The classic office Christmas party is defunct, but I won't miss it that much - Gaby Soutar
It feels like the concept of the office Christmas party is dead.
Everyone’s cancelling their planned festivities because of Omicron. Some of us are disappointed, others are relieved - secretly or otherwise.
Apart from feeling awful for the restaurants and bars who are losing bookings, I feel pretty neutral.
I’ve been at this paper for nearly 20 years and it’s been a while since we had a proper festive knees-up. In the latter days of working in the office, we’d only really go as far as the occasional cheeky al-desko mince pie and a glass of tepid Prosecco in a borrowed Sports Direct mug.
However, for the last few annums, my department had an anti-festive celebration of sorts, which involved a delivery of sushi in January.
Don’t say we’re boring though. In fact, you may not guess it to look at us maki munchers now, but the team used to know how to party with the best of them. We weren’t photocopying our bums or anything, though we would have, if we weren’t quite so terrified of the editor’s PA and what she might do to us if she found out. Also, that could always backfire at a newspaper, when the equipment doubles as a scanner, your shenanigans go to press and life is ruined for the foreseeable.
Anyway, alcohol is often to blame for any office wildness. Every single one of our staff nights out would end in a visit to Edinburgh’s famous Fingers Piano Bar, which is normally open until 3am. I especially remember a legendary Christmas party about 15 years ago. It resulted in my former colleague getting so drunk that she couldn’t remember where she lived.
The taxi driver had to circle around the general area until inspiration struck. I’m not sure if she claimed that one on expenses. Also, another work mate managed to remember her address, but fell asleep on her front steps, wrapped in her cosy scarf.
One of my husband’s former bosses once got so plastered at his work meal that he climbed into the Italian restaurant’s indoor ornamental fountain to do some dad dancing, and ended up getting chucked out. It was like a horror film remake of the La Dolce Vita’s Trevi Fountain scene.
I never want to get that out of control in front of my colleagues. They don’t want to see drunken Gaby - maudlin, then mildly hysterical, but with the stamina to macarena and floss all night.
However, there is one thing that I do miss about these occasions, and that’s seeing colleagues trailing off to the work toilets, looking grey and downtrodden, with fingers stained by newsprint. They’d emerge, taking to the heavily carpeted and badly lit catwalk beside the newsdesk, sashaying and looking sparkly, exotic, glittery and so alive, with novelty dangly earrings shimmering. From pigeons, to peacocks. There would be a cloud of fragrance that would leave the advertising team sniffing in their wake.
My beautiful colleagues, maybe I do miss our festive office parties a tiny bit.
Gaby Soutar is Lifestyle Editor and Restaurant Critic
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