Dec 102010

Old Susannah attended the Foyer Gallery Restaurant on Crown Street last week for a show of wintery paintings of Alpine resorts by Anne Moore.  The great and good of Aberdeen were at this excellent show – including none other than our Lord Provost himself.  He was instantly recognisable in his chain of office finery and with his red-coated bodyguard/escort in the form of a blonde woman.  He stayed a good 30 minutes, and then was off into the night – no doubt to the next event, probably in a taxi or council-supplied car.  Value for money indeed.

On the other hand the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, travels the streets of London by bicycle, or he takes public transport, shows up at functions looking a bit dishevelled and while BoJo often has one blonde companion or another with him, he doesn’t always wear his chain of office or get chauffeured around.  If Boris would only spend a bit more taxpayer’s money, he could elevate his profile like our Lord P.

Season’s Greetings!  Whatever you are celebrating this winter, let’s face facts – this holiday business is a minefield riddled with potential disaster at every turn.  Provided the City and Shire haven’t run out of salt and grit, and you can actually leave your home – beware!  Resistance to the seasonal events is futile.  There is no escape from the family Christmas dinner, dreadful television, indescribable gifts you don’t want and strange drinks parties  –  but with a little forethought you might escape the year-end festivities relatively unscathed.  Best of luck.

The Office Party : The word ‘Office’ is defined as ‘a place in which  business takes place or a service is offered’.   ‘Party’ is a noun referring to a ‘social gathering’.  Put ‘Office’ and ‘Party’ together and you have an artificial event with a moment or two of humour at best, which is guaranteed to end in career disaster, tears, social disgrace, and possibly an arrest or two.

The office party might take place in the office itself, which typically involves hazards guaranteed to block your promotion and/or ruin your marriage.  Stay away from the special punch Fred in Accounts has blended; don’t eat any of the homemade cookies Sheila from Marketing brought, and definitely, definitely don’t go anywhere near any photocopiers or supply cupboards under any circumstance.

If you and your work colleagues go out on the town for the office party, you have a new set of problems to consider.  The best restaurants were booked months ago, and if you didn’t get one, Old Susannah hopes you enjoy your tasteless turkey and soggy sausage rolls.  Doubtless Trina from Advertising will be wearing a mini skirt more appropriate to a Spanish beach and various Santa-with-reindeer-and- snowmen-themed plastic pins with flashing lights and charming bells, topped by a pair of reindeer antlers.  And 6” heeled sandals – and no coat!  For her, this passes as subtlety.  The ensuing pride you take in her attire will be matched by pride in her manners, language and decorum.

Either way, you will be rewarded with a nice pair of socks, white under wear suit able for an octogenarian or worse yet – the Christmas sweater

After you’ve had your indigestible meal and undrinkable wine (which you all drink anyway), it will be off to a bar or ten to find the alcoholic cocktails most likely to mix badly with what you’ve already ingested, ensuring a hangover the next day, if not  a more immediate technicolor experience.  Jim the new manager will do something inappropriate with Ellen by 10pm, and another 6 hours or more of further drinks and kebabs will follow.

After the office party, most revellers will wake up refreshed, happy and ready to go again.  However it is guaranteed that someone will wake up the next morning to find themselves in bed with Alice.  The more unlucky one will wake up with both Ted and Alice – if not Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice.  (They don’t call that last drink you shouldn’t have had ‘Aftershock’ for nothing).  Until approximately 24 July of the following year, this unlucky guy or gal will be the shamefaced butt of every office joke and some amusing washroom graffiti.  Don’t let this happen to you.

Black Friday : Black Friday is a term given to the last Friday before Christmas itself, as the town centre will be slightly busier than usual with folks on their way to religious services, classical music events and to help the poor.  Some of these good folks will stop off for the odd glass of Babycham or two.  There will be a small majority who go completely crazy, which is good as it keeps the police in employment.  After a few genteel sips of eggnog, these over-refreshed people greet each other in the streets with warm words of encouragement and some very forceful hugs – it truly is a sight to behold! From a safe distance.

The Family Gathering

A family gathering is a pleasant, quiet time to spend with your loved ones. (Like heck.)

So, you’ve decided to avoid all the above hassle, and just stay home.  Next thing you know, the outlaws have invited themselves to stay with you for a week, and the kids have a stomach virus.  The spouse has volunteered to cook the traditional roast dinner for about 15 people.  This actually means that you will be peeling sprouts (which you hate), potatoes and neeps for 3 hours.  You will have failed in your parental responsibility by not securing this year’s must-have present and the kids will hate you for years.  If you bought your partner the gift they spelled out for you that they wanted,  one of two things is certain –  you didn’t get the right colour, or they don’t want it any more.  Either way, you will be rewarded with a nice pair of socks, white underwear suitable for an octogenarian or worse yet – the Christmas sweater.  It is covered with bells, pompoms, reindeer and the like in colours intended to help rescue services find you if you get washed out to sea.  Who makes these things?  Who buys them?  Who would actually wear them?  Well, you will – or you’re in trouble.

The meal is over – you’ve survived that.  There was only one thing you wanted to see on the telly – and it’s almost time.  But grandpa is in your spot on your sofa, and Grandma is asking what channel the Coronation Street 200th year anniversary show is on.   You have no chance.

A fight will eventually ensue.  Best just to admit you are wrong, apologise, and have another swig of sherry.  Next year you promise yourself a warm beach holiday.  Like you did this year.

A serious note:  This time of year leads to depression and suicide for some people.  If you’re feeling down – do let someone know.  Talk to someone.  And remember, just because the media and retailers tell you everyone is having a fantastic time, it’s just not so.  Don’t feel obliged to do anything you don’t want to do (ever).  Take care of yourselves – it’s a holiday out there!