Friday, December 16, 2005


This is the season of ghastly works Christmas events. I often wonder if the parties of legend, where people photocopy their bottoms and Debbie from accounts gets knocked up in a broom cupboard by Nigel who does the wages actually happen, or if they have been mythologised to make people think that their works get togethers are going to be more interesting than they think.

All I can recall from my working past is an unpleasant procession of sitdown meals which were not much removed from school dinners in style, except that at the school Christmas dinner there was the added excitement of searching for the sixpence in the pudding (I "won" in 1972: it was one of the few triumphs in my life).

At works meals I found myself wearing a rictus grin for the rest of the afternoon/evening as colleagues forced themselves to let their hair down by attempting to be slightly amusing at best. All around me, people were laughing at great volume as my rictus grin started to give me cramp. Even the fifth glass of wine couldn't stop me from being true to my nature: I'm a miserable old hag.

One of life's rules is that you always work with people who you would avoid in everyday life. Having to spend time with them as they drink "one over the eight" (or more likely, "one over the two", such is their unfamiliarity with alcohol for the rest of the year) listening to confessions about the troubled state of their marriage ... well, it's just cruel. And the thought that some of them might end up having drink enhanced sexual relations is even more distressing. It is surely impossible to fancy ANYONE you have ever worked with, ever.

The only thing I can say with not a little smugness is that I've never done anything I regret at a works do. Okay, I once told an awful boss an anecdote about the snooker player Tony Knowles
which went on a bit too long, but otherwise I have maintained my dignity in the face of adversity.

I advise anyone else reading who is attending a works party or meal over the next few days to do the same.

Good luck to you. You will need it.

Thank for your sage and much needed counsel.
My departmental christmas dinner is taking place today.
I am working at home today.
I will join in, in spirit, by having a bit of toast for lunch, and ask myself a few inane questions about what vegetarians eat at christmas.
I will have an extra glass of banana, pineapple and coconut smoothy, and arrive back at work 2 minute late.
Bollocks to it all.

vjqjtcp - what you might as well talk about at fucking christmas lunches for all the fucking good that it does you.
Betty - I'm confused. You're advising everybody who goes to a works party to tell their boss an awful anecdote about snooker player Tony Knowles?

What happens if you don't know any Tony Knowles anecdotes? What happens when the Tony Knowles anecdotes start to run out? Surely said boss might start to get a little bored when he hears the one about the 146 break and the hollow cue for the fifteenth time that evening?

Just seeking a little clarification, that's all. Your guidance on modern manners is as always much appreciated.

Jurupci. A small variety of Panamanian chicken, or the punchline to a very rude joke. Depending on the pronunciation.
Vicus - At least inane questions about what vegetarians eat at Christmas is a slight improvement on the usual inane questions people use to break the ice, about what kind of mortgage you have and which Council Tax band your house is in.

I thought there might be a few people leaving anonymous comments saying "people like you make me SICK, ruining it for everyone else. Why can't you enter into the spirit of things just this once?"

On the other hand, they are probably half cut by now and hopefully throwing up.

Mark - the Tony Knowles anecdote didn't really concern his prowess as a snooker player. In a previous job a worker in another department used to be infatuated with him - the commentator even said "there's a Tony Knowles fan by the look of it" as she cheered enthusiastically during a televised match. Anyway, at one point there was some sort of tabloid scandal about him and this woman shouted after him as he left the Crucible "Tony, I just want to let you know that your REAL fans don't believe all that rubbish that's written about you!"

There. I can hear people yawning.

That's why it was an ill-advised story to recount.
Hi Betty, just dropping in from surly girl's place.

At our work, we have a 'dry site'. No alcohol whatsoever. If we have our Christmas lunch on site, the rules state that it MUST be catered by the cafeteria (which is just gross) so we go off site to the Legion. But then, it has to still be alcohol free. We trick four different people into organizing the lunch each year and we all pay for the lunch plus a bit extra. Then we play some silly games that have prizes (gifts) and we actually manage to have quite a bit of fun. This is quite an amazing for a bunch of anal retentive scientist type people.

I haven't been to a 'real' office Christmas party for about 20 years. Miss those.

Have fun!
Cheers, Kyahgirl. I suppose I am able to have fun, provided I'm not forced to. I prefer to oil the wheels with alcohol - I'm not sure I could've faced a works outing without a couple of drinks inside me.

I'm sure all scientists don't live up to the stereotype - it's one of those cliches like "all accountants are boring" which are spouted by know it alls.

See, I had to start whingeing again.
Heh--you certainly work with a raunchier bunch than I do! Most of the people I work with fall in the category of what one of my metaphysical friends calls "Corset Christians." Having fun is the 8th deadly sin with these folks. The place where I work is run by the Methodist association. We have no alcohol at our parties, ever!
But we do have fun sometimes.
I learned the hard way a number of years back not to dip my pen in the company ink. I ended up having to leave the job because when things went sour, he started spreading horrible rumors about me and people believed him!
That's ok--I hated that job anyway!
So I guess, have more fun than my co-workers, but don't do anything I wouldn't do!
The Cheesy One
Your workplace sounds like a right laugh a minute even by the standards of most workplaces ... I used to find that there was one Christian wherever I worked, so I always had to be on my guard (I'm sure that it's obligatory to have one Christian, one two faced bitch and someone who sucks up to the boss at least at every company. It keeps everyone on their toes so they're just miserable enough to carry on working).

Bloody hell, every comment on this post is of epic length for some reason.
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