MARK Kermode started his career as a film critic early. Even as a child he would go to the cinema as often as he could and keep notes on the movies he saw.
"Back then we didn't have video. I kept a notebook because it was a way of reminding myself about what I'd seen and what I liked about them," says Mark, who can now be heard sharing his forthright opinions on The Culture Show and Radio Five Live with Simon Mayo.
Another movie aide memoire was the soundtrack album.
"When we were young our videos were soundtrack albums. On the front cover would be the poster, at the back would be all these stills. You would listen to the record, look at the stills and relive the film in your mind. That was how we watched movies again and again."
Music is Mark's other great passion. He plays double bass in skiffle band The Dodge Brothers, They perform Americana bluegrass/ blues and have just added silent film accompaniment to their repertoire.
It is a combination of movies and music that brings the writer and broadcaster to Birmingham next month, when he will be presenting a concert of soundtracks - performed by the CBSO - that have proved particularly meaningful to him.
In the second half of the show, which also visits Manchester, London and Cheltenham, he is joined by an actor with musical suggestions from their cinematic back catalogue. In Birmingham it will be Jeremy Irons.
The series of four concerts falls just after Mark's 50th birthday on July 2, although he says that was down to coincidence and when the orchestra was available rather than his choice to have a public celebration.
"It became a standing gag 'what are you going to do for your birthday?'.
'I'm going to do a concert with the CBSO'."
It will be an eclectic and "willfully personal" programme with pieces from The Exorcist, Mary Poppins, the little watched Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and Planet of The Apes.
"I have always said that everything you need to know about politics you can learn from Planet Of The Apes," says Mark.
"The concerts are just a nice thing to do. You've got music and film, the two things I really care about, and it just happened as I tip over the abyss into terminal old age."
With his rockabilly style that is a throwback to the 50s, Mark says he is not particularly concerned about the passage of the years.
"I have never understood people who deny their age. My wife (Linda Ruth Williams, a film lecturer) will tell you, I've been telling people I'm two years older than I am for years - partly because I'm very forgetful and genuinely can't remember."
Fortunately, unlike the stars he writes about, he is in a profession where age has its benefits.
"Most critics I know, the older they are, the more films they have seen. If you look at someone like Philip French (who files his last column for The Observer in August after 50 years), Philip didn't wake up one morning and know all that stuff. He just carried on watching more and more movies, which is what has made him the greatest film critic in the UK.
"I'm not saying if I carry on as long as Philip I'll become the greatest film writer in the UK because he is just such a brilliant writer and has such an encyclopedic knowledge.
"If I can carry on doing this until I drop of my perch it'll be great. I still think it is slightly astonishing that I've got this far."
Mark Kermode and Jeremy Irons will be at Symphony Hall on July 9. For more information go to www. Kermodefilmmusic.co.uk or call the ticket hotline on 0121 345 0600 or at www.thsh.co.uk
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