MASKS to clamp their stupid, yakking mouths shut. Careful what you wish for, eh?

Civil liberty infringement or not, I would have backed any politician pushing to legislate for the forced clamping closed of lips in cinemas.

As I have previously harrumphed about in these pages, those who natter their way through films are the worst type of people. One strike, and the next time you fancy catching a movie you should be allowed in to the screening only after donning some sort of modern scold's bridle.

Well, here we are. It was only January - a mere eight months and a thousand worlds away - when I called for a return to ushers in the cinema in order to try to take the reins on all the terrible behaviour from selfish dolts ruining the experience for everyone else.

Now, after events unimaginable to most of us, masks are mandatory in cinemas... just for reasons wildly different to those I had imagined.

We all have the habits and pleasures we've missed most during the coronavirus lockdown and things we're surprised to have adapted quickly to living without, whether that's a daily takeaway coffee, trips to the gym or the company of our colleagues. Some of us have adapted quite readily to that last.

I find I adapt quite quickly to new situations, perhaps from a childhood moving home and school regularly, or perhaps a benefit of lots of travel as an adult. I would have expected to pine badly for the cinema, having been a two or three film a week viewer, but twice-weekly Zoom cinema club has filled the gap nicely.

It's been, actually, quite lovely to enjoy movies from my own sofa without worrying about the screening being ruined by the relentless dull commentary of the peabrain in the row behind or the mindless Facebook scrolling of the dolt in front.

But now, now there are options.

Some cinemas opened last month and film lovers were quick to get back to the big screen. I hesitated. Partially because it seemed too soon to take the risk of cosying up in the darkness next to strangers when I haven't cosied up next to my nearest and dearest yet.

Partly it was because I have a cinema loyalty card and the cinema chain in question hadn't yet reopened. Don't judge. I do still support my local independent cinema but a Presbyterian upbringing has left me with a keen sense of a bargain.

This week, though, the time has come. Cineworld reopens tomorrow and, giving them a day's head start to iron out the first night crinkles, I am booked to see Tenet on Thursday. I've just made the mistake of reading a three star review so I'm starting to regret the idea already.

That, and I Googled "cinema & coronavirus" only to be met with a story quoting two infectious disease epidemiologists who say going to the cinema is the "last thing" they'd do. It ticks all the bad boxes: people eating in an enclosed space, large gatherings indoors, low circulation.

Cinemas, of course, say they are meeting all the government guidelines and making their screenings as safe as possible for customers. There's, as with everything else, an element of personal responsibility too: wash hands, wear mask, stay away from other people (seats are two metres apart in Scotland and one in England).

Personal responsibility is one of the issues though. The release date for Tenet has been moved back several times to ensure it can have as lucrative an opening as possible. It's been delayed in the hope of still drawing in the crowds.

Folk I know who have been to the cinema in the past wee while have spoken of heaven - quiet screenings, the place almost to themselves.

Now that a big release is showing it's going to be much busier and much more reliant on customer good behaviour. Prior to lockdown the cinema was a wild west of rampaging self-interest. No hoots given about anyone around them, cinema-goers would chat, munch, use their phones (and tablets and laptops; I have seen the first with my own eyes) as if they were in their own homes.

It needs impressed upon people now that they are not in their own homes and their actions, now more than ever, have consequences beyond raising the blood pressure of those around them.

I love a cinema snack along with the best of them but hopefully folk will avoid bringing in snacks to last the whole movie and instead keep their masks on. Hopefully they'll keep the mask on and not talk. Hopefully, hopefully.

If they don't, they're ruining it for everyone. Limited audiences can only mean increased ticket prices, which in turn means cinema becomes an art form only available to those with ample disposable income. At the moment it is an egalitarian art form that allows the majority to take pleasure from it.

I dearly hope it stays that way. If a global health emergency can't convince cinema-goers to think of those around them then nothing will.