Sunday, 31 January 2010

A trip to the cinema

The door clicked behind me.
"Sssshit," I whispered as I frantically checked my pockets. I didn't care for the futility of such a motion.
I'd left the keys inside. Muppet! Idiot!
Mum downstairs has a spare, thank God for that. I race downstairs and knock on her door.
Silence; not even the familiar, relieving yap of her dog.
Shit. It's saturday night. Shit. Well nothing I can do about it now. Go to the cinema and worry about it later.
My bike! My keys!
I keep my debit card with my Oyster card. Clever mamma, clever muppet.
By the time I reach the bus stop, a hazy plan has formulated. Annie lives close by. I send her text asking what she's doing later, can I stay?
"Oh no! I'm in Manchester," comes the reply.
The bus arrives, I sit upstairs at the front, gaze out of the side window, see if any answers are skipping into view on the pavements below.
Who can I ask?
Issy had phoned earlier, suggested I come out in Brixton with her and a friend. I could stay, she'd said. I want to be close to home, I'd said. This is still my desire. Maybe what I desire should take a back seat tonight.
A school mum? How embarrassing! Mother On Whose Shoulder I Dropped My Head wouldn't mind. But oh the shame nonetheless!
I've stayed at Arty's house before, she'll rescue me. No, I can't ask her! Her partner stays at weekends, I can't, I can't!
Is it really such a clever idea to go and watch a film? Isn't it cleverer perhaps to sort out my accommodation for the night?
The bus reaches Cambridge Circus and I alight.
There's a long queue outside the Curzon Soho. I watch trailers of forthcoming films on a screen in the window, try and empty my mind.
Maybe mum downstairs will be back later. Maybe the whole family, teenage kids and dad, just took the dog for a walk.
"What film are you going to see?" I ask the two men behind me once I slide out of view of the screen.
"The Prophet," they answer.
"Oh I was going to go and see that with my friend, but he couldn't make it, so I thought come and watch White Ribbon instead, probably a better one to watch on your own, even though The Prophet is good on your own too but some films are better with friends aren't they?"
They don't seem to mind that I'm figuratively foaming at the mouth and we fall into chat.
"I've locked myself out," I eventually say.
"Oh no!" they laugh. "Don't worry, you'll be alright."
I grin and nod my head furiously. Mad mamma.
"White Ribbon," I say as I reach the ticket desk.
"For how many?" asks the clerk.
"Only one. Has it started?"
"The film doesn't start until 6.30."
"Oh ok cool, I've just missed the trailers."
"£12.95 please."
"What?" I think. Too late to turn back. Though when it comes to the cinema I never turn back. Shocking, always shocking what they charge.

People in the aisles, sitting next to coats.
"Are you on your own?" I say to a man.
"Um, yes," he answers looking at me.
"So can I sit next to you?"
"Oh, oh yes," and he removes his coat from the seat and places it on his knees.
The ads are playing. I haven't missed the trailers!

The film begins, shot in black and white, the tale of mysterious goings on in a German village pre World War 1, narrated by a man looking back on these events.
It begins with the doctor riding home one day when his horse trips over a wire strung between two trees which by the next day, is removed by somebody no-one has seen.
Following this, the farmers wife is killed in an accident in the sawmill and the farmer's son wants revenge.
Meanwhile we've met the pastor, a strict disciplinarian, who canes his errant children and forces them to wear a 'white ribbon', the symbol of innocence and purity, until they are cleansed. Taking any parenting tips from this, I thought, social services would have me locked up in no time. Some of it is funny, but in that unbelievable sense; SO discomforting.
The baron's young son is abducted and beaten, the midwife's down syndrome son, is similarly assaulted and almost blinded.
The children display an interest in all of these crimes but is there more to it than simple curiosity?

The doctor, ending his affair with the midwife, is cruel, though the man next me laughed out loud. The midwife tells us he abuses his daughter; we're presented with this ambiguous horror through the eyes of his young son.
The doctor's daughter explaining death to her younger brother, which reminded me of some of the blogging mums here, is sweet but also shocking; not what you expect.
Haneke, the director, weaves humour through the teacher's relationship with the childminder. There are poignant moments in the film, a relief from all the disquiet. Malice and spite in this outwardly calm society, is always present.
In this 'whodunnit' you never find out who did.

I wished I had gone with somebody so at least I could say "Do you think it was them who did it all?"
"Do you think it was a precursor to what we know of German World War Two history?"
Very unsettling. A slow film, but superb!

I was starving when I came out, but no time for a quick dinner at The Golden Arches. It was 9 o'clock, best I head for the bus stop, best I head for home.
Maybe I could ask the single mother on the floor above me if she'll take me. She might be out though. Not every single mother is like me; some do have access to babysitters.
Maybe the girl who lives on my floor. But she's young, she's childless, saturday evenings are made for her!
I text Steve. He lives up north somewhere doesn't he? He's out with friends but worth a try. He texts back: "Of course you can stay.... It happens to us all." Bless him, it takes the edge off my panic.
I get off the bus and walk through the estate, not thinking of being afraid of the shadows in the dark. My heart is racing; boomboomboomboomboomboomboomboomboom.
As I walk down, the winter trees don't block my view of my tower windows. Mum downstairs lives on the left at the end. I begin to count down. The top flat is dark, below the residents are home. Down I go, down.
Yes! Her light is on!
I call her on the intercom. She lets me into the block. She meets me outside The Toilet on her floor, her slippers on, saturday night in front of the telly attire. She laughs and tells me not to worry as she passes me my spare.
I run up, let myself in, grab my keys, run down, put the spare through her letter box as she instructed me; her dog yap yap yapping away.
I run back in, close the door behind me, put my keys on the hanger. Go into the kitchen and switch the kettle on.
As I lean against the sink, relief washes over me.
Thank you my angels. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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