Maybe I’ve just had bad luck with them, but it seems that Christmas parties are like first-time sex with someone new. High on expectation and hype, and low on actual sizzle factor.
Too many Richard Curtis films have me believing (despite many disappointments) that these festive parties will be classy affairs, overflowing with good champagne and bad men. You know, filthy bosses who you can’t help fancying, along with the odd morsel of smoked salmon, everyone looking sultry in black tie, the lights twinkling away, somewhere like the Ritz.
No wonder I’m disappointed. As my bank is now answerable to a few taxpayers across the pond, any subsidised shindig is out of the question. Instead there is talk of some furtive celebrations in a pub in the Docklands - the kind with deep fried chicken wings on the menu. There’ll be tepid wine and tired vol-au-vents, all for about a tenner a head.
Dresses will be lycra and a size too small, and shirts will be shiny and gaping at the waist. There may even be karaoke if we can stump up another fiver. The festivities will start at 5pm. In true British style, no one is that fussed about the food - other than as a temporary sponge to soak up the booze. Conversation will move from stilted to smutty by about seven o’clock. And I don’t mean smutty in a good way. More like frustrated marrieds let off the leash for the night and desperate to make the most of it.
Maybe it should be encouraging that romance of any sort can actually flourish in this environment. They say love can bloom anywhere, and I suppose if those people entwined in the alleyway by the bins are anything to go by, that would be correct.
By the time the revellers stagger out at midnight, heading for some mythical club, girls will be walking barefoot in the street, clutching their shoes, men will be shouting and squaring up for a therapeutic punch up. And as dawn breaks, someone in Compliance will be drafting an admonishing email about 'corporate responsibility' and not 'besmirching the reputation of the bank'.
Does anyone have the sort of parties with dashing men at the Ritz? With champagne and caviar and the spontaneous taking of a hotel suite to satisfy a flirtation that’s been simmering away all year across the office? Please tell me they do - that way I can at least take heart that somewhere across the city, life is as it should be.