So you have drawn the shortest of short straws. After wolfing down a traditional turkey dinner you’re wrenched from the bosom of your family.
As all your nearest and dearest settle down to watch The Great Escape with a stiff drink and a giant tin of Quality Street, you, with a full belly and a heavy heart, head for the office.
Things really don’t get much worse than the graveyard shift on Christmas Day.
The festive spirit that permeated the office in the run up to 25 December has long-since ebbed away, leaving a handful of disgruntled journalists who’d rather be anywhere else than stuck staring at a computer screen.
Most newspapers have just one edition going out on Christmas Day and by the time the night shift arrives most of the content is done – tales of miracle Christmas babies called Holly or Noel, and some elderly lady called Elizabeth and her family at church in Norfolk.
When it comes to breaking news the night shift has just two gears – relatively slow or manically busy. The likelihood of the latter on Christmas Day is very slim, but it does happen: news of the tsunami tragedy began filtering in during the very early hours of Boxing Day, making the front page of most newspapers on 26 December 2004.
The seemingly never-ending evening will be punctuated by pointless phone calls from drunk people with ‘World Exclusive’stories about spacecraft in Filey or with a bee in their bonnet about the number of repeats on TV, all of which would fail to make page 83 of a weekly local freesheet. However, these people are to be endured in the spirit of peace on Earth and goodwill to all men.
The absolute key to getting through Christmas shift has to be food. You can’t drink (much) but by God you can, and must, eat heartily.
First and foremost come into work well prepared. There won’t be a single shop open so make sure you bring whatever you need to get you through the night – be it a sack of snacks, an intravenous coffee drip, or 20 Marlborough Lights.
Without such supplies the best you can hope for is a glass of warm, flat Cava and a stray and battered mince pie left over by the newsdesk’s day shift. Having said that, it is always worth having a quick scout around the features desk as they always seem to stock up on a higher class of fodder – Tesco Finest nibbles, Marks and Spencer chips and dips – the opportunities are endless for the eagle-eyed.
The final thing to remember is leave your grumpy Scrooge face at the door on the way in – nobody wants to work at Christmas, so just make the best of it.
Besides, you get to miss the family squabbles about the mountain of washing up, the customary game of charades and, hey, how many times do you want to watch The Man with the Golden Gun?
And, on the really bright side, it’s probably going to be the easiest journey to and from work you’ve made all year.