|The Regal (1938)|
|ABC Edgware Road - Screen 1|
Now back to those ashtrays in the back of the seats. On this particular afternoon I was partaking in a horror double-bill (what else?) of The Exorcist and Exorcist II: The Heretic.
It was playing in either screen 2 or 3 (the upstairs auditoriums – both with steep seating plans – and I’ll come onto that in a later blog too). I was toward the rear of the auditorium, not my usual spot - I usually preferred to sit closer to the screen – I didn’t do detachment back in 1982. Anyhow, about half an hour into Exorcist II: The Heretic (a most aptly named title as compared to the original it was utter heresy) my rapt attention was suddenly drawn toward an old woman several rows in front of me. As there were only about half a dozen patrons in total she was very noticeable anyway as she kept muttering loudly every time there were raised voices on screen. This in itself was beginning to prove sufficiently distracting for me to begin contemplating swapping seats. However, my mind was made up for me when she proceeded to move up and down between the aisles hunched over like Quasimodo. By this point I had given up following the film entirely and was fascinated to see what she was up to. Upon returning to her seat she proceeded to fill the little ashtray in front of her with discarded ticket stubs and once she’d satisfied herself that she’d packed as much into the little metallic cup as she possibly could, she produced a match and lit the papers. As I exited my seat I could still hear her babbling away and to this day I still wonder whether she was actually performing some kind of magic ritual inspired perhaps by Exorcist II: The Herectic...