Last year, my family and I moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Bradford-on-Avon, England. Our mission: try out life at a slower pace for a year. In my series Brooklyn to England, I’ll write about the weekly adventures of living in the English countryside with my British husband, our 4-year-old daughter, and my newborn. Come with me as I go from strollers to prams, nappys to nappies, and whatever else it takes to raise a family abroad.
One of the best things about being a new mum (aside from the constant cuddles), is the bevy of baby-friendly activities you’re suddenly invited to try. I’ve done everything from baby massage and yoga to sign language and ballet. And movies. God bless the cinema. In New York we had a ‘Crybaby Matinee’ at the local multiplex, and in Bath we’ve got ‘The Big Scream’. The best part is, it’s not a crappy cartoon or baby friendly movie, it’s something normal. Maybe even something you’ve been dying to see but figured that, as a slave to your babe, you’d never go to the movies again, living half a life robbed of popcorn smell and overpriced tickets.
In New York, the Crybaby Matinee was nothing special — a reduced price ticket for the one o’clock show. And there’s no guarantee there will be other mums/babies in there with you. I remember going to see The Fighter when my daughter was born and then leaving halfway through because I couldn’t handle the dirty looks other moviegoers were giving me. “Bringing a baby to see a violent boxing movie with bad language? Has she no shame?!”
But it’s different in Bath. For starters, it’s written in the fine print that you are not allowed into The Big Scream unless you are accompanied by a baby. Never again will I feel the wrath of hungover singles playing hookie from work. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Before you’ve even paid for your ticket, a barista greets you in line and takes your complimentary drink order. And we’re not talking child-size Cokes here, we’re talking cappuccinos, soy lattes, hot chocolates…
Since the movie is screened inside a comedy club, there’s no same-ol’ setup with rows and rows of seats. At The Big Scream, you sit on giant, overstuffed beanbags on the floor. One beanbag is just the right size for mama and baby to spread out, breastfeed, take naps, and enjoy the movie while cuddling up under the cosy fleece blanket they provide.
Sounds like just about the best thing ever, right? Hold on, there’s more. After the barista comes by to deliver your beverage of choice, she makes a second round with a tray of biscuits. Chocolate Hobnobs, digestives, chocolate sandwich cookies, fig newtons — grab a few so you don’t have the hassle of getting up during the film to walk over to the bar area for a second helping.
I’ve been a few times now, and sadly, my Big Scream days are numbered. In the beginning, my son fed and slept through about 95 percent of the film, but as he gets bigger and more curious, he’s much more interested in the bright lights and loud noises. Maybe I’ll try to squeeze one last Scream out of him if something really good comes to the theatre, but it’s always a gamble what movie they’ll be showing. For some reason, watching Fifty Shades of Gray in a roomful of cranky infants just seemed wrong to me.