Every year there's an inevitable date in the calendar. It could be something that you look forward to. It could be something that you loathe.
It's the Christmas Party.
It begins earlier than your annual sob to the John Lewis advert. Even before the time you see the chocolate Santas in Tescos.
"Where are we having the Christmas party this year?" asks one of your colleagues as you waft away the smoky heat emitting from the barbecue. The person who organises the party pales slightly. They do their best to play down their decision. It could be at the swankiest bar in town or it could be around the photocopier. Either way you can't please all of the people, all of the time. The choice of venue ripples through the company and everyone's got an opinion. Father Christmas hasn't even started on this year's list.
Question: Tell me what you think about me...outfit.
Planning an outfit is something that people take really serious. I mean f'realz. Even I was surprised. There's no gender bias here. Quibbles come from all corners and even the most macho of men has a worry about the appropriate gear needed to cut a rug.
There's more talk of tan than the casts of Geordie and Jersey shore combined. I've even seen someone time their stubble to the date of a party...it might have been a mirror.
The day's finally here. Beyoncé has dropped an album with less promotion than this shindig. Invites are out. Balloons are inflated and you let your DJ colleague know what your favourite song is; in the hope it will give you a brief respite from the inevitable Avicii.
You're at the venue now. You've dressed to impress and eyes are locked with the fittie who's name you don't know. You throw some shapes hoping the object of your affection might catch them. It's all going well. Until someone shrieks from across the room. The worse has happened...
The bar has finished.
Now I've been working since I'm sixteen and I've never drank so I've seen this play out at every party I've been to. You can almost feel the change in the room when the bar stops serving. How could this happen? Not to be the smug sober guy but I'll tell you why...
It's because you guys drank it all.
Of course when the booze is flowing the hook-ups come thick and fast. Some are successful, others not so much. There's flirty smooches to the left of me and "deep and meaningfuls" to the right. I once had the privilege of someone asking me if it was working. I didn't realise they were hitting on me. So it's fair to say it wasn't. Where's Tim and Dawn when you need them?
The lights are on now but you're still not at home. The cold air ripples through your ill advised party outfit. Why did you not spend more time thinking it through? That guy from that department and the girl who sits over there are snogging near some cold sick.
It's the end of the party.
You see more of your colleagues than your friends and family - it's only right that you should celebrate your successes. Have you noticed how everyone loves each other?
By this point you just want to sleep.
Although it doesn't stop there. The gossip has now taken on a life of its own. It's like a bad (secretly amazing) Katy Perry song. You wake up with a napkin stuck to your face and a host of notifications and texts. Each one more deplorable than the last.
Either you wouldn't have it any other way or it's your idea of hell.
It's the Christmas party.