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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Don't tell me to go to the cinema, Simon

Tonight we went to the cinema. It was a cold night, this is no longer a cheap evening, even at the Barnet Odeon, and because the Odeon chain's credit card booking system seem to have an an aversion to my web browser, I wasn't even certain we were going to get in. However we did, and there among the trailers and the adverts for beer, was a very polished commercial in which Simon Pegg and Nick Frost congratulated us for coming out to the cinema rather than just waiting until the film came out in DVD. Only in the cinema, they said, could you enjoy the film as it was meant to be seen, with a big picture and the best sound.

Now it's probable that when Simon Pegg and Nick Frost see a film it's in a nice preview theatre in Soho with airplane seating and proper projectionists. They don't have to sit, as we did tonight, in a room that feels like a strip club. They don't have to watch an expensively shot commercial for Orange being screened in the colour pink, proof, if proof were needed, that nobody is actually running the programme and making sure that we are seeing things as they are meant to be seen. They don't have to put up with the sound of the special effects from the Harry Potter film coming through the plasterboard dividing this strip club from the slightly bigger one next door. And nobody accidentally switches on the house lights fifteen minutes before the end. And is presumably so far removed from the experience of the customer that they remain on. The members of the audience just laugh. What are they supposed to do? Go off and complain? It would be a day's march before they found anyone.

As we exited at the end one woman was asking the youth in the foyer whether there was a manager she could talk to. He was busy doing what most cinema employees spend most of their time doing - putting carbonated beverages in a refrigerator. I didn't help her because I wanted to get home. On the way back my daughter said that the last time she'd been there she'd had to point out to a member of staff that the roof was leaking. Compared to that our experience had fallen within a range of acceptability.

Complaining about the contempt with which cinema chains treat their customers is as bootless as pointing out that people swear at football. Despite the blandishments of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, I shall henceforth vote with my feet, which will remain in the "up" position. At home.