Thursday, 22 November 2007

'Tis nearly the season...

About now, there is a myriad of events to celebrate the festive season, and I’ve already done a few evenings, shaking hands (the active tense, not getting them…) eating lumps of unidentifiable pastry shaped like ear-plugs and loads of those miniature sausages, which are about the size of a baked bean. Also there are the drinks, which are pouring from huge industrial buckets suspended from the ceiling, and channelled constantly through the little hands of frighteningly young and very pretty attendants, with names which include at least three ‘Z’s and a couple of ‘XC’s.

So far, I’ve trodden on a very tall blond lady, so tall and lissom, that I couldn’t quite focus on her face! … Nobody knows I’ve been to a party, unless I’ve sent a tray of drinks crashing over the balcony rails at least once, or upset a pile of peculiar looking sushi all over the floor (best place for it at these events…or any other time for that matter…). Conversation goes something like ‘Oh Hi, …(Stamp) … Aaaaargh …Oh, I’m so sorry…What do you do…. Fantastic … Give me a call…etc etc… (Crash) ...Oooops... No problem; SIR...’

I’ve even spent a pleasant half hour discussing terrorism with a senior guy from the Met. (Why is it impossible not to keep on getting refills when talking with an officer of the law? I had about three more, and every tip I gave him, like getting nerds to screen world-wide emails for hidden clues on attacks, was pleasantly responded with a concise term, usually ending in ‘ics’, and a patient explanation as to how they do it. It was a fascinating chat, and of absolutely no use to me in my business.)

Luckily I’ve bumped into many old chums, and we’ve compared injuries, and promised to meet again next year; just like we said in 1987. Yesterday, I think I went to sleep listening to someone explaining Spanish pensions, which again was useless for me.

When I used to organise these bashes, I invented the ‘Three Pace Rule’. This involves making lapel badges with printing which is large enough to be able to read from ten feet. That way, you can cruise through the crowd, and approach the people you want to meet, like attractive ladies from investment banks or names from respected property organisations, but better, you can also avoid the ones with a company name like ‘Septic Drains’, which will not really do very much for one in the short term.

I do try and stick to the adage that I must be judged as capable of talking to anyone, irrespective of the value of the conversation, but when I’m only at an event for an couple of hours, I really must work the floor, and listening to someone describing a ‘soil back outflow’ he installed in 1990 is – well – not a good accompaniment to a wisp of smoked salmon and a chilled Sauvignon.

Another problem is that most of these parties are going on in almost complete darkness! I can’t even see where I’m going let alone read someone’s card, and if some girl band is shrieking rubbish from a speaker close by, it’s practically impossible to say or do anything except yell your name, completely misunderstand what the other person is saying, and wander off with a vague expression of ‘who the f*** was that?’

Actually, the evening parties have been enjoyable and useful for good business, but getting home late is not really what I like doing, and it begins to make the system creak when they’re back to back. Tonight, I have yet another binge to attend, but I’ve decided that I’d rather sit comfortably at home with Mrs S, than discuss bridge construction in The Andes with some wild-haired engineer waving his arms all over the place and dribbling design calculations and orange juice...

There’s just no contest!

13 comments:

idle said...

Too true, scrobs.

I have just been reminded that I have not yet said Yes to an office party in Geneva on a Friday evening in mid-Dec. A Friday evening? And wake up in a Swiss bed with no hope of a hangover-busting breakfast, and have to spend most of Saturday getting home again? Yougottabejoking.

Scroblene said...

Don't go Idle!

See you in the pub instead!

I'm really glad I'm not going out tonight, and seriously looking forward to the witching hour at 6.00pm - especially as the Darling/Brown fiasco will be on the news; even the BBC!

fuchsia groan said...

Me and my other half (my other half and I?)are quite happy to curl up on the sofa with a good bottle of wine and a movie. Noisy crowded parties don't do anything for me these days.

electro-kevin said...

I really enjoyed our social bash at the Rowing club - we know people there and have a right laugh. I'm also going to a railway do with comedian and Status Quo tribute which I'm looking forward to immensely.

Corporate events sound ghastly. And so many of them to attend when you're in that line of country.

Like business stop-overs in hotels it wasn't until I did them (with Eurostar) that I realised how much I hated it.

Why do corporations bother ? Does it really achieve what it's meant to ?

Scroblene said...

Fuchsia; you're probably right, but I do need to get about, and sometimes this is the only way, however the liver grumbles...

Elecs; I agree with you there, stop-overs can be incredibly lonely and boring. I think the bashes, (not only corps, but more property orgs etc.) use them as continuation of contact with everyone in their line of business. I used to question their value, but realised that if I didn't go, I began to lose touch with a fundamental part of my business, just by not being there!

Ed said...

I haven't reached the lofty heights of being invited to many shindigs but I do remember being asked to help out with the champagne at a family friends' Christmas business drinks and for some reason everyone there acted like a-holes towards the "staff" even though I was only there as a favour.

My uncle used to get sent on snazzy trips all over the world but he said it was rubbish because all he saw was the inside of a Hilton Hotel.

Daisy said...

i am glad mrs s is able to keep your attention...a lot of times people don't have the other half and the social events make up that missing piece for them...as my husband is general manager for his company i have the distinct pleasure of accompanying him to several of these over the next month...I HATE THOSE PARTIES!!!!!!!!!

Scroblene said...

Ed, luckily, these bashes are made of fairly open people, usually above being unkind to staff.

I was amazed at the staff at one particular Lawyer's bash this week; they were great, and if you can smile at them the moment they see you, they'll keep the old wine glass ticking over all night, and also you always get the first dive into the canapes!

Daisy, That's a hard call you have there! Mrs S would demand a dress allowance for each event, but she now prefers not to come along. I did take one or other Daught on a couple of occasions, and they were fabulous company for me, and the hosts really made us welcome.

Daisy said...

you have to let me know her secret scroblene...as i go out and get my own...just to think 24 years of it...i am owed some money here!

Ed said...

Oh yes, always be nice to the ones serving the wine!

Lilith said...

The only official dinner I have been to in decades was lunch at Mansion House. I had to buy a hat, and I didn't get drunk :-(

Scroblene said...

Hey Lilith; Mansion House is only a couple of hundred yards from Cannon Street Station.

I wish I could have realised that when I was rounding all the corners - seemingly on my hands and knees - trying to find a train home...

I bet you looked good in that hat! Was the perm in place then? I love hats now, Mrs S bought me an Australian Kakadu Hat for my birthday, and she's having one for Christmas... (a similar sort of hat don't you know...;0)

ps why do we all have to be special friends of Tuscan Tony to talk on his blog now? He sent me a super bottle of olive oil, and now I can't talk to him!

Lilith said...

I had no perm Scrobs, but the hat was purple felt, with feathers ;-)

TT is back :-)