On Saturday night, Llew and I survived our first and last visit to ‘La Premiere,’ a so-called luxurious cinema experience run by Hoyts. We were lucky – we had freebies – but tickets otherwise cost $33 per person, and that’s before you even start on parking, food and drinks. I was so galled by the chasm between La Premiere’s false advertising and the grim reality that I was moved to email them the following day:
This is customer feedback, not an option supplied so I hope this reaches the appropriate person. I think you really ought to know the “gourmet menu” we suffered last night as part of the “unsurpassed luxury” of the La Premiere experience was the worst meal either my husband or I have ever eaten. We wracked our brains but couldn’t come up with anything more disgusting and disappointing than what was served to us last night. I really urge you to send one of your senior staff in there to experience the nachos and pizza for themselves. Your “food” gave me cramps so bad that I actually jolted awake in the middle of the night, and spent the next 40 minutes or so in the bathroom in a lot of pain. I think what bothers me most is the self-evident lack of pride in their work from whoever works in the kitchen – that they weren’t ashamed to send this vile rubbish out to paying customers reflects very poorly on your entire organisation, being the corporate framework that’s responsible for so clearly under-resourcing food & beverage staff and encouraging a workplace where this is okay. Let me be clear: it is not okay. This extortionate experience was “unforgettable” for all the wrong reasons, and I’ll be sure to tell absolutely everyone I know.
Those cramps? They were so intense that they truly did wake me up, whereupon Llew and I both thought I was having a miscarriage. I then spent the hour between 3 and 4 am in the bathroom, before finally realising it was simply my body’s attempt to expel the evil presence of La Premiere’s frightening food.
Food – always an obsession of mine – is taking an interesting turn what with the fledgling mission to make Baby J a reality. In general I eat very well anyway, but I still have to make changes to my diet. And it’s not just food. I took a short list of Baby J-related questions to my GP on Friday, and I have to say, I was in for a few surprises. The first was her ‘zero alcohol’ advice. As in, none: her recommendation was no alcohol for the entire pregnancy. Now, I wasn’t planning on necking a bottle of vodka any time soon – or ever – but I was vaguely aghast at the idea that I can’t have the occasional glass of wine with a meal without worrying about it or feeling I am doing something wrong. Was even this very common, very moderate scenario for the pregnant women I’ve known included in her blanket ban advice? Indeed it was, although then she applied a caveat: it would be okay for me to have a champagne toast at a wedding.
I’ll admit to being pretty dumbfounded. I’ve known a lot of pregnant women, and I’m not sure I know any – or maybe just one – who completely abstained during pregnancy. I’ve asked this same doctor many, many times – over and over again – if alcohol was a factor in either my miscarriages or in my later trouble conceiving, and her answer was and remains a resolute no. So what harm the occasional glass of red wine with dinner? She invoked the awful spectre of foetal alcohol syndrome, to which I spluttered, ‘Hang on, doc, that’s for women who drink often and heavily, I’m only talking about a single glass of wine once in a while. They’re hardly the same thing.’ And personally, I think it’s really unfair to women who did have the odd drink here and there during their pregnancies to dump them in the threat-of-foetal-alcohol-syndrome basket, particularly since everyone I’ve asked said their obstetrician told them to go for it. Her response was that because we know about foetal alcohol syndrome, and because we know the ways in which heavy drinking affects a baby’s development, we know that alcohol can have a negative impact on an unborn baby. At what level of consumption alcohol begins to have this negative impact remains unclear, so from her point of view, it’s just better to say no altogether. Bummer!
She also advised against any marital action until after the TWELVE-WEEK scan, and, since this was turning into a real party, she then dropped the progesterone bombshell as her parting shot. I asked her if I ought to continue the course of progesterone until the 8 week mark, as I’d both read and been told this was sometimes the case for women who’d had multiple miscarriages. Her reaction was completely unexpected. She was quite upset that Dr P’s letters to her summarising my IVF treatment had made no reference to my being on progesterone at all, and she went on to impart the sort of information that gives a girl nightmares. In a nutshell, she said that prescribing progesterone used to be wildly popular, but has become far less so because they’ve discovered a link with vaginal cancer. The link is this: of women who develop vaginal cancer in their 30s, some massive proportion (she said over 90%) are found to have been babies of mothers treated with progesterone during the early stages of pregnancy.
My jaw just about hit the surgery floor.
POSTSCRIPT: The manager of La Premiere sent me a very nice email yesterday, apologising for our nightmare nosh and offering to refund the meal money. I thanked her, but declined. As I said, it wasn’t at all about getting our money back, it was sincerely just a case of the food being regretfully so truly awful that it simply demanded a response. I hope some good comes of it for those who dare to cine-dine in future.