Wednesday, July 04, 2007

June's Last Day

On Saturday afternoon, I checked out of the Hilton hotel in which I had spent the night. I had plans to visit my friend, Tom, and to go out to a club for the evening. Tom is a bit obsessed with going to the gym, so he asked me not to come over until later in the day, so he could visit his usual fitness center at his usual time. It wasn't worth him going early, just to spend more time with me. As a result, I had some hours to kill. I decided to stop home and write a blog, plus do a few other chores. My route home took me very close to a cinema I used to frequent, so I decided to treat myself to seeing a film.
I wanted to see "Spiderman 3," but when I arrived at the cinema, it was no longer showing. "Shrek the Third" was showing on three screens, which seemed a bit redundant, so they could no longer spare one for "Spiderman." Plan B kicked in and I bought a ticket to see "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" (try saying that three times, fast), instead. Having been an avid reader of comic books when I was a child, I am very familiar with the Fantastic Four. The Silver Surfer was a newer character, only just coming out as I started to grow out of my regular comic book habit, but I am aware of him as well. This film is the second motion picture outing for the Fantastic Four. I enjoyed the first one, although it wasn't "fantastic," pun intended. The sequel is one of those rare instances where a sequel is even better than the original. I found the film thoroughly enjoyable, escapist fare. It's suitable for the whole family and the special effects, especially of the Silver Surfer, are superb. An excellent example of adapting comic book heroes to the big screen. Jessica Alba, who plays Sue Storm in the film, looks gorgeous. There's a scene where she's in a wedding dress and she looks stunning. It's not surprising that she was voted the sexiest woman in FHM's 2007 poll.
After the film, I went home. I did the things I wanted to do around the house, including calling Tom. I offered to bring some DVDs with me when I visited, so Tom and I discussed which ones. Subsequent to talking to Tom, I spoke with Mucky Sarah. She had agreed to attend the club with me, that night. During our conversation, she suggested that I come by her flat early and we could record a podcast. Sarah also wanted to attend the new cinema at the O2 Arena, which is the renovated Millennium Dome. Run by Vue Cinemas, there was a special price of £5 for any film this past weekend, a discount off the normal weekend price of £8. I agreed to go to the cinema with Sarah, then called Tom back and invited him to go with us, instead of sitting around watching DVDs. He agreed straight away. Tom, Sarah and I all share a love of bargains at the moment.
I set off for Tom's. The traffic in London was particularly heavy and it took me longer than usual to get to Surrey Quays. When I walked into Tom's flat, I found that Tom's friend, Jason, was there already. I invited Jason to join us in going to the cinema and he seemed interested. The plan was for me to call Mucky Sarah when I arrived at Tom's, which I proceeded to do. The result was that we ended up engaging in a four-way conversation, with the aid of the hands-free feature of Tom's phone. Tom and Sarah each accessed the internet, retrieving a listing of what was showing at the O2 Arena, Vue cinema. The first order of business was to agree on a film to see. Unfortunately, we seemed to fall at the first hurdle. I'm not sure if the choice of films put the boys off, or what, but the next thing I knew, Jason was saying that the cinema would be crowded, because of the special price. One thing led to another and suddenly, Tom was backing out, as well. They also declined to accept my invitation to go to the party at the club, to which I had free passes. The excuse given was concern about potential car bombs, after two were discovered in the city the day before. Then, the two guys got up to go to the local Tesco supermarket. I suggested that they wait a moment, while I finished my conversation with Sarah, and I could go with them, but they told me not to worry. It struck me as odd that they would prefer to walk in the rain, rather than let me drive them.
Continuing my conversation with Sarah, I agreed to see "Shrek the Third," starting at 11PM. After the film, Sarah would attend the party with me. I needed directions to the cinema. I tried looking on the internet, as Tom had left his computer on, but he has one of these operating configurations that blocks access when the computer goes dormant, unless a password is entered. I figured Tom and Jason would be back any minute, then I could ask them, but it got later, and later, with no sign of them. I had promised Sarah that I would meet her outside the cinema at 10:45. Estimating that it would take me around thirty minutes to drive to the cinema, I started worrying as it got past 10:00. I saw a street atlas on Tom's bookshelf, but it was old and didn't have the Millennium complex shown. Finally, at 10:15, I could wait no longer and left. I decided to drive in the direction of the Arena complex, then look for signs.
