Clutching my head in my hands and grimacing in disbelief, I can feel my face screwing up as I watch the Green Zone trailer. Again Matt Damon is releasing yet another appallingly painful Bourne film that looks to follow the same formulaic pattern as the previous brainless predictable mind-numbing franchise offerings, except this time under another guise. Jason transforms into Miller, yet another force to be reckoned with. If you ask me Damon's role in Team America was more captivating but I have to admit at least watching the Green Zone trailer is the lesser of two evils.
Just as Danny Glover is hauled into an elevator by the eternally unfunny Orange duo, a guard walks into the cinema with a torch peering around suspiciously before exiting. Having been subjected to the incredibly humorous Dial Hard Orange Gold Spot ad campaign countless times over the last few months, I am more interested in what the guard is looking for and grateful for the distraction. Moments after the guard's head disappears around the corner two children far too young to be admitted to this screening appear giggling, sneaking off to front row seats.
However much it may have annoyed me as a teacher, undoubtedly annoys overbearing parents and occasionally irritates the general public, I feel bound to admire their sense of spirit and enterprising nature, having often mused at how easy it would be in some cinemas to buy a ticket for one film and sneak into another or pay for one ticket and orchestrate watching two films back to back.
On two occasions standing in Entertainment Exchange, I have been reminded of myself. Two girls who are clearly far too young hide behind a rack and stand in an aisle marvelling at the horror film selection, pretending to choose a film but really arguing over who looks old enough to buy it or who should be nominated to approach a stranger to ask to buy it for them. Their love of horror films is what reminds me of a younger version of myself, not their indecisiveness and inability to act the part. When a teenager approaches me offering me money and asking me to buy them cigarettes or alcohol, it is not just the principle that it is wrong that stops me but also my disappointment at their laziness and lack of invention. I think back to all of those times when I was knocked back and had to persevere by trawling shops until I found the "right" shopkeeper or when I wore glasses just to look older when purchasing my magnum bottle of Lambrini from Iceland. I was no problem child, just quietly scheming, minding my own business, but at least making the effort.
I am more impressed by my second Entertainment Exchange trip down memory lane. I watch as a young boy approaches a couple standing in line asking if they will swap his shop credit voucher for cash. He is a fine example of that inexplicable thing that happens with nerves – he is talking far too much, explaining how he needs the money for the bus. Unfazed, like me, the couple are impressed by his guts and allow him to wait with them to check the voucher is real before handing him the money. If he had asked me I would have also obliged because I remember all of those times I was given a Marks and Spencer's voucher and psyched myself to do exactly the same thing.
Talking to a friend, I learn of one of her clever childhood routines – she used to collect "kids go free with an adult" vouchers for Alton Towers and then select couples for her and her friends to latch onto. It warms me that others were just as devious and enterprising in their ingenious ways to save and make money. I remember trawling local antique shops with "precious" items my nan no longer wanted and had given me to try and sell. As I got older, helping to remove unloved belongings from family members and sell them at boot sales was a slightly more respectable way to make extra cash.
Sure it has got tougher to buy alcohol, cigarettes and films when you are underage (after all I still occasionally get asked for ID at 30 so what hope have the kids got?) and earn fast money, legally that is, but something about the spirit of these kids gives me a feeling of hope. Society is becoming more health and environmentally conscious, banning fatty or sugary foods in schools and workplaces and introducing fines for wasted fuel consumption and dropped litter; as the obsession with political correctness and health and safety gets out of hand, children are moving on and inventing new ways of making cash. A friend who continues to brave teaching tells me of a pupil in his school who was excluded after accidentally exposing his sweet dealing business by making a poor judgement call and trying to sell some to an unimpressed dinner lady. Unfortunately it would seem kids certainly learn from an early age that you can make money from illegal activities. Still, you have to salute their gusto.
Now, after rejecting a life of crime and months of scrimping and eventually having to submit to being an exceedingly reluctant and hopefully temporary kept woman, I almost wish a few boot sales would solve my problems but have to remind myself that in those days when rent, bills and living expenses were unheard of, the little money that I earned meant much more.