Shift work. It's pretty much been part of my whole working life. It has its disadvantages, of course; the gradual erosion of any social or family life, the pallid complexion of one who is highly deficient in serotonin, and the undeniable mania behind the eyes of someone who hasn't had a regular sleeping pattern for eight years. As the title bar will testify, I am so very, very tired. But the advantages heave their massive guts all over the other side of the scale, many of them relating to the wonderful emptiness of London town when all you office workers and "children" are chained to the merry hell of your desks, or meeting rooms, or futuristic neural-implanted learning hubs, or whatever. There's nothing better than going to the cinema on a Tuesday afternoon and being in the company of nowt but a handful of the unemployed and unemployable, on their own, too poor to buy rustling popcorn and too weary of life to muster up any kind of noisy ejaculations of enjoyment, preferring to sit silently weeping into their trenchcoats. Well, that's what I do, anyway.
So it was a certain amount of apprehension that Mr JR and myself hovered down to the cinema last Sunday evening to watch Up 3D. And the apprehension rose higher than a wooden house that could never possibly be lifted by any viable amount of helium balloons when we arrived to find the cinema full to bursting with every card in the Top Trumps Film-Watching Irritants deck; the group of yobbish youths in hoodies chucking popcorn and swearwords around, the precociously talkative toddler who is a lousy conversationalist, the can't-stop-gassing-even-for-a-second friends whose chat, although low in volume, creates a constant and inescapable buzz that fills every nook and cranny of your aural passages like a group of particularly flexible and insistent wasps. A peaceful cinematic experience, I beamed into Mr JR's brain, this will not be. He glowered in telepathic response.
But! As the pre-feature short started, the cinema lapsed into an excited 3D silence. Perhaps the nasal pressure of the glasses are keeping normal flappy mouths bolted, I pondered happily! I began to relax as the heartwarming tale of the storks and the anthropomorphised clouds streamed through me. Aww, I thought, and ahhh. Hmm. That was very lovely, and there seems to be something wrong with my throat. I gulped the small lump that had formed down with some diet Coke and prepared myself for Up.
I had been warned about this. The first ten minutes, they had said darkly. Brace yourself. So I braced.
Two minutes in, my face was awash with hot, salty tears. This is absolutely, positively fine, I thought. Silent tears streaming down my face in response to something that isn't even sad - we had not even got into the couple's adult life yet - is perfectly fine and normal and focus on the key word here, silent. But they wouldn't stop. And the pressure was building. My throat was constricting, spasms were threatening to form in my gutular system, and the cinema was, damn them all! Still in noiseless awe! Scared to even breathe lest it set off a cataclysmic eruption of wails, I turned in desperation to Mr JR. He took one look at my damp, pleading face, and instantly began his pitch-perfect impression of Muttley.
The sound that this provoked from me was almost, but not exactly, "Pppffftthhhaaaaaaargh!" I was simultaneously hysterical with tears and laughter. That in turn prompted Mr JR's entrance into the bad, bad world of the bad, bad sound, with a perfect "BAH!" And that was it. The valve had been opened. The endless feedback loop o'noize had been established. For the next five minutes, the most beautifully moving five minutes of cinema you'll see this year, me and Mr JR honked, spluttered, barked, caterwauled, and when lung capacity allowed it, whispered furious accusatory obscenities to each other.
So I can only apologise from the bottom of my ridiculous heart to the good and amazingly well-behaved audience of Wandsworth Cineworld for not only breaking all of my stringent movie-going rules, but also ruining the best bit of the film for everyone. I'm so sorry.
And for those of you who have seen the first ten minutes of Up, don't, whatever you do, click on this link and relive those ten minutes without first informing all your family of your imminent emotional breakdown. And for Christ's sake, don't do it at work.