By Lawrence Parmenter
There has been a lot of talk recently about the creative process.
John Jessup came in earlier in the week and he gave us his wisdom.
One of his core suggestions was going to the pub.
Idea juice is at the heart of my creative process.
In vino veritas said the Romans – maybe they were on to something.
I’m writing this in the annoying way that Dave Trott writes.
Not worrying about paragraphs.
Keeping it short and direct.
No really big words.
No complicated punctuation.
Maybe a loosely related anecdote or illustrative story.
Once when I was younger I worked at a cinema.
The projectionist was a guy in his fifties. Chris.
He was always playing practical jokes on me while I worked.
Working at a cinema meant there were a lot of boring hours while the films were on.
Chris would entertain me while I sat around doing nothing.
I worked there at a time when film was still distributed on film.
These big canisters were delivered to us and we would lug them up the stairs to Chris in the booth.
He would assemble them and when all the paying customers were gone those of us who had no place to go would stay late and watch the film, normally the day before it was released.
We’d go to the shops and get lots of nice food and beers and then watch Indiana Jones or The Dark Knight in to the early hours of the morning.
He’d turn the sound up louder than we had for regular customers and he would specially arrange trailer reels for us.
He was a big kid and even now I can think of his laughter.
When I first dropped out of university and the opportunity came up to go to Los Angeles and hang out with film people Chris was one of the first people to encourage me to go.
He encouraged me to go out of my comfort zone and take the risk.
He encouraged me to be a kid and not worry about paying bills or having ties.
That first week I was out travelling I sent him a postcard. In my usual style it was borderline offensive and totally taking the piss.
A few months later I got a phone call from someone who had worked with me at the cinema, it was ten am in LA so it must have been late in the UK.
Chris had died.
Later on his body would be subjected to tests and they would be unable to ascertain why he died. He just did.
There were no clues in his blood.
No clues in his brain.
He just stopped.
His funeral was knocked back because of all these tests. They just couldn’t work out why.
Because of these delays I was able to attend.
I met his wife for the first time, we all did, those who had worked with us at the cinema. She was amazed at how many friends he actually had. How many young people who had worked with him had showed up. Not out of obligation but out of affection. The big kid, the practical joker, was our friend – our cheerleader.
After the funeral and the drinks and everything a few of us went back to the cinema and spent some time in the projection booth. The postcard was pinned to the wall.
I hadn’t thought about Chris in ages, Which is strange considering how much time we would spend together at work.
But today Georgia made me come and watch her drink a glass of wine, she needed a break from work. We went to the Ritzy which is a part of the same chain as my old cinema.
I got talking to the girl behind the bar. We spoke about how I used to work for the chain.
Suddenly all my memories of Chris came back: All of his practical jokes, the way he would call down during the film if ever there was nudity coming up on screen so I could run in.
Be a kid. Have fun.
Idea juice takes you to these places. But maybe it’s not the idea juice… Maybe it’s the role of bartenders. They’re like priests giving confession.
Take the time to talk to people who work behind bars as they can always illuminate.