It’s been quite a while since I’ve stood in line waiting for a cinema to open. I think the last time I did that was when I went to a preview of the first Harry Potter movie and I was the tallest person in the queue. And the only one not wearing a bloody wizard’s hat. But, on Wednesday, there I was – in a queue – waiting for the Odeon in Huddersfield to swing open its doors and let us into the darkened foyer.
The first thing that struck me was that there are some strange people in Huddersfield. A few of them were in this queue. Once we got into the cinema proper, and were lined up to buy tickets, one of the shone out like a beacon. As the queue was quite long, a woman who resembled Tick-Tock from Return To Oz offered the option of buying tickets from the ticket machines near the entrance. People leapt at this opportunity. Not us, we stayed in the queue. We were near the front and it was far easier to just hang on a couple of minutes.
One of the people who seized the opportunity to use the machines was a heavily tattooed man wearing a blue vest top. He’d already complained about having to queue up to get into the cinema in the first place – a proper bundle of laughs. He went to use the machine. And then he was back in the queue. Back in the spot he had, moments before, vacated to use this high-tech sophisticated ticket machine.
“They should have told us you could only use cash or a card to buy the ticket,” he said, genuinely shocked and appalled at the service.
Only cash or a card. To me, that seems obvious. They are the two most popular methods of paying for things. What did he hope to be able to use to buy his tickets? A cheque? Maybe he wanted to barter for a cheaper admission fee, employing haggling techniques rarely seen outside of a Middle Eastern bazaar. Maybe he wanted to pay for his ticket in goats, like a dowry. It was all I could I do to stop myself from turning round and asking him. But I didn’t. And now it’s a mystery that will haunt me for years.
I suppose he could have wanted to pay with his Odeon Premier Card, the loyalty card scheme in the cinema. It’s possible. No, really, it is possible. It’s highly unlikely. Even with the increased price of a 3D ticket – even though all the films seem to come out in 3D nowadays so, you could argue, 3D is the new standard – it’s highly unlikely that he’s racked up the points to see him rewarded in a such a way. We’ve had our Odeon card for a year or so now. In the time we’ve amassed enough points that we could, if we wanted, sniff an empty packet of Minstrels or other cinema-based snack. Not that we’d be so reckless with our hard-earned points. At the rate we’re going we’ll have saved up enough for a free ticket just in time for us to enjoy the free cup of tea and a biscuit offered by the Senior Screen on a Tuesday. Which is the same as a normal film, but filled with pensioners talking over it for an hour and a half about how so-and-so had died, or got married, or whatever.
Or constantly saying, “What did he say? Who’s that? What’s happening? Oh films weren’t like this in my day.”