Christmas shopping over. For Dave: a wee Wii, so he can take it apart and back-engineer the Rom code to see how it works. For Charlie: a binary watch, mainly because they do not make ones that display in hexadecimal.
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For Mavis: a set of white Calvin Klines, slightly soiled and signed in black felt pen by George Clooney. It is what she wanted. And yes, the signature is genuine. The pants on the other hand were mine... it is a long story.
Yet another Christmas lunch. This time with the ops group at the Flea and Faceache. Not a pub that normally does meals, unless you count cheese and onion sandwiches made to order behind the bar. But the landlord is cashing in on the seasonal opportunity.
The dining room is a marquee erected in the barrel yard at the back, with trestle tables of war-time vintage covered with what looks like green tarpaulin. Three paraffin heaters raise the ambient temperature to just over freezing.
The food is inedible, but having paid £17.50 a head, the operators eat it anyway. Most are sick even before the black-forest style Christmas pudding arrives. I start to retch just looking at it. I offer to say a few words, but am advised that putting £50 behind the bar would be more appropriate.
There are reported to be three, possibly four, operators still lying in pools of vomit in the gents this morning. Exact enumeration would involve closer inspection than anyone is prepared to make. I could have given them the afternoon off, but it is the night shift in there.
Christmas parties are now in full swing in all departments. In truth, some have been since mid-November, but now all semblance of work has ceased. Instead, in pursuit of their festive religious duty, groups of revellers roam the corridors armed with bottles of vodka, sprigs of mistletoe and accessory items that flash green and red or, in the worst cases, play tinny snatches of traditional carols when pressed or pulled.
The week culminates in the final crescendo that is the IT office party. Imagine a cross between bacchanalian orgy, BCS meeting and Butlins showtime. In recent years the preponderance of men in IT has... well, dampened our aspirations.
This year, though, I have invited the student nurses from Bogcaster General across the road. Say what you like about stereotyping, but the combination of geekyness and nymphomania was a great success.
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