Last night I went to the cinema with Robert. I have been friends with Robert for a goodly while and we socialise often, but until last night, the cinema had not been one of those places that we had been. I noticed this a long time ago, and when we made our new year resolutions I asked Robert to choose a film at some point in the year for us to see. And after eight months he found ‘Valerian’.

It may seem strange to be so insistent to engage in such a particular activity, but I love cinema. This expression is overused, surely most people enjoy films and the cinema experience. Obviously, I can never actually know if I am more passionate about film than the average person, but these are my words of love, they have been a lifelong endeavour.

The first film that I ever saw was ‘The Fox and the Hound’ I was around six years old and I went with my friend Katie and her family. I was spellbound, I cried at the film and we ate Maltesers from a box. One of the Maltesers that I ate was utterly solid. It’s strange the memories that stay with a person. From then on it was always an epic occasion to go to the cinema, mostly with my Uncle Dave and my brother. Uncle Dave also took me to my first ’18’ rated picture – ‘My Own Private Idaho’ it was a gritty art-house styled piece that we had to travel to London’s Trocadero to see. I was astounded by the quirky nature of the piece, my mind was blown. My Uncle’s first words post film were ‘That was bleak’. But for me, it showed me that there was so much more than the traditional commercial films with linear narratives. There was freedom and possibility to be discovered. Very occasionally I went with my Mum over the years, Snow White and Pretty Woman stand out, these times were special as I know how my mum mostly feels about cinema!

Part of my degree was in film. This gave me scope to watch some pieces of elegance, chronic boredom, trippy, sketchy, deeply horrific and unfathomable. Cinema for me can be a group or solo experience, both have advantages. With groups, I can talk about the film and by myself, if I go during the day, I sometimes get the whole cinema to myself. This feels like the most indulgent treat ever. A whole film, just for me.

The experience for me growing up started with checking times on Teletext and long queues on a Saturday afternoon. The tickets were bought at the booth at the front. Popcorn was a new development in my life at this time, as was the accompanying large fizzy drink. There was an apprehension of sitting in the dark waiting for the bright lights and the excitement when the film started to roll. The smell of the theatre is one that is fixed in my mind, a mixture of old and popcorn. Coming out afterwards into the sunshine, feeling that I had been to another world and even now it is an adjustment to make it back to the real one. I always watch all the credits at the end as a mark of respect to the hundreds and thousands of people who work for months, sometimes years to bring me the privilege of ninety minutes of escapism. Me and my daughter also have the associative game of searching for our own names within the multitudes.

In various places in my house are all the cinema stubs for pretty much every film I have ever seen. At some point, I will collect them all together and turn them into a massive picture and I know, without ever having made this, it will be epic and make me feel much smiley.

Valerian was a very pretty film with some dark moments and some beautiful comedic vignettes. Thank you for choosing a film Robert and giving me the time to experience my great love.xx

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