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Going to the pictures...

Mike Gaunt

I’m going to be a little indulgent, if you don’t object too strenuously. I want to both drift a little down memory lane and celebrate a relatively recent innovation.

I am going to be talking about going to the cinema in Awali when I was a little boy.

I may end up embellishing the details somewhat, not through any desire to be inaccurate, but rather a slightly hazy, rose-tinted memory of the occasions.

Additionally, it has to be noted that we are talking about events which took place in the early to mid-sixties, so some items may have subtly altered with the passing of more than 50 years.

I would be permitted to make my own way to the cinema, sometimes collecting friends en route, as we lived by the hospital and I passed a number of friends’ houses as I went.

We would watch a film, often with a shorter, travelogue kind of ‘added extra’; but my abiding memory is that there were always Tom and Jerry cartoons played, too. I loved them: Still do, actually.

It would, I think, cost a rupee. This was in the days before Bahrain adopted the dinar and we still were using the Indian currency, as Bahrain came under the protection of Britain and there was a political agent in Bahrain.

It was a sort of historic legacy following the independence of India and before the independence of Bahrain.

Afterwards, we would all traipse off to the coffee bar which, if I recall correctly, was next to, or near, the commissary, where our mums would be doing the shopping.

We’d have a milk shake, sit on the tall stools, swing our legs about and then meet our mums and potter off home.

It was great! The result of this weekly cinematic treat has been a lingering desire to go to the cinema every now and again.

I went the other week, actually; I went to see The Darkest Hour and really enjoyed it. However, the point I want to make is this: Hasn’t the cinematic experience changed? For the better, I might add.

I was welcomed into a sort of plush, dimly lit lounge area by a lady and asked if I would like to order food and drink from the extensive menu. Chefs were beavering away in the kitchen, I could see.

I actually ordered something, slightly nervously, as I wasn’t sure what the dining arrangements would be.

Well, what a revelation! Sumptuous, reclining, business-class type chairs enveloped me and a nifty little table was smoothly swung out and my repast placed upon it.

I was able to watch from a recumbent position, with pillow and blanket, too. I was entranced, impressed and delighted.

The days of dusty, ill-lit, fleapits have clearly come to an end. The modern cinematic experience is one which I embrace wholeheartedly.

Apparently, ‘cinema’ derives from kinisi, Greek, and also is the root of kinetic, which means movement. I guess it goes back to moving pictures.

My Irish chums, by the way, see a ‘fillim’, my American friends ‘a movie’ or a ‘flick’, whilst we Brits go the ‘pictures’.

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