The tree went up today. In keeping with tradition it is real spruce, but the team decorate it with items of IT detritus. A few yellowing reels of paper-tape are preserved for this very purpose, as is a box of now obsolete electronic components. The techies supply small circuit boards with arrays of LEDs soldered into them, programmed to flash in what are supposed to be elegant sequences.
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Under the tree we place all the freebies collected from conferences and supplier presentations over the year - well the worthless ones anyway. A veritable scree slope of stress balls and unfeasible three-in-one text highlighters spills onto the reception floor.
And on the windowsill, a manger. This one is more or less traditional, although Mary has been been replaced by Ada Lovelace, Joseph by Charles Babbage and the location is Manchester rather than Bethlehem. As it should be, the manger remains empty until Christmas Day. On that day someone comes in especially and ceremoniously places a tiny scale model of the Small Scale Experimental Machine on the straw.
Call from David Hopalong who wants me to talk to the board of MK Dons FC about "Football and the Green IT Agenda". I said yes, provided I can wear an AFC Wimbledon sweat shirt.
Dave is reporting difficulties with the Christmas rota. We need to have a few people on call for Christmas and Boxing days and a skeleton staff in the offices for the rest of the week. Suddenly all our employees, devout Zoroastrians, Pagans and Zen Buddhists among them, express a deep Christian conviction that exempts them from doing a stint over the festive period.
I have solved the Christmas rota crisis. I let it be known that I would be manning the service desk myself so that staff can have the time off. I swear I heard the collective groan as the group e-mail hit the general office.
The idea of returning in the new year to the kind of mess I would cause advising users for three days was unthinkable of course. Lots were drawn and Dave had his volunteers within the hour.
In London for a seminar addressed by Bleater Pear from the Department for Confusions and Libel Grievances, who told us not to worry about climate change. Apparently, e-government has been so successful in reducing carbon emissions that it is alright to build the third Heathrow runway after all.