In 1970, me and three others were in the Granada Tooting, a cinema built in 1931 to accommodate 4,000 people. I was watching Tora, Tora, Tora, a film about the attack on Pearl Harbour. The cinema was therefore 0.1% full.
With me there were my dad, a friend of my dad’s and the usherette. There was a fifth, but he didn’t count, as he was the projectionist – he had to be there; the usherette didn’t – tubs were quite expensive and it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I realised I didn’t have an allergic reaction to raspberry ripple as my dad had suggested when I was younger.
The Granada Tooting closed, as a cinema, in 1973. With dwindling cinema goers and over-priced wafers, they had committed their own economic and cinematic Kamikaze.
Also, there was no atmosphere, unlike when I went to see Jaws at the Ruby, Clapham Junction (another cinema also sadly playing in the great picture house foyer in the sky).
It had been raining heavily during this 1975 winter’s evening as I trudged across Wandsworth Common to get to the cinema; I was glad of the protection once inside the Ruby. Sadly, the Ruby had seen better times and, due to the excessive rain, had sprung a leak in its roof. A consequence of this is was, as I watched the film, it felt as if I was on the boat with Messrs Scheider, Dreyfuss and Shaw, as I became increasingly wet.
It was like being there except they weren’t holding a Kia Ora on the boat and nor did they develop trench-foot a week later!
Plus the passive-aggressive usherettes in the Ruby were scarier than any Great White Shark!