Carolyn Lazarus's Herefordshire life

PUBLISHED: 11:39 14 January 2011 | UPDATED: 18:08 20 February 2013

Carolyn Lazarus’s Herefordshire life

Carolyn Lazarus’s Herefordshire life

Carolyn Lazarus lives in Lugwardine and is a writer, mother, garden designer... and occasional cinema-goer

If only Hereford had a better cinema, bemoaned my husband with a heavy heart and not for the first time. Being a Londoner he grew up on takeaway kebabs and nights at the movies whereas, for me, the first was unheard of and the second such a rare treat that I can remember each and every childhood visit. Since meeting me he has, in that inevitable decline in ambition and verve on the path to a compromise between opposites, cut his film-going extensively yet he still hankers after it.

One of the problems for him now is that the Hereford Odeon has not provided much inducement with its one screen and traditional seating. We have of course been to the cinema together since our move here once. The evening was not an unmitigated success. Normally when we see films together it is a very unfunny romantic comedy as a middle road between the all-action movie where blood and noise abound and the all-in-the-mind drama where facial expression is everything. On this occasion Marc made the ultimate sacrifice and agreed to come with me to watch Iris, the moving story of Iris Murdochs slow descent into Alzheimers disease. The subject-matter was made more poignant for me by the fact that, some years before, my parents had seen Iris Murdoch talk at The Hay Literary Festival where she was embarrassingly unable to hold a conversation together and kept stuttering over her responses. The audience was angry at having its time and money wasted. No one knew then that her personal public nightmare was just beginning.

This was never going to be a blockbuster of a film but in Hereford it attracted, on our chosen rain-swept, miserable night, a mere handful of viewers, principally middle-aged women like me. Most were alone. But I was engrossed from the outset and even Marc, crunching on Minstrels and rustling through popcorn and then absent-mindedly nudging me to offer me some, failed to distract me from the task in hand. I was emotionally engaged and enjoying myself. During the scene where the older Iris (Judi Dench) is on the beach vacantly playing with sand I started to sob uncontrollably. I was not out of place as sobs and sniffs and blowing of noses echoed across the auditorium with every woman there overwhelmed by the awful bleakness of the human condition. I reached for Marcs hand seeking his sympathy and assurance that we had at last found a film that moved the both of us only to find that him reclined, mouth open and eyes closed, the bag of popcorn tipped on its side. His gentle snoring told the awful truth. He was fast asleep. We had reached the climax of the film, a film which should have renewed the bond between us and revitalised daily conversation, and my husband was asleep. Disgusted, I turned back to the screen. On our journey home I rounded on him. How could you fall asleep? I demanded. Well in my opinion the film was at least half an hour too long, he said calmly, refreshed by his recent slumber. The fact that he had fallen asleep well before his preferred finishing time seems to have escaped him. For the second time that evening I start sobbing. We each vowed silently to ourselves that we would never accompany each other to the cinema again, at least until a multiplex makes it to Hereford. Could it be that our next visit is just around the corner?

PS. This is my last piece for Herefordshire for a while. Thank you to all those readers who have supported me along the way.

Carolyn Lazarus lives in Lugwardine and is a writer, mother, garden designer and occasional cinema-goer


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