The London Paper – 18 Dec 2006
Christmas comes but once a year and let’s thank the Lord for that. I don’t think I’ve gone a year in the last decade without getting pretty damned close to losing my job at the office Christmas party and this year was no exception. About 500 bank employees of all ranks attended last week’s festive knees-up, which took place in an extremely plush venue and involved wonderful food, playground rides and enough champagne to keep Tara Palmer-Tomkinson fuelled for a year. As always, I behaved like some wet-behind-the-ears graduate trainee and as always, it was the grog what done it. By about 10pm I was drunk as a skunk and then the fun really began…
First of all, I allowed a simmering rivalry with a colleague get out of hand. Gentle ‘matey’ mockery escalated quicker than a Middle East border dispute and soon I detected worried glances from those standing around us. Fisticuffs are not unknown at these events but this time discretion proved the better part of valour and I allowed this hulking rugby player to walk away.
Secondly, through a series of schoolboy double entendres I made it fairly clear to two married colleagues who were having an affair that I knew about their romance. The withering look I received from the lady involved suggested I may not be on her Christmas card list henceforth.
Thirdly, I became overly aggressive in an embarrassingly public way with my boss. It would be a crying shame if my bonus were to suffer because of a few misjudged comments about his haircut. These buggers always seem to make sure these events take place just before bonus day – probably to catch out loose cannons like myself.
Finally, I got on the dance floor, began throwing shapes like an ecstasy-addled teenager and started flirting outrageously with various ‘ladeez’. These events are one of the key ways a City secretary can bag herself a millionaire. But I don’t think even if I’d had Abromovich’s billions and Clooney’s looks that there were any gold-diggers there sufficiently desperate to give me a second glance such was my obvious state of inebriation. I finally stumbled out at about midnight and woke up on my sofa looking and smelling like Ollie Reed (and I say that fully aware he’s been dead for 6 years).
In the City, Christmas is truly the season to be jolly hung-over and office parties here are a hideous minefield where the stakes can be very high. A successful flirtation could bag you a millionaire whilst ‘inappropriate’ behaviour could cost you your outrageously well-paid job. Smarter, more experienced brokers often don’t attend their office Christmas parties knowing that the potential downside is too serious. Considering the strange glances I’ve been getting at work ever since last week’s tomfoolery I’m beginning to think this may be the correct strategy if I want to continue my job in this god-forsaken hell-hole (which frankly is still open to debate).