I was urging my friend to watch a film that I saw last night, and I told her about the first time had seen it. She said that my anecdotes are like the plot of a Douglas Coupland novel, and that I should blog them. Well here is the first one.
One of my favourite films is a ‘made for TV’ film called The Fruit Machine. It’s a film about 2 gay teenagers on the run after witnessing a gangland killing. I first saw this film when I was a hospital in-patient, I was 17, this was 1989. I was in hospital for a total of 3 weeks with a severe chest infection. I was getting pretty bored, life needs to be fast when you’re 17. Anyway, I made friends with quite a few of my fellow patients, and we all used to head down to the Day Room in the evenings, dragging our drip-stands with us, sitting in our newly bought pyjamas and dressing gowns. Incredibly you could still smoke in Day Rooms then, and fags were a highly prized commodity which were cheerfully shared around, it was only the smokers who were happy to contend with the fug in the room, you couldn’t see from the doorway to the other side of the room.
One night John and I were the only ones left. All the others had left one by one, and when the continuity announcer on the TV said ‘and now a powerful film about two gay teenagers…’, I thought ‘yeah, I’ll stick around and see what this one is about’.
What was interesting about John is that he was in fact on release from HMP Camphill on the Isle of Wight after suffering with a heart attack. He was cuffed to his chair. He and I had become quite friendly over the two previous weeks and he was trying to prolong his stay in hospital so that he didn’t have to go back to prison.
John and I watched the film, we were enraptured. We were both sat there with tears rolling down our cheeks, holding hands. When the film ended, I had to go and get security to release him from his chair so that he could go back to bed. I often wonder what happened to him, he was a really nice chap who was in prison for fraud. I never did ask him what sort of fraud, or how much time he was doing.
After all that, I can heartily recommend the film. I bought it being slightly worried that your memory can play tricks on you and that something that you found powerful over 20 years ago, might not pack as much of a punch now. However, this film still does pack a punch and I had tears streaming down my face at the end, even after all this time.