Secret Confessions of a Cinephile

Edward-bella-still2 Here’s the thing: I love the cinema. I love all kinds of cinema.

I love French movies, especially Jules et Jim and De Battre Mon Coeur s'est Arrêté. I cried like a fool at Kristin Scott Thomas in I’ve Loved You So Long, and thought Into the Wild was one of the most beautiful pieces of film I’d ever seen.

I’m not a film snob, mind. I’ve sobbed my way through Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Goodbye Mr Chips, and I get a real thrill from popcorn movies like 2012 or New Moon. I’ve got an extensive John Hughes collection, and Ferris Bueller might just be my favourite film of all time. 

I think films are best seen at the cinema. I love the feeling of being completely cut-off from outside and immersed in the world of the film for a few hours. It's kind of magical. 

But having kids makes going to the cinema tricky. I regularly take Flea to see movies, but without a local babysitter, it’s been impossible for me to see a film in the evening since she was born. And these days, I almost prefer going in the day – sometimes I have a whole cinema screen to myself – which is seriously cool.

So once a week or so, I go to the cinema in the afternoon. I go on my own – if I’m honest, I prefer it that way – before I go and collect Flea from school. I’m lucky because working as a freelance journalist means it’s pretty easy to take three hours off in the afternoon, and make it up in the evenings.

At the start of 2009, I made a resolution to see 100 new movies this year. What’s been really interesting is seeing the Other Mothers respond to this.

One woman I used to be friendly with would say to me, “Oh, I wouldn’t have time to go to the cinema all the time like you do,” in tones that clearly said she was an infinitely better person for not being able to spare three hours a week for her own pleasure.

At the school gate when I pick up Flea, the women often chat about their day. I stopped telling them when I’d come from the cinema, because I got so many comments along the lines of: “Ooh, it’s alright for some, isn’t it?”

This week I dropped in on my sister-in-law after collecting Flea from school and told her I’d just been to see New Moon (totally rocks, and I’m not embarrassed to admit it. Well, not much). “God, I can’t go to the cinema, I’ve got two kids, I'll have to wait for the DVD,” she said. “You’re so lucky.

My SIL is married and her two kids are at school. She works 20 hours a week. Her sister and mother live five minutes down the road and she’s got a dozen friends living nearby who could baby-sit. The only thing stopping her going to the cinema, or anything else for that matter, is herself. She’s convinced it’s more important to dust her radiator cabinets.

I work hard – I have to, I’m self-employed – so I refuse to feel guilty for carving out just a little bit of time to do something just because I enjoy it.  But it sometimes feels as though the Other Mothers compete to be seen as the most over-worked, the most frantic, the most martyred. I don’t get it. Why should we feel guilty about having fun?


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.


  1. 21st November 2009 / 10:24 pm

    You have hit the nail on the head in the last paragraph. Other Mother’s ARE competing to be seen as the most over-worked and the biggest martyr. As if this somehow makes them a better mother.
    It’s all a matter of priorities isn’t it. I find time to blog because I neglect the housework. I find time to study because I don’t go out in the evenings much. If you really want to do something, you find the time. The same goes for having fun – there is absolutely no excuse for not having fun in your life.
    Good on you for taking some time to re-charge your batteries. THAT makes you the better mother in my book, not being some stupid martyr-mother desperate for some validation. (And bleugggh for New Moon…)
    P.S. Now that was a *lovely* comment… x

  2. Liz (LivingwithKids)
    21st November 2009 / 10:29 pm

    I’m a total Cinephile too, and like you not a film snob in any way – blockbusters, chick flicks, arthouse, foreign, gangster flicks, bring it on. The only thing that prevents me going more often is lack of funds (this is why I’d save my Sky box in a fire, Sky Movies is one of my favourite things). And one of the absolutely delights of being a parent is being able to share your favourite movies with your kids – No 1 Son actually wants to be a film director. It’s a total pleasure to be able to share movies like Ferris Bueller.

