I fancy watching a movie, so google away and up pops Mike Leigh’s Peterloo, it looks worth a punt, for the life of me I remember next to nothing about Peterloo from my history, some vague idea about it being about a bunch of blokes from up north with pitchforks, and complaints, some kind of social unrest, back in the day. I checkout the trailer and the vanilla/snowflake/leftie kind of bloke that I imagine myself to be decides it’s a movie I should see. ( This is of course is heavily influenced by the the fondest of memories of Leighs Abigail’s Party, who couldn’t love that time warp slice of the 70’s). Here we go I can’t resist:-
So I look up venues and find it listed at the Tricylce, a great little theatre in Kilburn in North-West London of which I have fond memories. Perfect.
Only when I check showtimes I cant find the Tricycle & instead it takes me to the Kiln Theatre. But I dont want the Kiln theatre. Stabbing my fingers heavily as I re-type TRICYCLE onto my keyboard in the firm conviction that pressing the keys extra hard will get me where I want to go. It makes bugger all difference, I am taken to the Kiln Theatre once again. WTF?
Eventually it sinks in, there is no Tricycle Theatre anymore, it has been renamed and relaunched as something called the Kiln Theatre.
OK so subdue my old man railing against the new, or slipping into a diatribe on the pointlessness of re-branding when the old ways were perfectly sound. Let’s be positive. Open minded.
I plan out in my head a dreamy evening, arriving at the theatre extra early, having something pleasant to eat, having a quiet drink, curling up with my new (old) book for a while, to read a little and then go watch the movie. Patting myself on the back for my good fortune in having freedom ( I need to keep doing this ) and in my choices for the evening I climb aboard the tube and just a few minutes later alight the jubilee line at Kilburn. As I walk down the steps towards the street I can hear the rain, then I see it, a deluge of biblical proportions cascading along the pavement. Bollocks.
I stand there for a moment, slightly lost, and bemoan my very existence in England, an Island not content to simply surround itself in water but to insist on being perpetually bloody drenched in the stuff from above.
There’s nothing to be done other than to summon up some old fashioned British pluck and head onwards, best foot forward, I slosh along the high road towards the Theatre, aqua-planing as I go, bloody country, bloody rain. Why didn’t I bring a bloody umbrella?
Five minutes later I arrive bedraggled, raindrops are dripping from my hair, I enter through a revamped and re-lit foyer, all softly hued in blue and red light. It makes me think for some reason of a rather grand brothel ( not that you understand I have ever had first hand knowledge, but simply how I imagine those louche fleshpots might be lit ) I buy my cinema ticket for one – that one who is exploring the art of the singular, zen style, I make my way to the restaurant area to have some dinner. The restaurant is choc-a-bloc, every table and chair occupied. My shoulders fall and I can feel my head inching downwards in dejection. But wait, salvation appears in the shape of a delightful waitress who comes to my rescue & magics up a table for one. Things get even better when she brings me a goblet of red wine the size of a goldfish bowl. Cat with cream I quaff a mouthful of rich red Peruvian vino & peruse the menu. Ah life is good in it’s moments, when you are at one with the singularity.
I order a chicken thing with potatoes, somehow deciding that this might be vaguely healthy and cover basic food groups. By my second goblet of wine I have schmoozed the waitress just a little, learnt she is from Athens & waxed lyrical about my times in her home City. She is very pretty and rather sweet, It then occurs to me that I am old enough to be her father. I placate my sense of guilt by thinking it could be worse, I could be her grandfathers age, but then maybe I am? Let’s not ask.
My food arrives, in a bowl. This irritates me, whats wrong with a plate? I should explain I have tableware issues, I have this weird aversion for instance to square plates, or octagonal plates, or glass plates, or in fact to any dinner plates that aren’t round & ceramic. I’m not quite sure what it is, but something about non standard tableware sets me off, I think I just find it pretentious and it then seems to make me strangely angry? Anyway, the bowl just irks me, rather than making me octagonally angry. The food is decent enough, though my new potatoes have been flash fried it appears. Now why would you want to boil a new potato and then fry it? Remembering I am zen I let it go.
Casting my eyes around the tables of my fellow diners & over-hearing snippets of conversation I have my fellow diners pegged as well to do, the kind of folks that live in expensive real estate & read the Guardian on-line & shop in Selfridges, they probably have a second home in Devon or Chiantishire or Puglia. Champagne socialists, every one.
Me I’m more of a Frexinet Fabian, I guess that just makes me cheaper.
As I chomp away on my schnitzel and double cooked tatties a bell rings out accompanied by a voice in trumpeting tones that announces the performance will begin in ten minutes. Cinema is getting posh I muse, but I look at my watch thinking that the movie doesn’t start for three quarters of an hour. Then I realise that the Tricycle, sorry the Kiln, has a cinema and a theatre. The bell is for the Theatre.
Suddenly there’s an exodus from the restaurant. In a trice ( not a tricycle ) the place is empty, save for me. I can’t quite decide which is worse, being the only single person in a restaurant full of people, or the only person in an empty one. Both seem equally odd.
