“I was sick and tired of everything, when I called you last night from Edinburgh. All I do is eat and sleep and sing, wishing every show was the last show.” (Abba, Super Trouper)
Ok, in the real lyrics it’s Glasgow rather than Edinburgh, which seems to me such an unlikely city to feature in one of Abba’s spangly songs, but I suppose they can’t all be like ‘Fernando’, all starry nights crossing the Rio Grande. It just goes to show that everyone can get sick and tired of the same-old-same-old, even if your gig is strutting your skin tight, silver-blue, bellbottom-ruffled trews, dancing in precariously high platform boots, and singing into the blinding lights behind which is an invisible but roaring and adoring Glaswegian crowd. Yes, even Abba got the blues. It seems that the foursome often had to apply a thick layer of make-up, wear a fixed smile and try their hardest to believe in angels, shining like the sun through that sinking feeling of: we’ve got to be super troupers tonight, again.
“Maybe I’ll go and see a film tomorrow,”I said to M. (when I called her last night from Edinburgh). “Something to take me out of myself, light distraction, maybe the one about Neil Armstrong. I love space movies. And Westerns.” “Since when?”she asked, disbelievingly. “News to me. Are you sure you’re not being like that ‘committed vegan’ we met at the wedding?” Oh yeah, C., I remembered her. She looked far too radiant to be a vegan. C.’s plate was late in arriving to the table and I chatted to her, restraining myself from beginning the meal without her. “And how long have you been vegan?”I asked, wondering if adopting a plant-based might make me as clear-eyed and dewy-skinned as her. “Three days,”she declared cheerfully. The table erupted in laughter, not unkindly, she was laughing too, as her husband gave the most exaggerated eye roll. “Until tomorrow morning’s hangover, and then she’ll want bacon on toast.”
I insisted that my devotion to the Space/Western (separate genres) had been longer than three days. Westerns, I’ve loved forever; my father weaned me on them – nothing like a good bar brawl in cowboy boots – but I conceded I might be considered a late convert to the space movie. “I loved E.T.,”I told M. “That’s not a proper space movie,” she vetoed it, “all the action’s on earth.” “I liked the one where Matt Damon plants spuds on Mars. And I loved‘Gravity’, it was epic,”I told her, struggling to come up with any more than two. “That amazing part of the film when George Clooney untethers himself, floats off in the abyss and says – ‘Ryan, you have to let me go’.” “Depressing.” M. said it like she is a quality control manager on a production line. “Don’t go to see the Neil Armstrong one, go to something feel-good. Go to Mamma Mia 2.”
So I did. At 10.30 in the morning. In screen 9 with just six others. What sort of oddball goes to the flicks at that time in the morning? Probably someone who wants to exchange their deep blues for the pale blue sky and warm water of Greece, for floaty orange skirts and rainbow kaftans, for whitewashed terraces and brightly painted shutters, for thin plots and thick chorus lines of super troupes of dancers and singers on a flotilla of boats, and all of it topped off with the non-chronologically ageing Cher, silver and white from tip to toe, singing the movie finale to a backdrop of resplendent fireworks. M. was right. Sometimes you just need to escape, even if it’w within a crowd of six.
“Tonight the Super Trouper beams are gonna blind me, but I won’t feel blue, like I always do, ‘cause somewhere in the crowd there’s you.”