Alice-Azania Jarvis: The day I fell in love with the Everyman

In The Red

So, I went. On Sunday afternoon, my boyfriend and I tripped off to the Everyman in Belsize Park to see Black Swan. And you know what? It was love at first sight. The leather sofas, the nice Australian waitress who brought us tea and cake, the speakers in the bathrooms that continued to play the movie so you knew what you were missing. We loved it all.

I was actually sort of hoping this wouldn't happen. I know I was lucky, getting to go for free like that. It's very rare that I accept those privileges – what good would this column be if it was all fabrication? – but this was simply too good to resist. I think, somewhere in the back of the mind, I was hoping it would be awful. Then I wouldn't be a grasping hack doing favours for freebies, but a principled investigator rubbishing false claims.

Alas, not so. I suppose the people at Everyman wouldn't have invited me had they not known their product is good. Within minutes of arriving, my boyfriend was exclaiming: "Why haven't we been here before?" Why hadn't we? Why had we sat for years in the filthy, hot, miserable Odeon when this existed just around the corner? We can't even blame the cost of tickets, because they are exactly the same. So there we are. I'm a convert. More than that, I'm an evangelist: find an Everyman cinema now! Go to the bathrooms! Use the posh hand soap! Relish it! It's fab.

Sadly, our experience had to come to an end. We tried to hang about, bed down in the comfy chairs for the night, but there was cleaning to be done before the next showing (take note, Odeon: cleaning). So we decamped to the Euphorium Bakery across the road. And there – after the enveloping niceness of the Everyman – we stumbled across some of the worst service I've seen in a while. One waitress was fine, perfectly nice. The other was pure sulkiness. Stoneyfaced, eye-rolling sulkiness.

"Is it possible to have some cream with the coffee?" asked my boyfriend. No, he was told, in no uncertain terms. Really, I asked. Don't they have any cream to serve with their apple pie? No cream, only clotted cream, insisted the woman, sighing and rolling her eyes. Of course we insisted she bring that – who wouldn't after that sort of treatment? Though I half wish she hadn't. It was slammed down on the table with such force that all we could taste was her anger. Service with a smile, as they say.

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

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