The waitress with time on her hands meanders over and chats, she explains that it’s always like this when a show is on. Tonight local celeb Zadie Smith’s ‘White Teeth’ is on. I finish my meal and sup the last of my wine as I sit there feeling rather peculiar and with with the over-whelming feeling of missing out on White Teeth and not being one of the posh people.
I settle my bill which btw was far from cheap, but the waitress was far too nice, the wine far too rich and the tableware sufficiently absent of angles to make me complain. Then I saunter over to a seating area grab a comfortable sofa ready to curl up with my new ( old ) book. I picked up a copy of non-fiction of H G Wells and for a bloke that was writing a century ago I have to say he writes a lot of good stuff. On top of that he was a pacifist, left leaning & a visionary and that’s just the kind of shit I like. ( Or maybe like him at the time of writing this particular tome I can identify with the musings of an old fart ) But whichever it is I find myself contemplating a state of near bliss, where my full stomach, red wine inner warmth, and good book to be read on a leather sofa combines to take me to Nirvana. I could get used to this Kiln place, it ain’t bad at all, and maybe the old place needed a revamp. So you know what I take it back, its really rather pleasant.
I settle on the sofa in a state of excited anticipation, open my copy of ‘An Englishman Looks at the World’ but find that the writing is too small & blurred for me to read with my ancient eyes. No worries, I ferret through my bag and realise that I’ve left my reading glasses at home. Once again I try to read the script bringing the book just a few inches from the end of my nose, still nothing beyond a blur. My tourettes kicks in with “Shit Fuck Bollocks” said loudly in fast order as I slam down my book in exsasperation. I then realise an elderly couple are sitting close by, I hadn’t noticed, they both appear somewhat alarmed at my outburst.
I decide its a good time to go outside and have a fag.
When I come back from my cigarette I decide not to return to the Sofa, I dont want to frighten the old folks. Instead I head to the bar and order a coffee, its almost time to saunter down to the basement for the movie. Just one more thing, no movie is really a proper movie without munchies. I want chocolate. What chocolate do you have? the barman points to a small display of sweets, and a solitary bar of chocolate, of the smallest dimensions I have ever seen.
Is that it I ask? Yes, we only have that one. OK I figure, the movie won’t be a movie without it. I take it.
That’s £1.75 please Sir.
I think I have misheard him, maybe my hearing is going the same way as my eyesight. Come again?
£1.75 please Sir.
Fuck me, he did say that I say to myself.
Seriously, seriously £1.75 for this? I hold out the micro-bar between two fingers and doing my very best at conveying an air of incredulity, disgust and incomprehension all rolled into one.
My brain churns over the situation, I can’t possibly go into the cinema without chocolate. But this is a hijack situation. It’s like a ransom demand that you just can’t say no to. I think what evil people there are in the world, prepared to fleece the vulnerable, in need of chocolate. I pay up begrudgingly and walk to the cinema with an overwhelming sense of being a schmuck. I hate being a schmuck.
The theatre is almost empty, but some bloke is sitting in my seat. It hardly matters but there is the possibility of a last minute rush & though unlikely it niggles at me. If I take another seat then maybe I will end up having to move from it if there is a rush. Also I wanted this particular one for the leg room. I get stiff without it.
I ask the occupant of my seat to move. He’s a gent of advanced years accompanied by a lady of a similar time line. They take a while to get up and move, as I stand there waiting for them the feeling of being a bit of a fussy twit is rather strong and I wish I had just left them to it. The lights go down and the movie begins, I take my set. There is no last minute rush.
The movie is fine. the photography lush, but by the end I wanted to know more, about what happened afterwards. It was not a comedy. As I am not a cinema reviewer I dont think I should voice an opinion other than to say simply see Peterloo.
As I wander back to the tube the rain has stopped, it’s late, the air is lead heavy, the streets have grown quieter and the traffic has died away, I can hear my footsteps on the pavement, as I go think about how often I get annoyed by little things, or things beyond my control and how much fuss I make. So many pre-occupations with such a lot of rubbish.
I muse over the things that wind me up, like today hearing that my local Buddhist Centre is closed over the Christmas holidays. Closed? Why? They are bloody Buddhists after all? Why are they having a Christian holiday? And over-priced chocolate why does that piss me off so much? What about plates that are not round, or twice cooked potatoes, or people who read The Daily Mail, or Donald Trump and just about everything he says & even the way he says it. Amazon paying less tax than they should, what do I mean, paying no tax. Brexit, odious individuals like that twot Nicholas Rees-Mong. I could go on, I usually do, there is a ton of stuff that winds me up.
What is it about these unimportant things that I let myself get annoyed about? Chocolate bars at £1.75 are not so important, the rain will fall, whether I get annoyed or not, people will continue to read The Daily Mail, Donald Trump will always be a c*nt.
Why do I waste energy on crap like this? I think about that saying, or prayer, the one that asks to be granted serenity to accept things you can’t change, courage to change what you can and wisdom to know the difference. Maybe for me it should have an addition, to not fuss over shit that doesn’t matter and to concentrate on what does.
But £1.75 for a tiny bar of chocolate, you have to draw the line somewhere.