The cinema has a bin and after you throw your money into it one man kicks you in the base of the spine while another one laughs at your wallet. You are given twenty minutes to recover and then you thank them and carry on with your life. When I worked in a cinema it wasn't like this. To get the comforting blend of humiliating pain and disgust you had to actually see the film. But hard times promote innovation and it's good to have your foibles serviced. Now you still have to pay, but it takes far less time. And there's no fuss. You could go on Gumtree, for example, but it's impossible to get someone to do it for free unless you're filming them, and I don't have a camera or a phone with a camera, and if you offer cash you'll end up paying far more than you would at the cinema before they'll do it anywhere near hard enough. Even the Special Brew guys in the underpass lose their nerve just before they connect, and they'll often offer you a Valium afterwards and say perhaps you ought to attend an evening class on how to make better decisions. Maybe meet someone. So it's only the cinema you can rely on to dish out a proper good and ruthless steel-toed shit on your life. All you have to do's turn up with an hour's wage in one hand and the expectation of a pleasant time in the other. They'll take care of the rest. With encouragement, you can drag yourself so far through despair that you come out the other side of it onto a plane of devastating joy. A good way to do this is to put your head in the bin and weep on all the money. I've seen some people ask to be smashed in the stomach or the balls, but they are clearly new and will soon be tired of childish agony. The spine's where you want it. You'll think you don't, but they'll insist that you do. During its first week of release I was employed to see Dude, Where's My Car at least seven times in full. I know what I'm talking about. My managers were angry about my habit of reading books and eating hot dogs in the corridor, instead of sitting in the back row making sure everyone was satisfactorily traumatised. You're being paid for this, they said, and you act like thirteen hours a day might be slightly too much. We've given you a torch. Little did I know that one day I'd be paying my own money to experience tiny fractions of global torment, beginning with the Nicolas Cage remake of The Wicker Man and continuing most recently with Looper. I want to go back to the cinema I used to work at and thank them. With my fists. But it went out of business in the first wave of the recession, and by now it'll've been turned into a Wetherspoon. There's no hope.