Notes from down table

Exposure to the non-editorial workforce makes Christmas even worse

Sometimes I think that I inhabit a different planet to many of my co-workers or, rather, that they live on a different planet to me. Since we have been ‘managed’ by the Invisible Man from a concrete shack 30 miles down the road, there has been something of a power vacuum at the Evening Beast. In terms of bossing the business, there’s only me and an ineffectual advertising manager who spends more time combing his hair than inspiring the troops.

Now in the old days of Machiavellian office politics, I would have exploited this situation to build myself a nice comfortable personal fiefdom. Sadly, these days there’s very little left to ‘fief’. Any significant decisions are taken far away from our little empire and, to be honest, we just get on and implement them in the least painful way possible.

However, my perceived seniority means that I have somehow become the figurehead, and that means that I’m exposed to rather more of the non-editorial workforce than I’d wish as they queue up to unload their problems on me. And, frankly, they’re doing my head in.

Take last week’s spell of cold weather. A little bit of frost and ice and the advertising department freezes in fear. You can hear them aimlessly chatting in front of their tinsel-draped monitors, clad in novelty scarves and Ugg boots. Oh, and fingerless mittens. Don’t forget the fingerless fucking mittens.

“Do you think we’ll be able to go home early?” “I wonder if Sainsbury’s will stay open?” “Look, it’s minus six in Newcastle.” Well it might be minus six in Newcastle, love, but we’re 200 miles south of there. There’s a bit of frost on your lawn and a solitary council gritter drove past last night. Live with it. And please don’t use it as an excuse to wander into work mid-morning.

“I’m sorry I’m late. It took me 20 minutes to de-ice the car.” Well hang on. A bit of frost was hardly a surprise. It was all over the TV weather forecast last night and you’d spent half yesterday afternoon talking about it. Why not get your fat arse out of bed half an hour earlier to do a bit of frost-scraping?

Maybe it’s just me. I’m not a great fan of this time of year: the false bonhomie; the miserable buffet in the miserable ring road hotel, to which the company has contributed a miserable £6.50 a head; the morally-enforced exchange of cards with people you hardly know and don’t care about.

At least this year we’re spared the pointless exercise of Boxing Day publishing. I’ve railed against this stupidity for years. Who the fuck wants to read a local newspaper on Boxing Day? The shops aren’t open so the only customers are those who still have a home-delivered copy. I can just imagine their delight as the letterbox flaps just as they’re tucking into Nigella’s ham in Coca Cola while watching Muppet Treasure Island. “Oh, look, the Evening Beast. All 32 pages of it just bursting with a couple of Christmas Day baby pictures and a bottom drawer full of cobweb-encrusted news.”

Bah humbug, and a Merry Christmas to one and all!

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