LOVING the recent story of the woman who was missing going to the cinema so much she built her own in her garden shed.

Using items gathered from eBay, including plush red vintage cinema seats and a surround sound system, she built it from scratch. As lockdown projects go, that is one of my favourite.

We’re missing the cinema too - staging our own movie nights with popcorn and hotdogs has been fun, but it does not compare to the thrill of a visit to the big screen.

Ever since I was a child I have loved going to the movies. I have many happy memories of Indiana Jones movies and, later, in the Difficult Teenage Years, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink, at the cinema in my home town of East Kilbride. There, the queues snaked around the block and the fog of cigarette smoke floated in the slant of light from the projector’s window.

I spent a happy few years as the ‘film critic’ for the local newspaper. Wednesday mornings, me in the posh seats with tea and biscuits, getting the chance to watch the blockbusters-to-be just before they were released – Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shawshank Redemption, Apollo 13….

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At the GFT in Glasgow, I felt arty and grown-up watching French cinema, and I started a love affair with Baz Luhrmann which has lasted ever since: Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge and, of course, the best film ever made, Strictly Ballroom.

I do not remember any of Glasgow’s old picture halls, but they were brought to life for me recently as part of my research for a feature on the city’s reign as cinema capital of Europe.

By the 1930s, there were around 130 cinemas here, more per head of population than any other city in the world outside America. What I love most are the names. The Astoria, Lyric, La Scala, Vogue – they were romantic and exotic. More than plain old cinemas, they were electric theatres, picture palaces. They were proud and important - Grand, Majestic, Premier, Star.

As lockdown restrictions ease and cinemas work their socks off to enable social distancing on a level that means it will be safe for us to return to the movies, part of me wishes some of the old names could come back too.

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Bigger chains, more screens, state-of-the-art technology – all good, of course. But it is a shame that all that striving for brand awareness comes at the expense of poetry and imagination.

Give me a Cinerama or a Theatre de Luxe any day.

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