SO there we were, 20 minutes into Skyfall, when the people round about me became aware of a constant, nagging murmur of conversation that was decidedly not coming from the multiplex screen.
Locating the source – a teenage couple deaf to everything but each other and, now and then, the action unfolding in front of them – we threw them distracted little looks of annoyance, which came to naught, largely because it's difficult to convey irritation by non-verbal means in a darkened auditorium.
So the bubble of conversation, low but insistent, continued. I wouldn't have been surprised to see Daniel Craig, his concentration suddenly broken, whirling round to stare in murderous rage at the couple and unholstering his palmprint-responsive Walther PPK as he did so.
I was sitting next to them but was reluctant to do anything, lest they thought of me as a dull, middle-aged vigilante spoilsport, but eventually I reached across and tapped the girl on the arm. She looked at me as if I'd asked for her phone number. "Would you mind shutting up?" I asked, quietly.
To give them their due, they fell silent, and were as good as gold for the rest of the film. Craig suffered no more distractions (other than those from Javier Bardem, which were of a different kind altogether). I wondered whether I'd get a mouthful of abuse from the couple once the lights went up. But no.
As I left, I did feel like a dull, middle-aged vigilante spoilsport ... but when you've paid £14.10 for two adult tickets, and £11.40 for two hot dogs and a large diet soft drink (thanks to the cinema chain, by the way, for another expensive multiplex experience – now I know why its half-year pre-tax profits recently jumped to £13.4 million from £6.9m in 2011) then you're probably entitled to watch the film in something approaching a collective silence.
In addition to the teenage couple, one or two people switched on their mobile phones, the bright little screens vivid in the darkness, and several kids clumped noisily up and down the steps en route to the toilet, diverting everyone's attention. In the absence (of course) of ushers, I had to let these things go. There are only so many times a man of action can spring into action in the course of a single afternoon.
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