers is to write about your first cinema experience. As always, I’m going to bend the rules (what rules?) slightly and talk about my first three cinematic firsts instead.

My first ever trip to the cinema was with my brother to see Star Wars in 1977. My mother took us, under protest, to the long-demolished Ladbroke Film Centre in Chaddesden. Even as a mere thirteen year old I could tell that the place had seen better days. What had once been a glorious single screen Art Deco cinema had been turned into a failing bingo hall with two small upstairs screens where the balcony had once been. I remember the carpet being sticky with popcorn and something that was too orangey for crows. Star Wars seemed exciting enough at the time, but you have to remember that I didn’t have anything to compare it with. I haven’t watched Star Wars, or any of the many sequels / prequels since and I don’t feel as if I’ve missed out on life.

The second experience I’ve decided to recall is the first X certificate film I saw. I can date this precisely, to the Saturday afternoon of 24th November 1979. This was the day that the then European Cup holders lost to the mighty Rams 4-1. I know this to be the case as when I was traveling home on the 102 bus there were several people reading “the green ‘un” football special which had the glorious news splashed all over it. The joy was short-lived – Derby were relegated at the end of the season.

The film I saw? Alien. I fell in love with Sigourney Weaver, but not with the film. I’ve tried to watch it again a number of times, but I don’t think I’ve ever made it all the way through to the end.

My third cinematic first is from the summer of 1980. This was the first time I took a girl on a date to the cinema. To watch Zombies – Dawn of the dead. The one set in a shopping mall. With lots of gore and violence. Not exactly romantic. With hindsight, it perhaps wasn’t the best choice of film. Somewhere towards the end, there’s a particularly gruesome scene involving a helicopter. It certainly disturbed my companion, as she drove her very sharp nails deeply into the back of my hand. I still carry some tiny white scars from that evening today. The relationship didn’t last.

As I wrote at the start, I’m not a film buff. At all. But given my early experiences of the cinema, is it any real wonder?

You can’t have too many …

You can’t have too many …

Television Channels. When I was growing up in the 1970s, we had three – and these didn’t start broadcasting until mid-morning, finishing around midnight with the national anthem. My YouView box reports that I have around a hundred or so available and if I felt like disfiguring the side of the house with a satellite dish I know I could view even more. Three channels certainly didn’t mean better quality – have a look at the Radio Times archive for the 1960s or 1970s if you don’t believe me. Television didn’t start to get interesting until at least the introduction of Channel 4 in November 1982. Countdown. The Comic Strip Presents. The Word (ok, maybe not The Word). And where would we be today without the Top Gear Channel Dave?

Political Parties. One is never enough – the failure of single party states is well documented. Two certainly aren’t enough – it’s why the UK got itself into the mess it did before 2010 and why, no doubt, the USA will still be in a mess after the midterm elections today. Three seems better and four, five or six, each with a distinctly different platform and a willingness to compromise sounds ideal to me. Of course, we need to introduce the single transferable vote and multi-member constituencies to make that work properly and the “willingness to compromise” part my be a bit too much for some politicians, particularly on the far left and right of the political spectrum.

Cuddly Toys. I confess – I possibly do have rather too many of these. I’m 50 – I should have outgrown them by now, surely. But they are all so … cuddly.

Apps on an iPad. Look, I know I can never find the one that I need at any particular given time, but who knows when it might be absolutely vital to have an app on hand that shows me how much income tax and national insurance I’ve paid in the last year and to which of 15 or so arbitrary categories of spending it’s been assigned too. Note to George Osborne – it’s better to know the value of what we’ve contributed to society than simply what it’s cost. Personally, I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilisation.

Elephants. You definitely can’t have too many of those.

Elephant Soup… and I could go on in this vein all night I think. You’re probably relieved that I’m not going to if you’ve managed to read this far.

But what I really wanted to say is that there are definitely three things that you can’t have too much of (sorry, I know that’s not strictly ‘too many’, but, my blog, my rules and all that …)

They’re faith, hope and love. I think I knew that before the lymphoma struck, but I certainly know it now. Thank you, St. Paul.


And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


1 Corinthians 13, New King James Version

Written in response to this week’s #post40bloggers writing prompt