WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward
I scribbled something about this time last year …. hang on… let me check…. no, that’s the shopping list…. that’s the reminder to take our cat to Monica’s moggie ranch when we go away… yup, I did indeedy. Yes it was about the joys of the company Christmas dinner and this is another saga that I will unfold before you, so if you can stay awake a little longer I will begin.
I was gainfully employed - what others there were getting up at the same time is anybody’s guess - for a small company that went some way towards having a Christmas dinner, regardless if things were going well, productivity-wise or not, as this was the one time of the year we were all together as one and we found out who still went to work there.
Put another way, everybody was there collectively regardless of what department they worked or performed in to sit and dine at this festive time. This included those who seemed to be stricken down with swamp fever at the start of the Wimbledon tennis season but surprisingly were totally recovered after the men’s singles finals were over and those who rung in to say that ‘leaves on the line’ would be making them late, so could we make a start without them until they got in, leaves permitting.
Being a small company, the deal or arrangement was that the company would pay for the actual meal at an agreed eatery chosen mutually between the whip crackers and the staff, but each individual paid for their own drinks as one year, one or three had abused the kind hand that was feeding them or rather paying them, and ran up a bar bill that made the NASA Neptune space programme fuel budget seem like the cost of a ‘Happy Meal’ with a can of fizzy drinkypoos by comparison.
But as we find in life there is always those who will abuse the best will and intentions of those who offer a kind gesture and so from there on we could eat on the company’s tab and drink at our own cost. Old Harry was a beacon of self resolve as at one bash he took his own vacuum flask with coffee in (he maintained the drink prices were too high, so no change there then) although when asked by the waitress if “everything was alright or did he need anything?” was perhaps surprised when he asked her for a china cup.
When this was spotted by our boss, whose eyebrows shot so far up his forehead, those close by thought he had suddenly acquired a hair transplant on his receding hairline, he went straight over and asked Harry what was happening and Harry replied: “I am not sharing! – the missus only made enough for me, so there”
This being a small event as such, one company I worked for had an event for well over four hundred people and at one stage there were those who were thinking of sending out for bags of potato crisps or packets of pork scratchings to keep going till the meal eventually arrived on the tables due to staff shortage in the catering dept.
So this small event was quite entertaining as one of ‘our lot’ was trying to impress the venue manager when he came out with the following while returning from the toilet.
“You might know who I am - my dad owns the waddyoumacallit business on the industrial estate as everybody knows our family!” with the response being a smile and a pleasant reply of: “Yes indeed we do and thank you for making me aware, Sir”
As he walked away, said manager turned to his head waiter and said in a low voice: “Do you know who that is? – well I do, so I want you to count the cutlery out and make sure it all comes back in again afterwards as knowing his lot, he will take it and sell it for scrap metal if he takes after his old man..”
The fact his own family would not employ him as he was a clueless liability said a lot and we think it was out of sympathy that our boss employed him as they were distantly, very long barge pole distantly, related. Hearing that nugget for a starter was enlightening and could it get any worse?
Within mere minutes later, our worse fears would be confirmed.
Kay from the accounts dept. strode into the room wearing a tasteful, low cut converted gazebo minus side panels it has to be said, and slung her wrap in the air and shouted out that she ‘was anybody’s tonight!’ and friend Alan nudged me as he banged his ears, then asked if A, was it compulsory and B, could he be left out as he had to watch what he did due to the medication he was taking.
It later transpired that Kay had had a few glasses of the falling down fluid at a wine bar earlier before arriving at our venue and some blamed the ‘rush of heat’ in the room while others suggested it was a ‘cry for help’ while those less charitable said the ‘cry for help’ would be from any victim foolhardy to entertain her invitation.
Oh dear - why us?
By now the rumblings of the food being on the way and for those of us to get ourselves seated around the assorted tables that sported Christmas crackers, festive printed serviettes and odd cruets with a bottle of b-b-q sauce added on – was a festive beef burger or similar on the menu?
Traditional turkey was however as it turned out was the mainstay of the meal but still the presence of the b-b-q sauce was still a bit disconcerting but away we went.
Meanwhile during this eating process, Kay from accounts was still reminding folk she was ‘available’ with Sonia from the wages dept. telling others that she thought she ‘was quite missed’ and others pointing out no, she was still there with us sadly..
The small but compact catering staff did their best to get the hot meals quickly onto the tables with those first served finished well before the last ones got theirs, but otherwise all went well although there was a kerfuffle on the middle table as somebody, somehow had bent the needle on the syringe holding that table’s gravy supply - we were told that in the past the gravy boats ‘had been abused’ (?!) hence this remedy. George boasted he managed three squirts before it gave up the ghost.
Its fascinating that a good meal is usually forgotten very soon afterwards although a bad one is talked about and long remembered months, years afterwards as being so and in this case, its a fifty-fifty split although I still wonder if Kay from accounts finally did enter the nunnery (she knew most of the songs from the ‘Sound of Music’ by heart - her ‘Climb Every Fountain’ was a classic, very emotional - plus had the same hair style as Julie Andrews) after she left the company months later and why the b-b-q sauce on the cruets?
PS: Merry Christmas