Thursday 15 August 2019

Chilean Merlot: Cracked Cup

So I'm at the cinema earlier this year, watching, very possibly, The Favourite (if you haven't already seen it, don't) and I become aware of something cool and damp spreading around my upper right thigh. The first thought that goes through my head is Well, when you get to my age, you have to expect these things. I sit there, fairly stoically, wondering if this is going to be the trend from now on: bus journeys, crowded lifts, standing onstage in front of three hundred people, all the time wetting myself - when I realise that the top of my right hand is also damp. Spooky, I think for a time. Then, This is really challenging my preconceptions of incontinence.

Finally I work out that the plastic wine glass I acquired on the way in - containing a good measure of Chilean Merlot - has a crack in it and the contents are slowly running down my hand and onto my trousers. On the one hand, Thank God for that; on the other, I have to drink this fucking Merlot really fast before it does any more damage AND not spill it over my shirt in the process. So instead of tippling restfully in front of the movie, normally one of my favourite occupations, I have to get rid of the booze as fast as if they've just called last orders, at the same time trying to locate the area of damage while simultaneously working out if it'll be dark outside when we leave the cinema, in order to hide my shame. This has never happened before.

Some days later, it occurs to me that I now invest so much expectation, so much humble desire for a given experience when I take my drink into the local arthouse cinema that when something goes wrong my whole week is ruined, to an irrational degree. My whole month. I decide that, like war, this must never happen again. But how?

- Proper glass glasses in the cinema: almost certainly prohibited, on account of safety (a glass gets left on the floor, is trodden on, causes injury, panic) and public order (incredibly middle-aged, middle class, arthouse audience riots at the wholesale witlessness of The Favourite, starts throwing glass glasses at the screen). But worth keeping in mind.

- Tin mugs: unbreakable, not much use as a weapon, cheap and serviceable. Not too bad for drinking wine out of, either, if the enamel's still there, although you tend to feel like a character out of a Hemingway novel.

- Plastic feeding tubes which emerge from the armrests. Dial up your favourite beverage from your phone - using the handy app - and start drinking! Unlikely to become a reality, not in my lifetime. Also, disgusting.

- The Totnes solution. A couple of weeks ago, the wife and I were in Totnes, Devon, and I can tell you that not only is Totnes a ton of fun - picturesque, quirky and stuffed with bars and restaurants - it also has one of the most terrific cinemas I have ever come across. You enter through a diminutive street entrance (see pic) go along a slightly Expressionist passageway and at last emerge into what was, until relatively recently, a public library, now hollowed out into barn-like space with a full-service bar, tables, chairs, sofas and whatnot, all very companionably dotted around - and behind the bar, a really big cinema screen. You get your drink, make yourself comfortable at your preferred seating position and watch the film unfold in a completely relaxed and slightly deconstructed fashion. Genius. Not only that, but the films on offer mix the current (Rocketman, when we were there) with the classic (The Blue Angel; Wages of Fear) so that you'd have to go back every night, practically, to keep ahead. Genius, again. Movie and drinks combine in an equivalence of pleasure, rather than subordinating the booze to the level of mere plastic-glass add-on. I'm sure there are other places in England that do something similar; but it's the first time I've actually seen it. The fact that it's still slightly a work in progress - rough-hewn timbers, industrial nuts & bolts around the place - only makes it more fun, more delightfully spontaneous. Back at my local bioscope, I think they'd have difficulty tearing out the seats in order to make enough space: but it's got to be worth looking into.


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