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Friday, December 07, 2007

Party favours

This Life column from Day and Night magazine in today's Irish Independent

Good news folks (well, for me anyway). After spending last weekend rummaging about — and eating my way through — the Christmas markets in Manchester, I can report that I'm now officially after getting into the Christmas spirit. Or should I say spirits?

Yes, all it took was a full Saturday afternoon faffing around in seasonably chilly weather, getting increasingly buzzed on gallons of mulled wine and specialist German beers, all while munching on plates of bratwurst, fresh giant macaroons and mini pancakes to fully awaken the festive beast in me.

And for the next three weeks, that beast will call the shots (sometimes literally). The party season is now in full swing, and who are we to fight it? After all, one of mankind’s oldest Christmas jingles practically insists on us donning now our gay apparel and spending the entire season in a jolly state. To do otherwise would be like affront to Santa (or something), and what monster would want to upset Santa?

Every year, it never ceases to amaze me just how many Christmas parties you can pack into one month. Then there are the endless house parties, liquid lunches, sneaky afternoon tipples, after work sessions, Kris Kindle parties – the whole period really is just a merry old assault on the senses (not to mention the liver).

Naturally, the flagship event is the official Christmas party, that great levelling institution that unites CEOs, managers and their lowly worker monkeys on the one even plane for a night of good-natured, festive fun. There are no barriers that night, no distinctions of superiority and inferiority. On that one night, they are all buddies, they are all equals, and all your actions are inconsequential, covered as they are by gentleman’s agreement that what happens at the party, stays at the party.

Of course, only an idiot believes those last few statements to be true, and that’s usually the same idiot who will end up insulting the boss and/or their loved ones, or walloping said employer after getting a bit too rambunctious as he/she animatedly sings along to Fairytale of New York, or who gets the bright idea to jump on the table for an impromptu performance – with corresponding dance routine – of You Can Leave Your Hat On.

For no matter how cool and “call me by my first name” trendy the higher powers are, you can never, ever forget that they are ultimately the hire powers. The Christmas beast I mentioned earlier will want you to disregard all your usual corporate caution in order to feed its insatiable appetite for seasonal mischief. You must learn to resist it and drown it out, perhaps by way of a simple censorious statement that you can say aloud to cancel out the wicked thoughts it’s putting in your mind.

So, for instance, you’re at the party and in the middle of a chat with the managing director when the beast stirs up and demands that you suddenly reach out and toss their hair and/or challenge them to a drunken pantsless dance-off. “Yes Bob, it is great news that the weekly estimated net user systems have been statistically…NO! DOWN BEAST! DOWN!... stronger that last year.” True, you may come across like you have some kind of Tourette’s, but just consider the alternative.

With some careful management though, the beast should ensure that you have a fun few weeks ahead. And, as I say every year, take full advantage. The party season may be exhausting and potentially ruinous, but it will be January soon enough - the dark, miserable hangover of months - where you’ll have more than enough time to recover mind and body, and where you’ll be only too glad to have a few merry (or, at the very least, fuzzy) memories to shore you up.

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