WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward
Its about this time of the year that many companies, firms or groups have their Christmas dinner or ‘the Crimbo bash’ as its called in some circles and having been to a few over the years, one event that still brings back memories is the following skirmish.
A friend worked for a large company that had such an event and he had a spare ticket as it clashed with his wife’s company bash, so rather than waste his said ticket...
Dave told me that if I was expecting anything silly, stupid or downright hilarious then this would be the one and I, being the trusting soul should have known better – Better was the name of the chef at the venue but he had a small moustache that he now wore under his nose, so perhaps its why I did not recognize him to start with.
As we entered the venue Dave’s boss shook everybody’s hand as they arrived and his wife smiled one of those pristine bolt-on smiles that you know is so insincere and false that you spot it a mile off.
In effect she was there initially to check out the ‘competition’ as in was anybody wearing anything better, more exclusive or more gaudy – I swear her matching lug loops (AKA earrings) and necklace were culled from the same chandelier as when she breathed in, they all shimmered in unison and I quite expected her neck to light up and say ‘Welcome’.
It seems to be a ‘woman thing’ that one checks out the others to work out how much items of clothing cost, female for the wearing of, plus where from and were tyre levers used to shoehorn the other targeted person into such garments and if so, how many people were involved in doing said shoehorning duties as it could be a team effort in some cases – “I have NOT put on weight! – they have used thicker stitches”
The men folk seem more bothered about their tie being straight with others not sure what a tie was or what its purpose might be or the remembering to carry the empty ciggie packet for the ‘quick outside for a ciggie moment’ as they/you say: “Would you believe it? – I must have given my last one away..” and is usually followed (hopefully..) by somebody saying: “Hang on – have one of mine..”
It rarely fails.
Once pass Checkpoint Charlie or Charlene, we were in the exclusive main banqueting hall or put another way the only banqueting hall all things considered.
The writing on the invite/ticket pointed out that the company was providing the meal etc but not the drinks.
As Dave pointed out that it was tried, just the once, and met with wonderful support with assorted employees living their fantasy world out on the dance floor as the excessive free alcohol took effect with those thinking they were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers plus trying all manner of ‘moves’, with two needing First Aid plus one attempting some form of striptease with quite a few shouting anti-encouragement of ‘Keep ’em on, Ron, keep ’em on, boy...’
One thing that amazed me was there was the sound of a large dinner gong clouted at the anointed din-dins time that really boomed across the hall and I half expected Tarzan or somebody of his ilk to appear to say ‘Dinner is served’.
The tables had our names on little holly and berry shaped cards but in my case, along with some others my name was now Guest.
Dave and I sat down before the mumbling hordes descended upon us to get seated and waiting in high – or low – expectation of who we would be sitting next to on either side.
This can be both enlightening and downright depressing to think you have to spend the best part of one-and-a-half to two hours, depending on how slow they are serving the edible stuff up and possibly making polite conversation to a total stranger.
On Dave’s left was Sue from the wages dept who was on her own and had struck up a conversation with Alex from the planning/drawing office who was also on his own and he overheard the following between them while suffering from ‘lean-itus’ (its a strange disease or affliction that affects the upper half of the body that makes it lean in a given direction or angle that makes the ear double its efforts to hear things in greater detail) but mainly in their direction otherwise the following would be lost for all time and at no extra charge, I shall relate to you now.
It seems that Sue had cast an eye over the menu and was opting for the ‘meat/poultry free’ selection in that when it arrived, it had all the appearance of a market garden on a plate and would have put your average salad to shame but to be fair considering it was a Christmas or festive-themed bash, full marks to the venue for including the option amid the usual turkey and suchlike offerings.
Alex spotted all this market garden on her plate then said to her: “Would I be right in thinking you are a vegan?” to which her eyes lit up as she replied: “Well, I used to be – but I don’t watch ‘Star Trek’ anymore…”
It was explained that Vulcans were characters on TV’s Star Trek, but pretty close is vegan all things considered.
The look on Alex’s face was quiet something and possibly not quite the reply he was either expecting or had in mind but for somebody who worked in the planning/drawing office perhaps best not to dwell on that for too long.
I will mention at this point that the meal was well cooked and delivered to our tables piping hot and I don’t think we heard a bad word from anybody the entire time about the catering and that is quite unique in some respects.
Towards the end of the evening a free raffle was drawn from tickets we were handed as we came in that we did wonder about.
The wag running it slipped in one ‘joke’ prize to liven it up a bit and went like this.
“Next prize is a night out with ‘our Doreen’ from the canteen or a pack of twenty xxxxx brand cigarettes ..” and was followed by a lot of mumbling and loud chit-chat with somebody approaching the said wag and after a bit of whispering going on, the following was announced.
“I do apologise as I am given to understand the last prize has caused considerable upset so I would like to clarify the following – the prize being a night out with Doreen or a pack of twenty xxxxx brand cigarettes but, and I do stress this, the ciggies can be either plain or filter tipped..”
Doreen came in at this point and offered to black the wag’s eyes out with no mascara involved but with no second option offered, tipped or plain.
Have a Merry Christmas.