And so it was that I went to the cinema alone. I asked most of my colleagues at work if this would be considered strange in the eyes if the general public and I was assured that while it is unfortunate it is in no way considered the actions of a sex offender nor virgin.
I really wanted to see Invictus, but the missus was up north and none of my friends had any interest. And so after much hesitation on my part and eventual bullet biting I decided to go it alone. I was told people do it all the time. No one took into account however that I shouldn't really be allowed to do anything without supervision.
I planned the journey to the minute. Finish work, hop on a train, walk to Wandsworth Cineworld. This gave me 5 minutes to get the ticket and get into the cinema before the film started at 7.40. I even miss out the ads. Clockwork. Sadly I didn't take into account that Cineworld in Wandsworth doesn't hire as per usual, but instead goes for the peculiar tactic of hiring from the local creche.
On arrival I was happy to see that there were only 2 groups in the queue ahead of me. Of the 8 or so ticket windows available 2 had staff working. Fair enough. More than enough staff to cover the customers. The couple at the front of the queue were beckoned toward window number 3 where they ordered their tickets. At the same time the bloke standing in front of me (he wasn't alone - his wife was buying ice cream which he had loudly demanded) was called to window 7. Happily I stood at the front of the queue while new punters joined behind me. All going according to plan, but unfortunately it was at this point that all logic was sucked out of the room.
The couple at till 3 had little trouble collecting their tickets. Picked them up and off they went. Weirdly though - despite new customers joining behind me - they were followed by the Cineworld girl behind the glass. I don't know if they invited her to join them or if she chose to tag along of her own accord, but sure enough she fucked off. In reality it was probably to have a shit or something but if she was going to catch a film with someone I think it should have been me. They had each other. I had no one.
So now we're down to one open ticket desk and a steadily growing queue. It's all down to the poor sod currently serving Ben or Jerry. Unfortunately for everyone on that murky March evening behind the till there was nothing but a uniform and a human shape made of sponge.
The till seemed to sieze up while Ben or Jerry offered his cash. Confused, Spongey smacked the top of the screen in front of him. Nothing seemed to happen. But just to make sure he smacked the side of the screen. Still nothing. With both plans A and B executed to no avail Spongey got on the walkie talkie and murmered something I must admit I couldn't hear. Another bunch of people walked in and joined the queue. Spongey glanced in their direction then blankly stared forward again.
By this point I was sure that Invictus had started but I quietly convinced myself that I'd still make it before the end of the opening credits. Another couple of people joined the queue. They appeared confused as to why Spongey was just sitting there with a vacant look in his eyes and there was no other staff serving. I must admit I was feeling the same way. A further 10 minutes passed with no sign of movement and my heart finally dropped. Invictus was no longer an option, but I'd come this far and I was definitely going to see something.
Eventually a man with a tie on appeared behind the desk. "Ah-ha!" I thought to myself "the boss is here. Finally some sense will be buttered on this crazy toast." Wrong. The Boss went over to Spongey and smacked the side of the screen. He then peered up at the queue - now pretty huge - and then smacked the top of the screen. Stumped, he said something to a now livid Ben or Jerry. I was willing The Boss to call someone over to tend to a till. The queue was now approaching the door. Sure enough he bellowed "PHIL!" across the concourse.
Phil must have been a maximum of 8 years old but was clearly the brains of the operation. He immediately took control away from the Boss and tended to the broken till. He found the problem and dismissed Spongey to till 8. The problem? The till roll needed replacing. 15 minutes it took 3 people to change a till roll.
By the time Spongey had logged on to till 8 Phil had made short work of Ben or Jerry and sold me a ticket to the next available film, namely The Crazies. Objective number 1: see Invictus. Fail. But I worried not. I decided to cheer myself up by getting a massive tub of nachos. Also it was a pleasure to see Phil at work, especially after watching two shaved dogs try and run a ticket desk.
I went up to the food counter and was greeted by a friendly enough bloke who looked a bit like a slighty over inflated sex doll. I asked him for nachos. I shit you not I saw him pour some Doritos into a plastic tub and chuck on some jalepenos. He then turned to me and asked 'would you like cheese, relish or sour cream?' I told him I wanted cheese. He then asked 'both of them?'
Why would he ask 'both of them' after giving me 3 options? I reasoned it could mean one of two things. Either;
A) He thinks I've ordered 2 bowls on nachos
B) There's two types of cheese, eg Edam and Brie.
I'd be lying if I didn't say that I panicked a bit. So much rumbling through my mind, so I just said 'yes'.
I got two pots of yellow goo, one hot and one cold. As I walked to the designated screen I saw the girl from till 3 walk out of the ladies drying her hands.
And the film was shit.