  3. Sally
    21st November 2009 / 11:01 pm

    @Josie – you neglect the housework?! Shocking, woman, just shocking. You’re right about there being no excuse for not having fun; I just don’t understand people who prioritise housework over fun. Weird.
    @Liz – Yes, I booked a cinema ticket for London this week and was shocked by the price – I think at £12 a time, I wouldn’t go too often, either. My local Odeon is around £6, and with an Odeon loyalty card, I get a free ticket every 4th or 5th visit, so it’s only about £25-30 a month to go once a week. Sometimes I go a bit more, sometimes less, but it’s a fraction of what I used to spend on cigarettes, compared to which this is a bargain form of stress release

  4. 21st November 2009 / 11:30 pm

    I’m the opposite of a film buff (a ffub?) but I always found enough money for a magazine even when I was counting up my money while going round the supermarket. Now I leave other stuff undone in order to go to yoga because it makes me feel good. Martyr mothers live life vicariously and produce guilty and slightly resentful children (although often children who are very dedicated as adults to their mothers’ happiness in a weird way!)

  5. 22nd November 2009 / 12:38 am

    You’re SO right. I love my time off, and I use it to go to the gym, faff around on the internet, sleep even. I get a lot of comments like that as well, and it’s all bullshit. Most of these martyrs, if you were to ask them, probably spend a considerable amount of time watching TV (I think that’s a waste of time for most programmes) or, like you said, dusting the radiators. I’m sure I’m a far better mother as well when I take care of myself. Besides, who said I had to stop doing nice things when I popped a sprog?

  6. 22nd November 2009 / 4:35 pm

    I also love going to the movies as complete escapism. The screen, the sound system, all of it completely envelopes me. I often disappear to the movies when I need to hide from reality. Good for you I say. As for the housework, I’ve had cleaners refuse to come back because the house is so messy. What’s more you work in a creative industry, isn’t your cinema addiction really just research?

  7. Sally
    22nd November 2009 / 11:31 pm

    @Elizabeth – I think your point about resentful children is interesting. I do always wonder about families where the kids are always off doing some activity or other and all the parents do is work OR run their kids between activities.
    Mwa – Yes, I certainly don’t watch TV much, so I guess it evens out.
    @Vegemitevix – Oh, I knew there are others! In fact, during the day, there are often a few other women there watching movies on their own. I think there should be a secret society or something. And yes, I certainly use it as research. TOTALLY work-related. *cough*

  8. 22nd November 2009 / 11:43 pm

    I used to think going to the cinema was boring. Now, whenever it gets a bit claustrophobic at home, my partner will pack me off to watch a movie, and it just feels like such a treat! Two hours, completely on my own, eating fizzy sweets, and not even thinking about babies, emails, housework, or what to make for dinner. I never feel guilty about my little bit of me time – that pile of laundry will still be there when I get home (unless hell really has frozen over, and my partner has thought to do it…)

  9. 23rd November 2009 / 8:20 am

    Being a martyr helps no one. My MIL is a completely like this – all she does is clean, she will not even see her grandchildren unless she has everything on her list done. She no longer works and always complains she is too busy to do anything.
    Enjoy your cinema, you deserve it.

  10. 23rd November 2009 / 2:26 pm

    Oohh the sweet smell of buring martyr among the other mummies – it’s terribly easy to fall into that trap espcially if you are married/in a partnership. Many men/husbands would find it hard to accept if their wives/partners went off to see a movie even if they did deserve it. However, shopping etc can be forgiven. I have a personal trainer and yes Other Mummies look askance at that: but your film idea that sounds GREAT. You deserve it!

  11. 23rd November 2009 / 7:03 pm

    You are so right…. we deserve a litle time to ourselves – you go to the cinema, others go out for the evening, or get their hair done or whatever. i love the cinema and i love even more going on my own… although haven’t done it in a long time because my vice is writing, so if i get some hours off i head to starbucks with a book or a laptop.. but i know what you mean about ‘other mothers’ seeming positively miffed by our meagre minutes of pleasure. Hubby and i take it in turns to have a lie-in at the weekend… he sleeps during his, but during mine, I wake up, get a cup of tea and go back to bed with the bulging Sunday paper, my laptop and my novel. It is my one time of the week that I have to myself. But so many of my friends look at me like I’m being incredibly selfish. Or lazy! I get up at 5.30 in the mornings to write before the girls get up and then look after them full time. I think I deserve 2 hours on a sunday morning…. and so do you!

  12. 23rd November 2009 / 9:38 pm

    I’ve just cancelled an appointment at work so I can go and see New Moon with a girlfriend at 12 noon on Wednesday!! YES! Life has to be fun.

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