An Alternative Valentine’s Day
On a dark, gloomy drizzly bear of a grey day in Gloucester something must change. As the lover turns to the mother and says “happy valentine’s day dear”, the reply comes abrupt and to the point: “what? I’m reading the paper, stop interrupting me.” The third party checks the front page of the local paper, the date reads 14th February, 2015. So if there must be change, what comes to pass…
As pointless commercial calendar non-entities go, Valentine’s Day is surely the most corrupting, brazen waste of time and space that yearly affects our mood and cultural climate. Take a glance at the panoramic shop fronts of a moist Oxford Street, London. What is in effect fetish wear adorns the gloss and sheen of John Lewis and Debenhams. Both offer the public luxury of a pristine private lavatory to bypass the abject lack of facilities within central London (if you are caught short, check this https://www.tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/toilets-map.pdf). In reality, they are the ones defecating on society. These scantily clad panties and pink booming busts are the equivalent of placing a Nuts magazine at the sweet counter. Think of the children! Screams the Daily Mail.
Anyway, back to the International City of Gloucester. Recently recorded as bottom of the biggest 64 cities in the UK for job growth http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/mind-the-growth-gap-the-uks-10-best-and-10-worst-performing-cities-9986717.html (adding an ironic quality to Paul McCartney’s, When I’m 64), the Kings Square Debenhams comes similarly fronted by an army of racy mannequins. Clearly, the local clientele demand more clunge from their department store plunge.
But what to do before you reach the final climax of the day and sit, staggering and sleepy beside that loved one, left sweating in those neon nylon knickers of lust. How about a trip to the movies as they say in America? Mmmm…Such choice, Shaun the Sheep, Peppa Pig or how about… Fifty Shades of Grey.
Thomas Edison. Lightbulb moment. He checks the clock sixteen hundred hours. Dateless and complacent, the idea strikes. What better protest at both the worst day and probably film of the year than attending an evening showing of Fifty Shades of Grey on Valentine’s Day. In a sense of humour shower, he logs on, signs in and wastes £6.98 on personal satisfaction.
Joie de vivre flows through the veins as he is pleased to note that an 20:50 showing in Screen 10 has been added to satiate the demand for the already sold out 20:45. Such popularity reflects the success that has now been confirmed by this global scale hit http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/11415047/Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-breaks-box-office-records.html, even reaching beyond the Roman walls of the Gloucester citadel.
Snaring a Tesco £3 meal deal en route, (featuring a rather pleasant feta and sun dried tomato pasta) in his haste, tangled up in blue scarf, he storms the cinema. Ascending the glass-walled staircase, he races to the unoccupied cuboid sponge that calls itself a seat and eats. Shock, surprise. Surveying the scene, this usual desert of lino has people. A chaperone points each pair to the fastest queue. It is like Sainsbury’s self-service, only everyone is, wait for it…happy and holding hands. And this is Gloucester. In the most maritime setting of Gloucester Quays, two by two, a Noah’s Arc of couples impatiently awaits the grand opening.
A snake of dressed-up, often high-heeled ladies and tattooed, disappointingly non-moustachioed, but often stubbly men, drifts across the foyer blocking the stairs and leading to a logjam. All this, just to secure an already guaranteed seat for “the most anticipated release of February”. “Don’t worry, we have seats, but if there is someone in ‘em, I’ll kick ‘em out.” Such violence is never far away from a town in which the Youth Club is the Job Centre and mankind is killed on the street by machetes. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/26/man-charged-murder-gloucester-machete. The Rottweiler rules.
And now, for a true dog of a film. The early scenes feel like that grotesque Scarlett Johansson and Matthew McConaughey ad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO2fTlldqds, only we forget, Fifty Shades of Grey is an actual film adaptation of a popular novel and not a fragrance for men. Jamie Dornan goes from the resplendent, The Fall’s sneeringly sensual serial killer, to the remedial, seeing his face and soul to a career-defining franchise. Still, it is good for Northern Ireland. Though trading Holywood for Hollywood, it is hard to imagine the British tax payer seeing much of his accrued personal wealth.
Two hours and twenty minutes of sex scenes later, the film finally finishes and the love birds go home to chirp to the sunrise. Meanwhile, our hero, having lost his scarf returns home to debate the respective values of V-Day, VE-Day and VJ Day. Seventy years since the Battle of the Bulge, we now seem to value the bulging biceps and abdomen of one Jamie Dornan more than our veterans. Time for bed.