The Porcelain Gentleman

A definitive guide to the land of lavatories

Vue Cinema – Islington

Vue 1

The Setting:

‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’

Ah Ferris, with his bourgeois rebellion, chirpy approach to truancy and butter wouldn’t melt attitude to criminal damage – how could we have known that this would become the mantra of a whole generation? Yes it may have an element of cardboard cut out Alain de Botton, but there is something distinctly timeless about it, and, unsurprisingly, it resonates more and more with each passing year.

We live in an age where most men only feel truly aroused when shouting the name of a postcode at Siri. Where the ‘hash’ button is not some moribund corner of a telephone’s dial but a legitimate part of a headline on which many a media careers may hang. Most remarkably, we live in a time where Sinead O’Conner is a sage voice of reason. So one wonders; is the wheel of Ferris’s thoughts now spinning so fast that a generational gap now occurs in under a decade?


However Mr Bueller – there are some things that resist. Some things that are almost the same now as when they first stumbled from the womb of their inception. Yes the pad and pencil may have been replaced by the liquid cyrstal touch screen, but in space, has man truly stepped any further than the giant leap it took across the Moons Cheddar Gorge in the 60’s? Have some things managed to duck and cover from the bullets of change?

One setting that seems to have got to the 21st Century whilst still looking, feeling and being exactly how it was when your granny went with her beige hosiery and casual racism is – the cinema.

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The Establishment:

At face value, the robustness of the cinema industry is nearly as perplexing as the romance that surrounds it. Leaving the sofa, low lux levels, television and home prepared food of your living room to then go and sit in a dark room miles away to watch a large screen and eat a whole kilo of Skittles sounds like a rather badly thought through decision, yet the masses continue to march to its door.

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Hanging out in the cinema foyer helps greatly in explaining this. There remains a sense of occasion – even though the screen is not much larger than the monstrosities that lax Korean trading levies have meant occupy most homes –and that until it is printed and distributed on disc, – you own the story; you and only you can critique the film, credit the supporting actress and passionately expound the undertones of the films geo political motivations – which, you can assure your listener, are only truly understood on a 100 foot screen.

This occasion of sensory delectability spreads to the food and beverage arena. Popcorn is now entirely mainstream as not only is it easily microwaved, but is available in every shop, chucking it in your face and mocking you for doing something as archaic and twee as eating crisps – yet here, where they serve you the ubiquitous exploded kernals in a bucket the size of your coat, popcorn is a grand gesture, it is unique, spawned by the buttery gods of the cinematic realm.

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As ever though, actions speak with far more conviction and pertinence than any utterance and a chap (pictured), at the cinema on his own, of an age where pic’n’mix should have lost some of its pre-teen shine, loaded up his bucket of sugary trinkets and quaffed them, whilst waiting for his popcorn to be served, with such ferocity that he ended up having to simply pay for the empty pot. This remarkable turn of events could surely only occur under a circumstance of elated importance: the ‘big screen’.

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The Toilets:

In most cases, toilets in buildings that cater for potentially a large amount of customers will adopt the rather depressing layout of having everything pressed tight to the wall like they are undergoing some sort of humiliating search by an American state trooper, leaving a large barren piece of space in the middle, whose only function is to ensure that on the three large steps from the urinal to the basin you do up your fly.

Vue however, has instead put the sinks in the middle as part of an island feature with the finishing’s and colour scheme that remind one of the spaceships that were built for movie sets for films in the 80’s. It’s fantastic.

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Mirrors thus are back to back, not side by side and so, rather than some self aware cursory glance at oneself that is protocol in the men’s under normal, linear mirrored circumstances, one has carte blanche to rearrange hair, adjust clothing formation and generally configure your look to the requirements of your date.

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That said, the thought process behind bringing a date to the cinema, unless your relationship has punctured the 6 month threshold is rather unfathomable. Taking someone you barely known to a darkened room for 2 hours whereby little or no interaction takes place to then, upon exit exclaim ‘gizza snog then’ surely stamps all over normal social conventions and behavioural patterns and therefore can be a concept only attributable to marketing campaigns by those companies that wish you to frequent their premise and watch their films regardless of your dating status.

The Porcelain Gentleman:

Going to the cinema should be an experience that feels dated, full of old people that think the ‘internet’ is a complex insurance scam. Yet somehow it has retained a certain sense of vitality, without actually changing anything.

It’s almost as if people like to indulge in an activity that is unscathed by the sands of time and thus the cinema industry has kept the whole process and institution looking and feeling the same as it ever did. Except the loo’s, which in Vue took a very forward thinking approach to sanitation facilities – 7/10

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This entry was posted on October 25, 2013 by in Misc..

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