We lived at the foot of Great Junction Street, in Leith, opposite the State Leith Cinema, and every Saturday my cousins and neighbours and I would be sent 'over the road' to spend an entire morning watching The Batman, The Scarlett Horseman, Superman, Captain America, King of the Rocketman, Flash Gordon, Zorro, et al, tearing up the screen. I remember the excitement, the noise, and the sheer joy of being part of that huge army of kids cheering the entrance of every hero and booing every villain.
Years later, after we had moved to the area I feature a lot in my comics, Lepertown, I was only an occasional visitor to the movies. Of course the cinema was no longer on our doorstep, but TV had also become much more important, and the shows had become much more sophisticated and child-friendly. Saturday mornings were now spent in the company of the Banana Splits and the Double Deckers.
Somewhere around this period, Batman: the Movie, starring Adam West and Burt Ward, finally made it to Edinburgh, to The Playhouse Cinema (a John Fairweather design based on The Roxy in New York), at the top of Leith Walk, and I was aching to go see it. As fate would have it though, my parents went shopping on the Saturday that all my friends (not a Batman fan amongst them; at least not as big a Batman fan as I) decided to go see the film, and when they came to talk me into going I was unable to go. It would be a gross understatement to describe me as pissed; I was more furious than I can describe even today, that those people were going without me, and that my parents had conspired to deny me my right to see Batman. In fact I think it left a scar that can still be (faintly) detected today.
Okay, so there I am fitting the description 'stroppy kid' already, as you do, and I am also bearing a permanent grudge, because of the denial of my basic human rights as an owner of many Batman comics, and I am acting-up at every single opportunity. In fact I'm doing everything except a 'dirty-room protest' and a 'hunger strike'. Eventually though, it got wearing and so I gave in and accepted my parents' crappy compromise, that I could go to the pictures myself. To see what, I didn't care. I just went, the following Saturday, to the Playhouse expecting, I don't know, something for kids.
So I arrive at the Playhouse and the feature is 'The Red Balloon'. Oh my god, I was furious. This was what I was going to see instead of Batman? It wasn't even in English, it was in French, and I hated French. But that didn't matter after all, because it was a silent-French movie. It just kept getting better.
Anyway, the curtain rose, and what I saw on the screen was a kid like me running around familiar scenes of urban decay, and running through familiar narrow streets that could have been in Edinburgh's Grass Market or in Infirmary Street and almost from the very first second I was transfixed by this simple, silent, tale of a boy and a balloon.