IT is simply not possible to over-romanticise the lure of the cinema.

Sitting in daytime darkness, insulated from outside distractions and reclined in a plush velour seat, transported through space, time and reality. And with snacks. I mean, come on. Snacks.

It's the finest entertainment, the great cultural leveller. From the most easily amused to the snobbiest of nobs, there is a feature for everyone.

Folks on first dates, long term couples keeping the romance alive. Teenagers tasting freedom for the first time. People who simply love a film.

In a world designed to encourage over-stimulation, to have you be eternally switched on to phones, computers, social media, gadgets' relentless beeping for attention, the cinema is a balm.

When I worked in Starbucks we had a Question of the Day, which, if answered correctly, secure the brainbox a free cup of coffee. My question was the only one no one was ever able to answer: What is the acronym Odeon claimed to stand for? (I'm not telling you, look it up). I've been loyal to cinema since in gratitude.

In the early days of a pandemic it's inappropriate to complain about missing the cherries on life's cake. Others are truly suffering; you cannot profess to be sad to be sitting on the sofa in your house - get a grip.

But the closures were temporary and, for those of us in love with it, we believed the cinema to be on its way back. Now, it seems there is a real threat to the future of the art form and no rush from the powers that be to do anything about it. As, it must be said, with all our art forms.

Cinema, though, has reached a particular crisis as, from Friday, Cineworld is to close all 127 of its UK and Ireland branches and will shut 500 US cinemas, affecting 45,000 jobs in the three countries. The Odeon is to operate on reduced hours.

As the news broke on Sunday night I made a straight dash to the website to book a fond farewell movie. There was nothing I wanted to see. There lies the rub, of course. The CEO of Cineworld described the situation as being "like a supermarket with no food".

James Bond, usually the man to save the day, has finally failed in his mission. The distributors have once again delayed the release of the latest film, making a destructive impact on cinemas.

It is a Catch-22 for the cinema industry. Studios refuse to release blockbusters without significant enough audiences to show them to. But without blockbusters cinemas have failed to entice audiences to return.

I was back at Cineworld as soon as it reopened and have seen several films since. Each time, however, I was one of only a handful of people - no matter the size of the screen. For social distancing and feeling safe, it was brilliant but for running a going concern, it was concerning.

With a Cineworld membership card I would see so many films that the cost of a ticket averaged about £2. Cinemas must have made a significant sum from food and drink sales but, with people required to wear masks and being less inclined to eat during a movie, that's another financial blow.

Cineworld was also, prior to the coronavirus crisis, in vast amounts of debt due to a massive and rapid expansion strategy which, of course, didn't take into account a global disaster with far reaching financial implications.

While I am gutted at the loss of Cineworld, there are other cinemas so, as a viewer, all is not lost. Your heart goes out to the staff, especially left to find out about the loss of their jobs in the press.

And it's the smaller details that cut: one worker told my colleague that they had been asked recently to buy up the pick n' mix. An early clue as to trouble ahead.

The situation rides a coach and horses through Rishi Sunak's proud boasts yesterday around the government's job support scheme, a binding joist in his plans for the UK economy. It doesn't work for Cineworld because it does not help companies earning no income, therefore not supporting a viable business or its staff.

At the same time, it shows the dire straits created for those on zero hour contracts, as many working for Cineworld are, who will not receive redundancy pay or be paid for their notice period.

Boris Johnson's first thought was individual responsibility - what else - as he encouraged the populace to go out and support their local cinema. On LBC radio the work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey said unemployed Cineworld staff could become care workers, repurposing their customer service skills. Is this the sort of careers advice to be offered by Mr Sunaks' new job advisors? I suppose it's difficult to give advice on jobs in a sector when there aren't any.

The government can't be slow to act here. The future of cinema must be protected and secured.

What does cinema stand for? It stands for a vital place in our cultural heritage - the answer's so obvious you don't get a free cup of coffee for coming up with that.