I’m off-road this week (metaphorically speaking), to the cinema. And don’t worry, I’ve not been to the cinema this week, not only due to current restrictions, but also because I am not a fan. In fact, personally, I can not imagine many worse ways to waste my money and time, other than gambling. Thinking aloud, and on reflection, there is the remote prospect of getting something in return from gambling, so it is probably a better bet (pardon the pun!). Spending £15 (or whatever the exorbitant fee is today) to; sit in the middle of a row, where I can’t get out for a pee mid-film; surrounded by people I either don’t know or don’t want to know; finding that the people that I went with don’t want to know me by the end of the film because of my fidgeting and grumpiness when I emerge from the dark depths of the theatre wondering why I wasted an afternoon or evening of my life, are in the most part relatively forgettable events. It’s just not my cup of tea…
Nor is the vicious cycle of popcorn and Pepsi. I buy a bucket of popcorn as that’s what you do (is it not?) and a bulk container, let’s call it a bucket, of Pepsi… so scoffing the nice warm popcorn makes me thirsty, and the resulting absorption of a bucket of Pepsi means that after only 30 minutes I am in desperate need of a pee, while faced with 90 minutes of checking my watch to see how long I have to put up with the discomfort. Eventually, I will give in as I am in danger of an accident or requiring medical assistance otherwise, so will have to move everyone out of the way, and then miss the highlight of the film and also spoil it for everyone else (James Bond, Spectre plane crash scene in the snow… missed the whole thing due to being otherwise engaged!).
As a kid, my cinema trips were to the Bijou in Mablethorpe, on the east coast of Lincolnshire, and it was called the Bijou for a reason, it was tiny, and the early trips to the cinema were very different to today’s. Not only were we were watching the latest releases that were most recently released to rent on VHS (so far behind it was laughable!), but rather pleasingly, half way through the lights came on… someone appeared with ice creams, and I could go for a pee without ruining everyone else’s night. However, these early trips to the cinema were not without an element of risk, as the cool kids on the back row would spend most of the evening bombarding those in front with fruit gums or other hard sweets… sometimes half chewed. Lovely!
It’s funny how the trips to the cinema that I do remember are memorable for completely the wrong reasons. 🤔
The first experience of the Bijou, or any cinema that I can recall, was mid-single figures… I bit into my half time Orange Maid ice lolly, swallowed and then realised it had taken my front tooth with it. This resulted in two things… 1) going into meltdown as I couldn’t comprehend how my body would cope with digesting a tooth, and 2) leaving the cinema early as I was hysterical. I also recall what was perhaps my first ‘date’ during my early teens, going with a girl to the very same cinema… I won’t mention which film or who I was with, but I recall spending the whole film worrying about at which point do you, should you, or is it acceptable to put your arm around someone while on a date. Needless to say, the only ‘sensation’ that I got was pins and needles in my hand from nervously gripping the armrest so hard for the entire film, and saving myself any embarrassment of getting this delicate art of courtship wrong.
At 13 or 14 years old, four boys (me included) arrived at the Bijou to watch ‘Lambada’. Even now, as I type, this seems an unlikely film title for a 14 year old boy… but the poster had a very attractive lady showing ‘quite a lot of leg’… with a caption saying ‘Go all the way’, so of course, we all concluded that we had to see this film as it must include content befitting of a 14 year olds imagination, and slipped through the net in terms of it’s rating (a ’15’, I think!). The outcome was absolutely predictable… victims of marketing perhaps… it was all about dancing, and ‘going all the way’ was about winning a dance competition or something like that! Whatever, we left quite disappointed, though fully seeing the funny side of our naivety.
There are more.
