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The lights come halfway up.
The usherette glides backwards down the aisle.
Such poise! The horizontal steadiness her tray maintains!
When you’re grown up, you want to be an usherette.
Meanwhile, you’re ushered forward by your mum and dad
to purchase orange juice and ice cream tubs.
The usherette, who knows you from your weekly visits,
sweetly smiles while searching for the items with her torch.
You hand her half a crown; she gives you change.
You settle back between your mum and dad to drink the orange juice
while Pearl and Dean comes blasting from the screen.
And then the feature.

Twice or sometimes three times in the week
an evening’s smoky entertainment in the Edgware Road
is yours and mum and dad’s for shillings:
Gaumont, Regal, Odeon, Blue Moon.
Security and love. You’re safer here
than in the newsreel cinema in Praed Street in the afternoon
when men in raincoats choose to sit beside a solitary girl
although the place is almost empty.
There, the usherette performs a double service
as confectioner and guardian angel:
‘If those nasty men begin to bother you,
just get up and come and tell me, dear.
I’ll sort them out.’ They did. You did. She did.
Which makes you doubly sure (it’s not a fleeting whim):
when you’re grown up, you want to be an usherette.