No gleaming Cadillacs as Scotland goes to the drive-in

Scotland is fairly new to "drive-in" culture, but with cinemas still closed or suffering from Covid restrictions, it has become a popular way to get out to the movies.

I first went to a drive-in in Scotland seven years ago.

To be honest, it wasn't quite the scene I imagined from watching classic US films such as Grease.

There were no gleaming Cadillacs with the hoods pulled down, packed full of preening teenagers with eyes on each other rather than the film.

Socially distanced entertainment

Think instead of a Ford Focus, packed full of noisy eight-year-olds.

The film was a special Halloween screening of Ghostbusters. It was the middle of the day and we had to squint to see the screen whenever the sun came out.

But all in all, it was a good start to the Scottish drive-in experience by events organiser Oli Norman, and his company Itison. So it was no surprise to hear he had planned a programme of movies in Scotland this summer.

Where else can you enjoy socially distanced entertainment with like-minded people – where you can safely go out, while comfortably staying in?

Although the truth is the level of comfort depends on your car. Those American convertibles were made for lounging in, British cars, less so.

We arrived for our screening of 1980s coming-of-age film Stand By Me with 45 minutes to spare and were guided by stewards into the centre of the car park at Lomond Shores.

Flash our hazard lights

It feels strange to be this close to other people, even if they are safely shielded in their own cars.

But we all tread carefully, leaving our cars only to buy food from stalls at the back of the park, or to use the portable loos, which were being scrupulously cleaned between visits by one very industrious lady.

The staff were all masked and we were encouraged to stay in our cars as much as possible.

There was a little bit of audience warm-up, and some in-car karaoke, but the only sense we had of being part of a shared audience was when organisers asked us to flash our hazard lights.

The whole car park bursts into light.

You can see why comedians might find the drive-in concept problematic for performing their acts.

It would be a bit like yelling jokes into a car park, to a deafening silence. A flashing indicator light doesn't really cut it.

Dirty windscreen

The soundtrack for Stand By Me was relayed to our cars on the radio. It's an important development.

The original American drive-ins would have played the sound on loudspeakers only, meaning it's drowned out by rain, and other noise.

This is essentially surround sound, each little cinema bubble only as good as the people in it.

Having stretched into a 6ft-plus teenager, my son was keen to keep the car to himself, for the space and the quiet.

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