Total Film

It Shouldn’t Happen To A Film Journalist

Editor-at-Large JAMIE GRAHAM lifts the lid on film journalism.


Fifteen years ago, I was a member of the YMCA gym on Tottenham Court Road, and regularly used the swimming pool. To do so, I had to fumble my shortsight­ed way out of the changing room and up a curved flight of stairs, before lowering myself carefully into the pool, ready to swim straight at people coming in the opposite direction.

One evening, I made the stumbling walk up the perilous stairs and lowered myself into the pool, vaguely aware, deep down, that the muffled, echoey sounds had a different tenor to normal. I’d no sooner pushed off to start my first length when a voice called out, “Excuse me!” I had a sinking feeling it was aimed at me but couldn’t see where it came from, so I continued. Four more strokes and it came again, louder this time: “EXCUSE ME!” I carried on, reaching the halfway point of my length before it positively boomed: “EXCUSE ME, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!” I stopped swimming and stood up, my chin barely above the waterline. “Are you talking to me?” I nervously enquired of the disembodie­d voice, like Truman addressing Christof in The Truman Show. “YES, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” came the resounding reply. “THIS IS THE CANOE CLUB.”


I share this story to demonstrat­e just how short-sighted I am. Of course, it doesn’t, for the most part, have any impact on my profession – I wear glasses, job done. But occasional­ly, very occasional­ly, my chronic myopia causes problems.

The first film-related instance was when I was a teenager on a blind date to see Tim Burton’s Batman. Embarrasse­d that I wore glasses with lenses as thick as the bottoms of coke-bottles – being a teen in the ’80s was a cruel time – I turned up without them, meaning, for me, it really was a blind date. The film was effectivel­y a radio play, and I had to return to the cinema the following night, with mates, to put images to sounds. To make matters worse, the date went badly and I never saw her again. Not that I’d seen her that night either, you understand.

My first job-centric disaster arrived a couple of months into my first gig as a film journalist on Flicks, a freebie magazine you could then find in cinemas. The MD decided I should visit the printers in Leeds to experience the thrill of seeing 800,000 copies roll off the belts. The morning of the trip, I lost my glasses, but didn’t dare cancel on the MD. So I travelled

170 miles to witness blurs, splotches and fuzz, returning to London none the wiser.


All of the above, however, pales in comparison to the time I stepped on my glasses. The optician told me it would take a working week for a new pair to arrive, and we were on deadline at the mag, so there was no way I could take the time off to just lie in bed staring at the haze where the ceiling should be.

You know that scene in Notting Hill where Hugh Grant loses his specs and wears goggles to the cinema? Well, by this time I’d invested in some prescripti­on googles to avoid a repeat of the canoe club incident, so I really did do that, only taken to the nth degree – I wore them for a week in the office, and to a couple of evening screenings, and on the Tube so I could get home safely. And likewise a few years later when I lost my glasses, only by this time I had a pair of prescripti­on sunglasses, so I wore those to screenings instead. They made even the sunniest romcom look darker than The Godfather: Part II, and me look like a dickhead poser, striding into a gloomy cinema in Ray-Bans. Talk about making a spectacle of yourself.


 ??  ?? The first – and possibly the last – time we can compare Jamie to Hugh Grant.
Jamie will return next issue… For more misadventu­res, follow: @jamie_graham9 on Twitter.
The first – and possibly the last – time we can compare Jamie to Hugh Grant. Jamie will return next issue… For more misadventu­res, follow: @jamie_graham9 on Twitter.
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