Later, during my first year at University… 3 of my hall mates were going to see Jarvis Cocker’s Pulp, live at the Hull Arena. I had a car, so was a very cost effective taxi, and next door to the Hull arena was the Odeon cinema. So I kindly drove them to the arena to watch Pulp, and trotted off next door to watch ‘Sense and Sensibility’. I am woefully uncool when it comes to most things, and music I am in general about 5-10 years behind the times, so I ‘wasn’t bothered about seeing Pulp’. What on earth was I thinking? Not least as I dislike the cinema so much, but moreover not seeing Pulp in their prime, when I had the chance, to go and watch a Jane Austen?!?! Wow, that is going to be one of those regrets that I take to the grave.
Finally… somewhere around the Millennium, though I am not entirely sure when, or what I went to see… it may have been ‘There’s Something about Mary’, which is a very funny film, but if it indeed was, it is again not why the visit was memorable. Adverts are rarely the reason for watching anything, but one advert during the warm up grabbed me, and has stuck with me to this day. ‘The world is getting hotter’… flames… ice melting… much environmental / climate change drama… then, ‘or say bo!!ocks to it, and have another Fosters’. I remember sitting in my seat laughing my head off… this was an achievement, not least as I hated the cinema, but also because Fosters is a truly awful beverage that spoilt many weekends camping at the British F1 Grand Prix as it’s all you could buy. I find marketing a fascinating subject, and when done right, it’s brilliant. This was a classy piece of trashy advertising that worked a treat, and the fact I remember it so well after this long says the marketing people did a VERY good job. Bravo! However, crucially to this story, another unforgettable night at the flicks, and yet again for the wrong reason!
Fast forward to 2021… the world and I have changed a lot. Were I to sit and watch the same advert today, I would not be laughing. Frankly I would be astonished that someone had the kahuna’s to put such messaging out there, as the world really has moved on a long way in terms of our understanding of climate change, and the serious consequences that it is likely to present. Living on the edge of the Fens, one of the areas the sea might yet reclaim in relatively short order, the medium term plan for my village could be to develop as an exclusive beach resort, despite being a good 20 miles from the sea today. The swell of opinion that climate change is real, driven by what I think most would agree is indisputable evidence, not just globally but also through the weather and climate events much closer to home. And while the Fosters advert was funny at the time, we really do need to take this seriously.
Yes, governments and international agreements are an important part of this puzzle – nay, the foundation. Policy and investment must be targeted towards how we transform, distribute and use energy as industry and consumers, otherwise we will not progress. But equally, it’s not just about Government and Technology… it’s about us as individuals and the choices we make. If the post war ear created the Jet age, and then the Digital age, my prediction is that the next 20 years will be the ‘Lifestyle age’. I believe that the choices we have to make, behaviours we will need to exhibit and fundamentally how we live will change more in the next 20 years, than they have in the last 60. And this won’t be driven by progress – it will be through necessity. We simply cannot continue living as we have if we are to do what we need to do in order to deliver a sustainable future for our planet, our friends, family, children and their children. Yes, government and policy is important, but it’s what we as individuals ‘back’ and ‘support’ that ultimately determine them, and how we live will also determine the majority of these strategies. At the end of the day – it’s about the ‘Supply’ and ‘Demand’ of energy, and how that energy is used that will save or break the world. And we generate the demand.
I’m incredibly lucky. I’ve seen parts of the world that many have not, though I can acknowledge that I am not remotely happy about the contribution that I have made through my resulting CO2 footprint. But having seen some of the places that are perhaps likely to change the most is really very sobering. I’ve long marvelled at the expanse of snow and ice that covers Greenland when I’ve flown to North America. It’s mind boggling how much there is, but also how beautiful it is too. I’ve even been lucky enough to drive across the frozen sea ice in the north of Alaska. The mere thought that those beautiful and important environments could be changed / lost forever because of our (my) behaviour is more than fuel enough for me to think what role I can play in this jigsaw. I’m not going to sell my car, live in a mud hut and disconnect from the world, but as I’ve said before… small changes can make a big difference.
I’ve started by not saying ‘bo!!ocks to it’, and making behavioural changes like turning unused lights off and turning the heating down… and perhaps never having another Fosters, ever again. I’m sure you’re doing your bit too.
But there really is much more to do!