I am a freelance writer living in Gloucestershire. I have been writing family style articles in the form of columns for newspapers since 2000 and spent four years presenting an interview chat show on Forest of Dean Radio.
The very words, "tea matinee", conjure up images of the 1930's. An era when television was not an option, and when people would go to the cinema on a weekly basis in order to catch the newsreel, and a couple of films. The term "matinee idol" was coined during this time and used until the 1960's. These were the glamorous film stars of the day: the ones idolised by the teenagers who could get along to the afternoon showing. My own parents, who would have visited such matinee showings in the 1940's, still talk about the matinee idols, and so for me the term has always made me think about movie actors from the black and white movie era, like Clark Gable, Rudolph Valentino and, slightly later, Paul Newman.
Traditionally, along with the tea matinee would come a free cup of tea or coffee and biscuits. So, not only were the tickets less expensive at the matinee showings, but refreshments were included in the price. Recently, a number of cinemas have reinstated this tradition, The Palace in Cinderford, being one of them. True to tradition they charge a very low fee for entering, (£4.20) and include a cup of tea or coffee and biscuits with the price.
As we are now officially in the run up to Christmas, they are currently serving mince pies too. The tea is served in china, and so the whole experience becomes rather like a nice extension to your own sitting room. A very big extension of course, with a widescreen cinema screen included.
On balance they tend to show films that people may have missed first time round, but sometimes there are current films too. On the day we went, Skyfall and The Help were showing. We went to see The Help, which we missed last year when it came out. It is quite frankly one of the most moving films I have ever seen, and one I am very glad to have caught on the big screen. Had I not had the opportunity to see the re-run at The Palace, I would have had to have waited for the DVD, which wouldn't have had the same impact at all. So for me, going to the tea matinee was a double treat: a film I'd missed, and an opportunity to see a film at a cinema with a free cup of tea on a spare afternoon. What a bargain!
We thought that perhaps we would look conspicuously young for the audience, and indeed Eldest Daughter did bring down the average age that day. But that said, the audience was mixed, and was by no means limited to senior citizens. And besides, Hubby's and my tastes in films can differ somewhat, so if I want to catch chick flicks that I have missed, and I happen to be free during the day, then this is a great opportunity to do so.