I have only ever been to one office party in my life. Quickly it became apparent that it isn’t the ‘done thing’ to drink as much Amaretto as you can, try and bully everyone else into doing the same whilst becoming increasingly abusive and then disappear, turning up two hours later crying, shoeless and dripping in shawarma chicken.
The office party is a shining trinket to the stupid magpie. It is Pandora and Tony Blair rolled into one hateful package. It may look bright and sparkling, but it will kick you up the arse and call you a cunt the minute your back is turned. The office party is the event equivalent of Jimmy Saville; that jewellery and promise of baking with John Noakes may seem tempting, but don’t be fooled; you’ll be sobbing to a Mirror journalist in thirty years time, ruing the day.
Ultimately, the office party will break you because it is wholly deceitful and utterly dishonest. ‘Come and join us!’ it shouts, banging its rainbow drum and throwing streamers into the air. ‘You’ll have so much fun with us!’ Don’t. You won’t. You’ve spend the year steeling yourself for refusal, but when that list goes up in the staff room; well, it doesn’t look bad, does it? Kam Sang? Isn’t that the new Japanese place in town, the one you’ve never been to before? Oh and look, Jen and Anna have already put their names down. They’re alright Jen and Anna, you don’t mind them. Well, maybe you could just go for an hour. Maybe learn as lesson from last year, eh? Chalk it down to experience.
This is the point where resistance starts to shatter brightly. You may well like Jen and Anna, but bear in mind, you like them within the confines of work. The office. Where you talk about what stationary you’re going to order and what you had for tea. It’s unlikely that your revelation about eating Findus crispy pancakes will cause mass hysteria and months worth of gossip by the photocopier.
However, telling everyone you like DP and hurling up ten glitterbombs over the duck pancakes probably will. Jen and Anna aren’t your friends, because they don’t know you. They just pretend because it’s easier, because they have to spend more time with you than their own children. The minute you show your true self, they will turn that office party into your own personal Watergate. Avoid.
The office party is the time in your life when you have to be truly honest with yourself. You know you’re not going to stick to the ‘not drinking’ policy. The minute you trip into that restaurant, all those cunts laid out in front of you like suckling pigs, you know you’re going to have to get excruciatingly pissed just to get through it. The key perhaps, is in the manner of pissedness. Trying to recreate Derek and Clive sketches with your line manager probably isn’t a great idea – ‘no, I’M Peter Cook. Now you say that line….about Liz Taylor’s cunt. Just say it! Say it, you fat useless bastard’ – nor is ‘educating’ the staff team in iglooing and Portuguese breakfasts. Just slump. People can cope with a glassy-eyed slump
Ah, bless her. She’s had a hard year. She probably needed a little blow out. You’ll probably get a lift home from Responsible Andy in Recruitment and – although you might have to suffer an ‘accidental’ tit grope because he thinks you won’t remember – it’s maybe preferable to the whole office thinking you’re a sexual deviant with the mouth of a Cambodian sewer. Or as my old boss put it: ‘the most shameful display of behaviour I have ever seen….a disgrace to this firm….and language I wouldn’t expect from a navvy’
Like any group of people thrown together who neither like, nor have any interest in each other, the office party is a brittle creature. It lacks both the warmth of friendship and safety of tolerance. It is a fractured, disfigured accumulation of paranoia, weaponry and one-upmanship, and really, no one will miss you if you don’t go. They’ll say they will, but they won’t. They’ll elbow you in the side and say, ‘oh go on, it won’t be the same without you’, but they’ll soon forget. Stay at home. Watch a film. Go down the pub with your mates and laugh properly – not your work laugh - at good stuff. Let Jen and Anna be bummed by Responsible Andy for a change.
You can follow Dina on twitter @dinacanyodel.