My route took me past road works, where half the road was blocked. Traffic had to alternate direction at a set of temporary traffic lights. This caused a traffic jam and I worried that I would be late. I also started running so low on petrol, that I decided to stop and buy more. After clearing the traffic jam, I found a low priced petrol station which would serve a dual purpose. Even though I had driven to the area where I thought the Millennium complex was, I had as yet seen no signs. At least I could ask someone at the petrol station. I am one of those typical men who doesn't like to ask directions from strangers, so you know I must have felt desperate to do so. To my relief, I had been heading in the right direction and it was just a little further on.
By the time I left the petrol station, I was late. I kept looking at my mobile, expecting to see a call come through from Sarah, but my phone remained deathly silent. Finding the Dome complex was only the first problem. Where, in the immense complex, was the cinema located? I could find no signs indicating where to go for the cinema. I drove past car park after car park, until I came to the end of the road. To the left was a special, elite parking area. To my right was a driveway which was blocked off, with two guards protecting the entrance. I pulled up to the guards, rolling down my passenger side window, to ask directions to the cinema. Before I could ask, one of the guards said I should continue on. "How are you able to give me directions when I haven't told you where I want to go, yet?" I asked him.
"You're blocking a box junction," he responded, indicating I had to move on. So, he wasn't giving me directions to the cinema, he was just telling me to move. He refused to give me directions and kept insisting that I move. Even though there was a "box junction" grid painted on the road surface, it was 11PM, there was no traffic, and the roadway was blocked by the barrier behind the guards. Surely, this idiot could have taken a moment to tell me where I needed to go. Then I would have been off anyway. I pulled ahead, then pulled alongside the curb. I got out and walked back to the guards.
Approaching the one who hadn't spoken to me before, I said, "I don't like talking to assholes, so I'll ask you..." Before I could finish my question about where I needed to go for the cinema, I was interrupted by the man. He refused to let me finish and said he wouldn't talk to me because I had used profanity. I pointed out to him that I hadn't called him anything and other than the one word, I had used perfectly courteous language. I pointed out that I only wanted directions to the cinema on the site, then I would be on my way. He repeatedly refused to give me directions, because I had used profanity. Loosing my patience, I proceeded to curse him up and down. He didn't like profanity? I subjected him to such a stream of four letter words that I hoped he'd never need to hear another, ever again. I also added that it was people like him that made people no longer want to come to London.
As I started walking back to my car, he said, "you got out of your car to say that?"
I turned on him, saying, "no! I got out to ask for directions to the cinema, but you're too much of a moron to give them to me." I spun around and marched back to my car, shouting one last four letter word at the second guard. Driving to another car park, I ran into a third guard and asked him. He said I was in the right place, but I needed to pay £5 for parking, before I could enter. What a stitch up! The ticket price to the film might be only £5, but now they had stung me for another £5 for parking. One word of advice for Vue Cinemas: signs!After parking, I began the long walk to the cinema. Still no word from Sarah, so I sent her a text, asking, "where are you?" I got no reply. It was 11PM now and the film was starting. They show advertising before the film starts in the UK, so I hoped we could still make it before the feature started.
Reaching the lobby of the cinema, no Sarah. Had she gone in without me and without texting me, or calling my mobile? What should I do? I called her mobile and she answered. After asking here location, she told me she was just walking from the Tube station. She was later than I was! By the time she turned up at the cinema lobby, the film had been on 15 minutes already. Sarah suggested that we go see, "La Vie En Rose," which started at 11:45. Reluctantly, I agreed. I half suspected that Sarah was late, deliberately, so we would end up seeing this film. The French film, with subtitles, is the story of the famous, French singer, Edith Piaf. It turns out that Sarah is a fan of Piaf. I have only heard one song by the Frenchwoman, before. The film is well made and a fascinating look at the behind the scenes life of a celebrity, including the long, hard road, from one's beginnings to fame. However, it is a bit long. At two hours and twenty minutes, it's a bit much to watch starting at midnight.
When the film finally finished, it was 2:17AM! The venue where the party was being held was supposed to close at 3AM! Sarah apologized and said she hadn't realized the film would be that long. She said we could go by the party anyway. By the time we got there, it was 3AM. We walked in as there was no longer any doorman checking invitations. The lights were on, but there were still some people there and music was still playing. Mucky Sarah immediately informed me that she didn't like the music and wanted to leave. She offered to make her own way home so I could stay, but I wouldn't have it. I drove her home and accepted her invitation to spend the night. It suddenly dawned on me, even on dawn was breaking outside, that June was gone and July had begun.

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