I love French movies, especially Jules et Jim and De Battre Mon Coeur s'est Arrêté. I cried like a fool at Kristin Scott Thomas in I’ve Loved You So Long, and thought Into the Wild was one of the most beautiful pieces of film I’d ever seen.
I’m not a film snob, mind. I’ve sobbed my way through Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Goodbye Mr Chips, and I get a real thrill from popcorn movies like 2012 or New Moon. I’ve got an extensive John Hughes collection, and Ferris Bueller might just be my favourite film of all time.
I think films are best seen at the cinema. I love the feeling of being completely cut-off from outside and immersed in the world of the film for a few hours. It's kind of magical.
But having kids makes going to the cinema tricky. I regularly take Flea to see movies, but without a local babysitter, it’s been impossible for me to see a film in the evening since she was born. And these days, I almost prefer going in the day – sometimes I have a whole cinema screen to myself – which is seriously cool.
So once a week or so, I go to the cinema in the afternoon. I go on my own – if I’m honest, I prefer it that way – before I go and collect Flea from school. I’m lucky because working as a freelance journalist means it’s pretty easy to take three hours off in the afternoon, and make it up in the evenings.
At the start of 2009, I made a resolution to see 100 new movies this year. What’s been really interesting is seeing the Other Mothers respond to this.
One woman I used to be friendly with would say to me, “Oh, I wouldn’t have time to go to the cinema all the time like you do,” in tones that clearly said she was an infinitely better person for not being able to spare three hours a week for her own pleasure.
At the school gate when I pick up Flea, the women often chat about their day. I stopped telling them when I’d come from the cinema, because I got so many comments along the lines of: “Ooh, it’s alright for some, isn’t it?”
This week I dropped in on my sister-in-law after collecting Flea from school and told her I’d just been to see New Moon (totally rocks, and I’m not embarrassed to admit it. Well, not much). “God, I can’t go to the cinema, I’ve got two kids, I'll have to wait for the DVD,” she said. “You’re so lucky.”
My SIL is married and her two kids are at school. She works 20 hours a week. Her sister and mother live five minutes down the road and she’s got a dozen friends living nearby who could baby-sit. The only thing stopping her going to the cinema, or anything else for that matter, is herself. She’s convinced it’s more important to dust her radiator cabinets.
I work hard – I have to, I’m self-employed – so I refuse to feel guilty for carving out just a little bit of time to do something just because I enjoy it. But it sometimes feels as though the Other Mothers compete to be seen as the most over-worked, the most frantic, the most martyred. I don’t get it. Why should we feel guilty about having fun?