I was seven years old when the first Superman film was released. Christopher Reeve played the titular hero. I didn’t know what titular meant back then of course. I thought it meant ‘having one’s breasts swinging in a pendulum like fashion’. Anyway, I was seven years old when the first Superman movie came out and my mum marked this grand occasion by buying me a packet of bubblegum cards.
My mum could rarely afford to take me to the pictures so she used to buy me packets of bubblegum cards whenever a new film came out, as if it was ample compensation. I had the bubblegum card collection of Superman, Star Wars, Pete’s Dragon and Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo. She never was able to find the bubblegum cards of The Omen, though she did try.
I ended up watching the first Superman movie on a small black & white television, sometime in the early 80s. I loved it. I loved fantasy and science fiction back then, as most of my friends did. I wanted to be a super hero and wear tight fitting spandex suits and meet female super heroes in tight black lycra. I even formed a ‘Spandex & Lycra’ club when I was in junior school but that was short lived, due to the intervention of the social services.
So now, at the beautifully youthful age of forty-two – an age Douglas Adams would be proud of – the latest Superman film had been released. Man of Steel. After the frightfully ghastly and atrociously abysmal ‘Superman IV – The Quest For Peace’, released in 1987, there was no Superman film until Bryan Singer’s ‘re-imagining’ of the first film. Superman Returns, released in 2007, had mixed reviews. One mixed review was by me, where I wrote in the persona of Bugsy Malone contemplating Cartesian Theistic Duality. It was one hell of a mixed review, as mixed reviews go, and I am still very proud of it.
I currently live on a farm in Avebury, renting a gorgeous little converted chimney at the top of an old manor house.
My fellow co-cohabitants were students – Marcus, Theo and Orlando, each renting a different part of the derelict spaceship disguised as a house. It was they who invited me along to the Man of Steel.
“I can’t,” I said initially. “I’m writing.”
“Everyone goes through a writing phase,” Orlando said, dismissively.
“Don’t you think you can automatically make something sound condescending by adding ‘going through a phase’ at the end of a sentence?” said Theo. “Everyone goes through a ‘going to the pictures’ phase.”
“Yes,” agreed Marcus. “Everyone goes through an agreeing phase.”
“Well,” I added, “I think most people go through a ‘going through a phase’ phase”.
The nearest cinema to Avebury is roughly seventeen miles away, in Swindon. Marcus drove us there, in his DeLorean, and we reached the cinema and queued for our tickets and popcorn. Marcus, Theo and Orlando are significantly younger than me, which might explain why at this point, they started referring to me as Dad. This might have been to impress the young girl behind the counter who was filling their popcorn buckets. ‘Filling popcorn buckets’ isn’t a euphemism by the way, although I think it should be.
“Three students,” said Orlando, handing over the cash. “Our dad will buy his own ticket.”
I figured that having a cat-owning Welsh Asian author as a dad was currently a hip and trendy thing among Oxbridge students.
We entered the auditorium and the film began.
It was good. We enjoyed it and left.
We popped into Chiquito, a hacienda style restaurant a few doors down from the cinema for something to eat. Crowded around a small table, I was reminded of that wonderful scene at the beginning of St Elmo’s Fire, a classic brat-pack movie from the early 80s. Of course, I couldn’t share that thought with my three friends. I was their Dad, for goodness sake.
I was served a burger, coated in spicy breadcrumbs, topped with crispy bacon, sandwiched between two fluffy pillows of white bread goodness. It was a bit odd because I ordered ice-cream, but I ate it anyway.
We discussed Man of Steel for a short time and then, as often happens in these situations, the conversation turned to communism.
“It works great on paper,” I reasoned. “But then, so does naughts and crosses.”
Marcus spoke eloquently and concisely about politics, humanity, morality and burgers. All three were bright, inquisitive, intelligent people. It made me nostalgic for my days at Pontypool college, when Kathryn Ayling, Scott Bailey, Becci Senior and I used to throw popcorn at passing cars.
It was nearly midnight when we left Swindon, travelling through the washed darkness of a summer’s night back to Avebury. Marcus drove carefully through the twisting, winding country lanes, which had a fair share of hairpin bends.
“Where did you learn to drive?”asked Orlando. “Thorpe Park?”
And so we returned to Avebury. I jumped out of the car as it passed my flat, bidding them a goodnight, and rolling John Mclane-like through my front door and into my bed, when I immediately fell into a deep sleep and dreamed of Jor-El, Kal-El, El-El and Swell-Mel on the doomed planet of Krypton.