It's an expedition these days for my darling to attempt the local cinema, because it has lots of stairs — and he has lots of arthritis in addition to lots of years. It's an old building and the new owners, a local woman and her family, have just refurbished it. There's no question of them going to the expense of a lift or escalator as well, even if the building could accommodate it, which I doubt. Most other cinemas nearby have stairs too. One which has a lift requires a long walk for Andrew, pushing his wheely walker, and then we have to ask the staff at the lolly shop to mind it for him during the film. At least the local is close to home, and was showing the film he wanted.
We got there early on purpose, found a parking space almost outside the door, and sat down on a handy bench to wait until they opened up, reading together from my Kobo. When they opened the doors, we went upstairs in our usual manner: him clinging to the rails and inching up slowly, me coming behind with a firm, supportive hand on his back.
Then we had coffee and got chatting to the young man presiding today, the new owner's son. He was just as nice as his two sisters, whom we met on our previous visit. When he learned that Andrew had been a film editor many years ago, and that moreover it was his 83rd birthday today, he said we must stay behind after the movie and go up into the projection room to see the new digital equipment, so different from the old projector — which they still had, as a piece of history.
There were more stairs up into the theatre. We sat in the second row of the dress circle rather than climb any higher. It was a good vantage point for saying hello to people we knew coming in after us. Hard to go to our local without seeing folk we know; one of the nice things about a small town.
We loved the movie despite the fact that, now that I'm an old lady, realistic battle scenes make me weep for the tragedy of it all. I was amazed to read that it was based on a children's story. Tough kids they'd have to be! And probably not very young ones. Be that as it may, the film was beautifully done, another Spielberg masterpiece. Luckily the war was not the whole point of the story. It was about love — between family members and friends, humans and animals. That's all I'll say — no spoilers.
After it was over, the young man, Dan, helped Andrew up to the projection room at the back, and I followed to look at the equipment too. I tried to appear intelligent while they discussed the finer points. Dan dashed out to do a quick clean of the theatre, then returned to set up for the next screening, just at the touch of a button these days, and helped Andrew back down. We encountered old friends coming in for the next show — kisses all round, and birthday wishes for Andrew.
In the foyer, an elegant oder woman (but nowhere near as old as us!) asked if it was we who went up to see the projectors.
'You must be the famous mother,' I said. 'We met your lovely daughters last time we were here.'
'Yes, aren't they lovely?' she said. She was indeed the new owner, and said how honoured she was that we'd come to her theatre for Andrew's 83rd. I told her that her son was lovely too and she said, 'Oh yes, Dan's gorgeous,' with a big smile over her shoulder at him.
She offered to help us down the rest of the stairs to the outside, but I blithely said we'd manage. He clung to the rails again on the way down, while I kept close behind clutching his belt and refusing other kind offers of help from people coming in. Then I held his hand along the short passage to the front door. There were two more steps onto the street. I went ahead to help him down them, but he stood there, saying, 'I think I'm going to have to find somewhere to sit down,' then promptly did sit down hard on the first step. It was almost a fall.
A young father, walking past with two schoolboys and a dog, was next to offer help. This time I didn't refuse. He supported Andrew in standing up again and getting to the car, fortunately only a few steps further.
When we got home, Andrew had a long rest before dinner and I contemplated the wisdom of our plans to return next Saturday to see Iron Lady. There is a magic in seeing something in the cinema; nevertheless, maybe we'll decide to watch Iron Lady on DVD in our living room!