May 17

Last night Rach and I went with Emma to see The Painted Veil at Roseville Cinema. We were the youngest people there by a margin of approximately forty years.

Old people (a.k.a. “senior citizens”) are forever going on about youngsters ruining their night at the movies. I’ve read many letters to the editor on this topic; tales of young people using their mobile phones during the movie, throwing things at the screen, making noise, running around, and so on. Well, let me tell you, old people know how to fuck up one’s cinema experience as well as anybody.

Even before I went inside, it began. I was waiting patiently in the “candy bar” queue, about three from the front, when a demented old biddy breezed by on the inside clutching her thrippence-ha’penny, heading for the counter. She demanded immediate attention, wondering aloud why she could no longer purchase aniseed balls for tuppence a hundredweight, as she did the last time she went to the movies in 1936.

The theatre itself was quite full. We were an island of youth floating in a sea of senility. As the pre-movie ads rolled, I ate my choc-top with a growing sense of unease. More old people were filing into the theatre, surrounding us on all sides. Their wheezy murmurings were starting to get under my skin.

As the lights dimmed the volume of elderly chit-chat didn’t drop. The movie was rolling, the story was beginning, and these old farts were still crapping on about the prunes they had eaten that morning, or Mabel’s hysterectomy, or whatever.

I couldn’t concentrate on the film that I had paid good money to see. I did the turn-around and scowled at the lady across the aisle, hoping to scare her into silence. I could see Rach was annoyed too, and I was on the verge of a general shush when the noise finally began to subside.

During the film the elderly misbehaviour continued. One guy in the audience would guffaw at the most inappropriate moments. When Edward Norton said to his wife, in all seriousness, “Sit down, or I shall strangle you”, this guy laughed like it was the funniest thing he’d ever seen.

The old bat behind us specialised in the running commentary. Perhaps her husband was deaf and blind, I don’t know. When Naomi Watts suddenly threw up – clearly from morning sickness – she leaned to her husband and whispered “She’s pregnant”. When Edward Norton was on the verge of death from cholera, his face grey and gaunt, struggling to say a few last words to his wife, she insightfully commented, “He’s dying”. Gee, thanks for the explanation.

Were old people always this annoying? Not in my day.

One Response

  1. Snubian » Blog Archive » I’m giving it five stars. Margaret? Says:

    [...] Although the cinema was mostly empty, we had to put up with the usual array of irritating patrons. Four elderly cinemagoers (from roughly two hundred empty seats they chose to sit directly in front of us) spoke in wheezy whispers at key points in the film, to our extreme annoyance. We had to “shush” them twice. They would also tut disapprovingly or groan with exaggerated melancholy at appropriate moments. (I’ve written about this before.) [...]