This week, I’ve spent more time than feels right researching the Peaky Blinders look. If I want to go full Peaky, I need to trawl charity shops for a frusty coat and gain a love of senseless violence.
Why does this matter?
Because my employer has requested the pleasure of my company at a two-day conference. The evening between the days is Peaky Blinder themed. An office party. We’ll have such fun. (Please apply sarcastic inner voice to that last sentence). The minimum dress code specifies a flat cap.
One of my first acts as leader will be to ban ‘enforced work social events’ – or as they are sometimes whimsically known, office parties.
I’m no killjoy. Despite being largely sober these days, I’ll happily go for a drink after work. But I choose who I drink with. The organisation of any works social event where absence is deemed an act of party pooping should be punishable by a large fine and community service. Add an enforced theme to the office party, and I’ll up the punishment to life imprisonment or a spell ‘on the wall’.
What is work, anyway?
Nobody works because they want to. If they did, what we do between clocking on and off wouldn’t be called ‘work‘. We’d find some other term like ‘fun‘ or ‘happiness‘ or ‘the less soul-crushing part of the day between being jolted awake and drinking yourself to sleep‘.
Many of us spend our working hours in open-plan hangers, exposed to communicable diseases and forced to mix with fellow wage slaves. We form pacts with anyone who displays similar signs of horror. These are ‘work friends‘. Some become real friends. Most remain the kind of person you cross the street to avoid during out-of-office hours.
For me, being made to spend three (or more) unpaid hours with such awful people ranks alongside the 8am root canal on the morning of my San Francisco wedding.
It’s not just the office party that needs to go. I will also outlaw ‘Leaving drinks’. Why go to a packed pub to celebrate someone’s flock freedom? Whatever you wrote in the big card someone failed to hide as it did the rounds of the office, you know you’ll never see Bob from Accounts again. He did a lovely little speech about how he’s sad to go and it’s the people not the place he’ll miss. Bob even emailed asking you fabulous peeps to stay in touch. By Monday morning, we’ll struggle to remember his name.
Why put your liver through it? Chances are you’ll end up talking shop with someone you hate. You’re not being paid. Go home.
The office party goes big
The biggest crime is the Office Christmas Party (OCP). Much as those who hold the company purse strings like to insist the OCP is a massive perk, everyone knows better. It’s a production-line dinner with limited caustic wine and a chance to watch Sonia from Sales snog her manager. You’ll find yourself locked in the basement of a Premier Inn while a DJ plays ‘Last Christmas’. At some point, you’ll hear the words ‘Come on, dance. You don’t look like you’re having fun’. Because you’re not.
My first act as leader will bring an immediate end to office parties.
But I’m not a total ogre. I’ll allow in-hours office kitchen bitching. I may even bend the rules for a ‘team’ lunch, but all other enforced socialisation with people you’d cheerfully throw from a very high window must stop.
In the words of Mumsnet, am I being unreasonable?