Being the kind of writer who doesn’t sell enough books or writing to cover the bills, I find myself forced to take on regular work in order to stay afloat. Sometimes I’m fortunate enough to find work that utilizes my literary and / or academic skills, but not always. Sometimes, I find myself juggling multiple posts, because, well, needs must.
One feature of office work around this time of year is the inaugural Christmas party. More often than not, that’s parties, with departmental nights out, team nights out, and any half-arsed excuse for people to hit the boozer at lunchtime or immediately after knocking off early.
I’ve always avoided these events like the plague. I have attended one or two during the course of my working life, and have usually felt compelled to make my excuses and leave just as things are warming up, i.e. before someone punches me in the face, makes a serious tit of themselves, gets us kicked out or pukes over their – or my – shoes. As a consequence, the worst I’ve had to endure on my return to work is mild abuse for being a killjoy or a lightweight, and while I’m most certainly no lightweight (I simply happen to know my limit and stick to it rather than letting things get out of hand), I guess I’m happy to wear the ‘killjoy’ hat if by ‘killjoy’ it’s meant ‘person who gets out before it gets too crazy’. In fact, leaving the rest of them to have their fun at whatever cost to themselves rather than nagging them not to behave like imbeciles is surely the opposite of killjoyism, but I digress.
So it was that on Friday I found myself on the bus back into town in the company of a friend of mine and some of his colleagues. They were going out for a meal, but before that, some drinks. It was 4pm. I, on the other hand, was going to pick up some milk, go home, cook for my family and get down to some writing and various other pressing things.
Disembarking, we parted ways and bid one another farewell, and I was momentarily resentful of my fiend’s active social life and the fact he has connections with enough social and work-related groupings to see him out doing Christmas-related socialising at least two nights a week throughout the whole month of December, in contrast to me, who declined the one crappy offer I did get, because, well, it would have been hell. So what’s my problem? Well, for starters, just because I don’t want to spend insane amounts of cash on crap nights out in loud bars in the company of tossers who can’t handle their drink or their emotions, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to participate in the faux revelry and put-on camaraderie – but I would like to socialise with the people I likie in places I like. The trouble is, all of my friends are busy, for the most part spending insane amounts of cash on crap nights out in loud bars in the company of tossers who can’t handle their drink or their emotions. So, if you can’t beat ‘em… No, fuck it, even if I was invited, I wouldn’t join ‘em. So call me bitter and awkward if you like and see if I care.
As I carved my way through the crowded city centre, packed with Christmas-shopping tourists, gaggles of students not long out of school or college, and early doors workers descending on the hostelries and eateries to begin their merrymaking, I felt the tension rising within me. I could barely move it was so crowded, and while I’m no agoraphobe, I do find crowded places – other than gigs – stressful environments.
It didn’t take long to dawn on me that while I enjoy socialising and would broadly jump at the opportunity to sample the range of seasonal ales on offer, I can only enjoy myself in the right environment and in the right company. Works nights out invariably mean being pressed into close proximity with the crets you work with and despise all day every day: why the hell would anyone want to prolong the experience? Add to that the fact the setting are always lowest-common-denominator mass-market pubs and chain restaurants that offer group discounts on cheap and cheerful (microwaved) food, and my resentment of my friend dissipated rapidly.
It wouldn’t be me with a raging hangover and gaping hole in my finances the following morning, even if he did succeed in avoiding any of the kind of embarrassing situations that would see him all over Facebook and publicly humiliated by half the globe before he’d even woken up, and subsequently derided mercilessly for the next three months by all and sundry. Yeah, I’m happy to stay in, sup a few bottles of homebrew and enjoy a quieter night in. The pubs can wait until January, when I can go and sit on my own with a pint and read a book in peace. Ahh… cheers!
Above: some people having a blast at a Christmas meal. Don’t you wish you were them? Image courtesy of the Internet.
And if you’ve loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk