Some weeks ago I was trying to watch The Paper at the Empire, Leicester Square, and the couple behind me wouldn't stop jabbering. Loudly. Natter, natter, natter: oh, doesn't Meryl Streep look old (it's Glenn Close actually), isn't Michael Keaton funny (no), don't you wish we'd gone and seen something else (yes - Look Who's Talking Now]).

Nothing could persuade them to shut up. They laughed when one couple moved and jeered at the usher who asked them to pipe down. 'I'll talk all I want to,' said the man. Then, pointing at me, he grunted, 'I'm not going to be quiet for him.'

He was as good as his word. And why not? He got away with it because he was allowed to get away with it. Instead of turfing the oaf out, the management skulked away, just as they skulk away when you complain about the morons who kick the the back of your seat, spill popcorn everywhere or attempt simultaneous orgasm in the seat beside you - with the seat upright.

They're the television generation, of course - 20 minutes into a movie they expect a commerical break. Even their bladders are on TV time; a pee every half hour and, hey, let's sit in the middle of the row. . .

Is there anything to be done? Yes. Customers in the US got mad as hell and wouldn't take it any more. They made cinema owners flash 'QUIET' cards and ensured that management enforced the code of silence as ruthlessly as the Mafia. So let's see ushers patrolling the aisles again: at pounds 7 for an average West End ticket, isn't it the very least UIP and the other distributors can do?

(Photograph omitted)