Film ’76

This poncho may make me look like Clint Eastwood, but it’s certainly not waterproof, more water absorbent, I’d say, and every time I move another trickle of cold makes its way down my back. I can hear Mum now telling me ‘I told you to wear your anorak,’ but then when you are 14, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – the film you want to see more than anything else in the world to save you from a kicking from Graeme ’Killer’ Curtis – is an ‘X’, you’ve got to do everything you can to look 18, so the cinema lets you in. So anoraks are out, whatever the weather.

It’s not that I want to see this film – even watching Catweazle on my own freaks me out a bit, but  I’ve got to see it. I was jokingly talking about seeing it with Clive in the queue for the tuck shop on friday and didn’t know that Killer was behind me. Everyone is scared of him. He said that ‘two fannies like you would never get in.’ I knew he was right, but Clive stupidly said that we would, so Killer said, ‘OK then, so tell me Monday what happens in it to Billy, or you’ll both get a beaning.’  I’m not sure what a beaning is, but it’s bound to hurt. A lot.

So here I am, Sunday afternoon opposite the Odeon, Newbury, waiting for Clive and I’m soaked and fed up. I knew I’d got here early, but half an hour now I’ve been stood in the rain. As its Sunday afternoon all the shops are shut, so I can’t ever shelter in one of those, and I can’t wait in the cinema in case a teacher, or anyone who knows mum sees me. She’d kill me. I told her we were going to see The Apple Dumpling Gang. I even had to read the poxy book in the school library – well, some of it, just in case mum quizzes me about it or something later. God, it was a crap book, but I know what mum’s like. She thinks I’m still a kid and is already worried that I’m going to be home late for tea, and I’m bound to get the Spanish Expedition about it when I get in.  Clive and I had better get in to see this plebster film and find out what happened to that pleb Billy, or it would have been a complete waste of a free period as well as getting a bruising. I’m too scared to go up to the counter ask for tickets on my own as Clive will think I’m a right div if they turn me away for being too young before he gets here.  He’s taller than me and has started shaving, so he’s got much more chance of getting tickets than me.

Squeezing myself against the glass of Timothy Whites trying to miss the worst of the rain, I can see from my reflection in the window that the black pastel moustache I’d drawn has smeared all over my face. Still, with my poncho I think it makes me look like some sort of Mexican Freedom Fighter, and they are all over 18, so perhaps we’ll still get in – if that spaz Clive ever turns up, of course.  1:30 we agreed and now it’s 1:48.

This popcorn is ruined. 15p it cost me too – that’s a whole day of my paper round. I thought if I bought it first, they’d feel a bit more guilty about saying we were too young when we got the tickets later on and let us in. Now I’ve eaten most of it and the box is falling to bits with the rain. The popcorn that’s left is swelling up with the water. Clive can have them. Serves him right.

The film starts in 10 minutes I reckon. Inside, they’ll be watching adverts.  You know they are coming when the brilliant Pearl and Dean music starts and everyone joins in with ‘ba ba ba ba ba ba ba baaaaah, ba,’ at the end.  I’ve no idea what Pearl and Dean actually do. It’s a great tune though. Sometimes there’s an advert for the TriumphTR7 (I’m going to have one of those when I grow up) and another says you can buy a Kiaora drink and a hot dog at the front of the cinema, although the hot dog they show is always a foot longer than any you’ll ever get served.  They must think all us movie watchers are starving because the next ad’s always that one of the plane taking off while some Indian bloke tells you about a’ taste of the exotic’, then there’s a picture of the Taj Mahal, before it cuts to a restaurant, where a waiter in a turban or something, lifts a silver dish lid to reveal to the two excited diners what looks like a giant red turd surrounded with rice on a plate. Everyone watching always laughs or goes ‘irrr.’  Then it switches to another man with a completely English voice implores you to ‘visit the Curry Garden, Bartholomew Street, just 5 minutes from this cinema.’ I hate curry.  I’ve never eaten it – and I never will. I love the adverts, though. There’s still no sign of Clive. I’ll give him until 1:53, and then I’m going home. It’ll be the trailers for next week’s films we are missing now.  I’m not happy about this.

I look at the long white sign at the front of the cinema, and count the letters of the title:  TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. It’s 21 letters and 2 spaces, and even though they’re all squashed up together they couldn’t fit in the ‘The’. I bet the man who comes with his ladder to put the letters up hated it this week. It must have taken him ages. I wonder how many of each letter the cinema has? Ha – I wonder what they would do if they made a film called ZaZa the Dizzy Zebra or something. They would have to go round  and borrow all of the ‘Z’s from all of the other cinemas not showing it, and hoping that they haven’t got Crazy Zorro on, or anything like that. I bet the man loved it when it was JAWS (4 letters, no spaces).  It could only have taken him a picosecond to put that up.

Tim Stewart said that he went to see The Taxas Chainsaw Massacre on Thursday night and that him and ‘Jonah’ Barrington got in no problem. He said that the girl selling tickets fancied him. He asked her name, and she said it was Stacey, and he told her she’d got nice legs. Tim said that during the film Stacey came in the auditorium and sat between them.  She let Jonah touch her legs while he rubbed her tits. Wow. I bet that doesn’t happen to me and Clive. Things like that always seem to happen to Tim Stewart, even though his complexion is like a bowl of school semolina with everyone of the third year’s jam blobbed in it. Maybe I should go to the pictures with him next time.

***

Its 2:08 now and I’m in the cinema at last. Poxy Clive never showed, so I’ve plucked up my courage and gone up to the ticket lady on my own. I nearly change my mind when I see it isn’t that bird called Stacey, but a horrible ancient 40 year old woman. She laughs when I drop my voice and ask her for ‘one adult for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’ She says I have to be 18 and that it‘s ‘not for little boys like me’. Cow.  I cross my fingers and tell her I think she has nice legs. She asks me how the bleedin’ hell would I know, and that any more of my cheek, and she’ll call the manager.  She has a point, sat behind the desk for all I know she could have had the bottom half of a dalek, like Davros. She certainly has a face like his.

I say I’m sorry and ask if she knows what happens to Bill in the film. She says ‘how would I know?’ and that she’ wouldn’t watch such rubbish in a month of Sundays’ I try not to, but can’t help but start crying. I can sense that the people in the queue behind me are starting to get agitated, so I have no choice but buy a ticket for something the witch will let me see.

So here I am, pretty much the only one watching the poxy Apple Dumpling Gang. I threw the soggy popcorn in the bin – it was disgusting, and I’ve laid my poncho over the seat next to me to try to dry. The film is as expected – total carpage, the actors are complete plebs and, of course, I know what the ending is going to be. I at least I got to see the adverts. And I’ve worked out a well-good Killer survival strategy:

1 – Hang outside the cinema and ask anyone coming out looking terrified, what happened to Bill. If this fails…

2 – Not move more than 10 yards from the staff room door in breaks and lunchtimes for the next 3 weeks.

3– If this fails and Killer still bumps into me, I reckon there’s a pretty good chance that Bill got chainsawed. The clue is in the title, and Killer ain’t that clever.

Whether this plan works, or we both succumb to a beaning, one thing’s for sure – afterwards I’m going to hire a chainsaw and do far, far worse to Clive.

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