Eventually, a voice came out over the intercom... announcing that the train was running five minutes late. The children, none too depressed by this announcement, let out a hearty avuncular roar of approval: "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!", or sounds to that effect.
It was then that I and the rest of the regular commuters decided that children and trains should not be trusted.
Thus it was with some trepidation, dear reader, that yesterday I found myself advancing into the Northland cinemas, for the second week in a row, to buy a ticket to the movie 'Thomas the tank engine and friends: the great discovery'. On the previous week, I had arrived at the cinemas some ten minutes before the movie was due to start and had discovered all the seats in the film sold out, and adult life forms banked up from one corner of the cinema right into the Pancake Parlour, with children tugging at their sleeves and asking anxiously when they were going to see the train.
I say that I advanced there with trepidation: well, terror might be a more adequate description. As luck would have it I arrived just as the ticket booth was opening and managed to get myself one of the first tickets. On walking into the cinemas some minutes later, I discovered it overflowing with children, running all over the place. It was if a movie version of Lord of the Flies had suddenly, and startlingly, manifested itself in real life.
I took a seat somewhere in aisle five and attempted to relax. I say attempted: some child in aisle four was turning and wriggling around as if he could hardly bear to sit any longer. An aisle one adult was flapping disturbing pieces of linen in the air. Another aisle five child was querying their parent about Thomas, and there were sounds of childish distress coming from aisle seven. Possibly tom toms as well, but I think I blocked that out.
Meanwhile, the cinema, in an attempt to calm us all down, was piping generic movie music in, but even this did nothing to quell my rising horror. For one thing, they appeared to be playing an L J Hooker ads instead of music. "Nobody does it better... nobody does it half as good as you!", etc. This was followed, even more disturbingly, by James Bond music. (I had noted previously, and with some disapproval, that this edition of Thomas was narrated by previous Bond star Pierce Brosnan, and not Ringo: they have a Bond movie out at the moment that I have no interest in seeing). Was this some kind of way of subliminally encouraging the children to be supervillains? When the lights went out, I began to feel some anxiety on the part of my mortal soul....
The film itself was just about what you would expect. Forty-five minutes long, with narration, as I have just noted, by Pierce Brosnan, presumably on the assumption that he is universally identified as an Englishman, like Ringo. Never mind the fact that his accent is probably put on: Brosnan is from Ireland, not England. Brosnan also has a disturbingly high voice: I don't know why nobody has noticed it before, but this former 007 is sometimes in danger of squealing.
That charming dramatic creation, The Fat Controller, has been largely retired, and replaced by a
Aside from Occupational Health and Safety difficulties, Thomas may also need a psychologist. It's rare for a steam rain to have a psychiatric condition, but Thomas becomes startlingly envious and avaricious when introduced to Stanley, a gleaming white engine with a silver smoke stack.
All in all, not a terrible way to spend an hour or so. Yesterday evening I also went to see Excalibur at the Astor, a much more adult affair with knights donging one another all over with maces and all manner of implicit Freudian themes being made, explicitly. But I think the day belonged to Thomas.
You should see it too. Go on. You'll be chuffed!