Despite the Evening Beast management deciding that our traditional Christmas piss-up should be replaced by a £12.50 Argos voucher apiece, a few hardy souls decide to battle on and organise their own do.
I don’t want to go, but, in a mood of displaced loyalty, sadly scrawl my name on the list on the noticeboard.
If I tell you that we’re off to a Greek restaurant at £9 a head, then you’ll get a feel for the quality of the occasion. Those of us in the know have leaned on a few department heads and come up with some expenses to buy a couple of bottles of wine per table, but, to be honest, a 2006 Chateau Peloponnesos was never going to cut the mustard.
Still, it does the trick for one of our work-experience kids (the newsroom is full of them at Christmas because they’re cheap, eager and stupid). He’s full of spunk and brio; he’s out with the hard-drinking hacks he’s always read about; this is his moment, his time in the sun. So he bashes into the Ionian plonk with inevitable consequences.
You see, he knows one thing about Greek restaurants – that there’s always a plate-smashing ceremony. So, once in his cups, he decides to start smashing plates. What he doesn’t realise is that there are special earthenware ‘smashing plates”, wheeled out by the waiters later on.
Instead he starts chucking around the everyday china, upon which his stifado has just been served. The consequences are dire. Razor-sharp shards of porcelain fly around the table and our young friend is the first victim.
Off he goes to casualty for half a dozen stitches over one eye; the owner, a Mr Keffalosolopulus, pops out of the kitchen to collect a hastily assembled ‘sweetener”, and I’m left pondering the perpetual puzzle of how a usually plain copytaker can scrub up so well that by midnight she looks like a particularly accommodating Kylie Minogue. We’ll leave it there.
I’m not sure how much more Mail on Sunday readers can take of the whining, self-pitying Liz-fucking-Jones.
A couple of weeks ago they had to endure the terrible tale of how she’d been caught in the credit crunch. It’s a shame, because the column started with such promise: ‘Early next year, my body will be taken to a hillside, my broken bones to be pecked clean by vultures.’Yes, wellâ€¦
Unfortunately, it then descended into a whine about how her London house had ‘made me £500,000 in 18 months, but these ‘profits’, for normal people like you and me, are merely relative, unless we don’t buy another house and merely move into a (privately owned, local authority financed) hostel. How did I end up in my sordid cul-de-sac?”.
Yes, I’m sure that chimes with the average Mail on Sunday reader, struggling to meet their rapidly increasing mortgage repayments.
Then last week we were treated to another trip around her redundant reproductive organs, with the admission that she’d once gone through all the necessary tests to allow her to adopt ‘a brahn baby'(my quotes, courtesy of Waynetta Slob).
It appears that she even considered adopting a child with special needs: ‘Yes! I shouted, imagining myself with a tot in tiny callipers.”
The mind boggles. I suppose we should be grateful that Liz is now ensconced on Exmoor with two recovering horses and is no longer menacing the adoption agencies of the Indian sub-continent.
Of course, Liz isn’t the only hack who isn’t adverse to parading her children, imaginary or real, across a profitable 1,000-worder in the Daily Mail. Enter stage left (sadly, not pursued by a bear) Ms Lauren Booth, a woman who has never been backward when it comes to trading on family connections.
Her reader fodder is daughters Holly (4) and Alexandra (7), who apparently are Jamie Oliver devotees to the point that they are ‘nouveau food fascists”. Indeed, they munch on carrot sticks, spurn ready meals and tut if the balsamic vinegar derives from the cheap end of Modena.
And, worse than that: ‘My two squeal if served Camembert cheese that hasn’t been warmed through first.’Let’s just read that again: ‘My two squeal if served Camembert cheese that hasn’t been warmed through first.’That’s Holly (4) and Alexandra (7).
Pretentious? I wonder where they get it from.
A number of readers have been in touch to ask why I haven’t used the letter addressed to me by Patsy Chapman, ridiculing David Montgomery’s lunatic views on dispensing with subs, that is doing the rounds of newspaper offices and even pitched up on Professor Greenslade’s Guardian blog.
It’s quite simple, really. She forgot to send it to me. Doh! (Insert own joke about women of a certain age here.)
And if you wanted proof that Rommel was horribly wrong, you need look no further than this very column of last week, wherein I took the piss out of The Sun’s reader offer of a Christmas card featuring its star columnists posing in a nativity scene.
As one of the newspaper’s execs subsequently wrote: ‘May I suggest that a good sub would have spotted that it is Fergus Shanahan and Lorraine Kelly with baby Jesus on our nativity card? Dear Deidre is in the background with Jon Gaunt. And it’s Sanders not Saunders. But, hey, who cares about things like that?”
TouchÃ©. And Merry cocking Christmas.
You can contact me, should you be minded, at firstname.lastname@example.org