Slick flicks
23 Feb 2002
And so to Warner Village, Basingstoke to see Gosford Park. We have refined the arrangements so that the minimum effort is required to book tickets. Warner Village is one of my "favourite" websites. It knows where I live, my Christian name - Hi, George! - and my taste in films. It recognises my credit card, debiting my account before I have logged off. It reminds me that, once booked, the tickets are non-returnable; and to take my credit card with me to the cinema.
After one or two swipes, the machine in the foyer disgorges the tickets, they are ceremonially torn in half by an usher, who helpfully directs us to the correct screen for our preferred film. We do not invest in a pint of fizzy drink, or a gallon of popcorn, preferring to watch films in comparative silence.
When we went to see "The Others" - the last film we saw there - we were almost alone. The rest of Basingstoke had either seen the film, or concluded it was so frightening they didn't want to see it. So we watched it in isolated terror.
It did serious damage to our perception of life in a country house, so we reckoned we ought to see Gosford Park to correct this distortion. Not every stately home can be occupied by several generations of dysfunctional ghosts.
Assuming that everyone who wanted to see Gosford Park would also have seen it by the time the Youngs had got there, we arrived in time to see Messrs Pearl and Dean advertise lager. The cinema was packed. We went into the front row, taking off our spectacles to reduce the screen size to something more manageable. We lent back as far as we could, so our eyes were raised to the screen without cricking the neck, and let inter-war England wash over us.
And very good the film was too, if slightly overpopulated with characters. Like most of the rest of constituents in North West Hampshire, the Youngs attempt to do their own housework, so we identified more with those downstairs than those upstairs. We admired the performance of Maggie Smith, and recognised that, probably, we had ancestors rather like her.
At the end, the lights went up. The audience was almost exclusively middle-aged or higher, recapturing an age that is lost forever. Not everyone had worked out who had done the murder so, ever the helpful local MP, I talked those constituents who appeared confused through the plot. Some may not have seen the film, so that is where the column ends.

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Copyright Sir George Young Bt. 2015