Tuesday 25 March 1986

…Had the morning in and got very bored.
In the afternoon we went to see Peter Pan at the cinema. It was good…

This must have been the 1953 Disney version of Peter Pan, which would have been showing at my local cinema as a Easter holiday matinee.

The cinema had existed in one form or another since 1914, when it opened as the grandly named Empire Cinema, with a thousand seats, gold ornamentation and electric lighting. Down the decades it was known as the New Empire, the Essoldo and most recently the Curzon, ballooning in the process from one to four screens.

Just the year before, in 1985, a fifth screen had been added, no doubt to reflect the then-boom in cinema-going. A sixth would follow in 1991.

There was a fancy dress shop in the foyer called Antics, which I used to find fascinating if a little unsettling. I never saw anyone go in or come out.

Smoking was allowed in all screens well into the 1980s, so long as you sat on the left hand side of the auditorium.

Then there were the same adverts for local businesses and services that were shown at every single screening for at least 25 years: a plug for a “family-run” painting and decorating store; a promotion for an Indian restaurant “not 100 yards from this cinema” (cue juvenile gag about it being “not 100 yards – but a million!”); and one for the town’s only music shop, from where, years later, I would buy The Complete Beatles Songbook and a TV Themes collection with the cast of Open All Hours on the cover.

Anyway, I loved going to the cinema when I was a child, but did not always make this sentiment clear. My 1986 diary occasionally gives the impression I was not particularly forthcoming or articulate, and today’s entry is one such example.

“It was good” could have been a tactful way of avoiding lingering on something I actually thought was nothing of the sort. It was more likely a concise way of dealing with something with which I’d already become disinterested.

By contrast, the film that I would see tomorrow would have a very different impact on me, turning out to be something in which it was impossible to feign disinterest.

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