I’m conscious that I’ve spent much of this year bemoaning the insecure lot of freelance writers so I’m rather pleased to have found something positive to say about it at long last. I spent this past weekend at a hotel in the south of England and it provided me with a front stalls view of a circle of hell unknown to Dante and to freelancers: the office Christmas party.
The first I witnessed was a typical social mismatch of people who have little enough to say to one another 9 till 5 Monday to Friday without having to pull any crackers or wear reindeer antlers. The girls, I observed, were dolled up in sequins. The guys…. weren’t.
Then on Saturday night I happened upon the pre-dinner drinks reception for a very large outfit. Black tie, wives invited. I’d guess they were a big accountancy or law firm. There they all were, sweating in their dinner jackets, cursing their Spanx and yelling over the roar of Chardonnay-fuelled gaiety. I saw a woman standing alone in corner, clutching a glass and trying to look like she didn’t mind. What kind of party people allow that to happen? Was no-one keeping an eye open for loners? I should have advised her to slip away, go home, have an early night with a boxed set. After all, what would she have missed? A catered turkey blow-out. Speeches. Excruciating in-jokes. The sight of the head of HR in a paper crown. A droit de seigneur snog with her boss?
I went up to my room and gave thanks that whatever the vagaries of my working life at least I’ll never have to endure The Works’ Christmas Do.