While I am an adopted ‘Son of Oxford’, this week you find me back in my homeland of North London.

I’m sitting at the desk of my room in a reasonably priced hotel in glamorous Whetstone, not far from Finchley, where I did most of my growing up. Why am I here, you ask?

To watch movies. I’m back at the Cinema Showcase, where we are herded into a West End cinema to watch up to 15 movies over three days. While usually I dip in and out with the help of the X90 coach, I’ve decided to do this month’s event from start to finish, which requires a local base. Luckily, the Film Distributor’s Association are paying for the accommodation and travel, all of which may result in some labelling this as a ‘work jolly’. Well, they’re half right.

While it always irritates me when people describe my job as “sitting watching films all day”, it’s not something that keeps me up at night (if you’re looking for adulation and respect, journalism is not the profession to go into). It’s a difficult job at times, but it undoubtedly has the occasional perk.

Sometimes a bag of free stuff (T-Shirts, soundtracks, DVD’s... even a small digital camera once) finds its way to you, and the more important you get the bigger the perks get.

I know several colleagues who’ve been flown out to foreign countries for the weekend, completely paid for by the studio, in order to do an interview, and even overheard one guy who claimed to have been flown to Florida to swim with dolphins, with the only proviso being he watched a movie at the end of the day.

While I’m very happy to be put up anywhere, my biggest ‘jolly’ came last year for the press conference of Disney’s Brave, held in Edinburgh. The studio paid for the flight, a couple of nights in a rather posh hotel, even gave me a room service allowance. For a guy who started out spending days emailing just to get into a screening, it was pretty remarkable.

There was even a third day planned where we would have a party with the cast and crew in a Scottish stately home, but sadly I couldn’t make that event (although for the life of me I can’t remember why – must have been damn important!) Why do studios do this? Well, to butter critics up, I suppose.

Spending the night in a five star hotel certainly puts you in the best possible mood to watch a movie, and for some it may even sway their opinion of said film. While it’s understandable – your experience of that film becomes tied up with the memories of the trip – for me, that’s never happened. I’m a big believer in keeping your integrity and being able to be honest with the people who are reading your reviews.

However, if any studios fancy flying me across the world, they’re very welcome to try!