15 December, 2005

Season's bleatings

Today was the day of the Christmas lunch at work.

To give you an idea of how preposterous a conceit this actually is, even the phrase "Christmas lunch" is wrong. It's a three-course free-for-all which is served in no particular order (it's true - you can get your pudding before your starter) and which comprises such wholly obvious festive delicacies as fruit salad, boiled potatoes and apple pie.

It's the only time in the entire year I eat in the canteen; I usually bring lunch into work, eat it at my desk then go out for a walk. I break this rule for the Christmas lunch because it's a stupid novelty and the boss never takes part and it only costs a pound. Yes, a pound in total for three courses of stuff that each Christmas threatens to resemble a proper seasonal feast but each Christmas always fails at the final hurdle. Or rather the first mouthful.

I suppose I also enjoy taking part because it gives me a chance to moan about how much I hate taking part. The food is served from midday - a stupidly early time - but you have to be in the canteen five minutes to twelve or else you won't get a table and won't be served until 1.30pm. You still have to queue for ages, then take your plate back to your table where, with your colleagues from your office, you grumble about how crap the food is, slag off the other departments sitting at all the other tables, pull a few crackers, read the shit jokes inside, get bored waiting for tea and coffee to arrive, give up waiting for the tea and coffee to arrive, then return to your office and do bugger all work all afternoon because you're too sleepy.

This year I got away without even paying the pound. Well, there was nobody there to collect it. So I actually went one better than before and ended up in profit.

Ironically, for all I'm slagging it off, the company Christmas lunch is the only seasonal thing I ever do nowadays. There are no parties where I work (a wholly Good Thing), there are no big family gatherings to attend, I haven't got any decorations to put up in my flat, I don't do anything religious, I do my Christmas shopping online, and there's no turkey to be eaten anywhere because I'm a vegetarian.

I'm happy with that at the moment, but I do wonder if I'll become more prone to indulging in some self-conscious yuletide trimmings as I get older. I suspect trivialities become touchstones with advancing years, and what with the Christmas and New Year holiday traditionally inviting emotions of the rawest kind, even boiled potatoes and apple pie might mean something of substance some day.

Only if they're a pound, mind.


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