Fuh King Kong

 

Growing up in the sticks in the 1970s meant for much of the time we had to make our own entertainment. A favourite game played in the family was Hide and Seek, in which I would invariably hide under my bed.

Although this would seem an obvious place to check, I very rarely got found. I thought this was because I was just brilliant at Hiding. Only years later was I told that this was actually because nobody was Seeking. They had merely suggested the ‘game’ as a ruse to get rid of me and my incessant “But why?” questioning.

Typical conversations between my junior self and my mother went along the lines of:

 

ME: Why is the sea blue?

MUM: Because the sky’s blue.

ME: But why is the sky blue?

MUM: Because it just is.

ME: But why?

MUM: Because I said so, that’s why.

ME: But why?

At this point, I’d often get a smack- to which my reaction would be to go hide under my bed and sob quietly. If her patience wasn’t entirely frazzled from working a 16-hour day in the pub, she would suggest a game of Hide and Seek and I’d go hide under my bed and try not to breathe too loudly. This could go on for hours.

Under my bed seemed like it could hold all sorts of adventures and I firmly believed that some kind of helter skelter portal to another land might be revealed one day, just like in Jamie and His Magic Torch. I would switch my electric torch on and off repeatedly, hoping that this time the magic hole would appear to take me away from Mickleton.

Only it never did.

 

Poor Jamie. Even then, he was on a long, downward spiral

Once in a blue moon, we would be taken to the Regal Cinema in Evesham, which had a curved screen that genuinely acted as a portal to rich and strange worlds. I wasn’t sure which was more magical- the images on the screen or the blue wisps of cigarette smoke rising up from half the audience that flickered and danced in the light of the projector.

The first time I ever went to the Regal Cinema was to see the 1976 remake of Dino De Laurentiiissississ’s King Kong, starring Jeff Bridges and a gigantic animatronic gorilla, when I was just three years old.

I must have been very affected by the film because, right at the end- when King Kong climbs to the top of the World Trade Center in New York, and he’s grabbing at helicopters and gets shot and falls to the ground; and he’s bleeding and obviously dying- his enormous gorilla heart slowly winding down- I leapt out of my seat near the back of the gods and ran as fast as I could to the front, tears and snot streaming down my hot, chubby little face, and screaming over and over again “Don’t die King Kong!

“Don’t DIE, King King!

“DON’T die, KING KONG!

“DON’T DIE, King KONG!”

The fact that the audience all started laughing at me somehow made my grief worse. Was a world in which King Kong could not only die, but be laughed at in his final moments really somewhere I wanted to grow up?

I vowed there and then that when I got home, I would go straight to under my bed and never come out ever again.

Looking back on it, I realise that I ruined the end of the film for the entire cinema audience. But as it scores a measly 5.8 out of 10 on IMDB and 46% on rottentomatoes, they probably didn’t mind much either way.

As for King Kong, I’d like to think that he got his revenge and that stomping around on the roof of the Twin Towers caused some sort of structural weakness, which would result in the buildings falling into their own footprint at free-fall velocity on September 11th, 2001 after being hit by a couple of planes.

It’s about as plausible a theory as any for what actually happened that day.

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