petite anglaise

December 22, 2005


Filed under: working girl — petiteanglaiseparis @ 1:05 pm

As we left the office to take the métro to the Marais location of our annual office Christmas lunch, the bombshell was dropped that some, if not all, staff would be expected to return to the office afterwards. Yours truly numbered among the unfortunate few, as the boss had some work he needed to finish off and made it clear that my services would be required. Inwardly fuming, I resolved to ensure that sufficient alcohol was consumed to render my presence entirely futile. It being lunchtime, the quantities required need not be vast.

First up, a champagne apéro had been laid on, to encourage us to mingle with the guests from our London office. The serveur on duty filled our glasses and then busied himself cruising around the vaulted rooms of the wine cellar where the festivities were being held, bearing a tray of appetisers. My glass soon empty, I waited five minutes before discreetly catching his eye and enquiring whether the remaining bottles of champagne in the cooler were “for decorative purposes only”. My comment was greeted with a raised eyebrow, but did ultimately have the desired effect: corks were duly popped, and for the duration of the apéro I was gratified to see that my glass was filled twice as often as everyone else’s.

Swaying slightly, I was well on the way to achieving my goal, and we hadn’t yet moved to take our seats at the Christmas cracker strewn tables. In accordance with long standing company tradition, the senior partner’s wife provides luxury crackers each year for our Christmas “do”. This year’s vintage looked particularly elegant, tied with irridescent ribbons, and, upon closer inspection, with promisingly weighty contents.

Unfortunately, throughout our meal of cream of chestnut soup with a garnish of sot-l’y-laisse (which I’m reliably informed is the part of a chicken known as the “oyster”, the best bit, hence you would be a fool to leave it) and duck leg stuffed with cèpe mushrooms, the waiters served only one glass of wine with each course, taking the bottle away with them each time. After an auspicious start, I was now beginning to feel worryingly sober.

Suddenly there was a volley of popping noises from the neighbouring table, headed up by my boss, as crackers were pulled. A shocked silence instantly fell over the rest of the room, and I put my hand to my mouth in horror.

It is an unwritten rule in our office that crackers may not be pulled until the senior partner and his wife have given us all the cue, by pulling theirs. My boss, not a great fan of tradition, had just committed an unforgiveable faux pas, probably on purpose.

I swivelled around in my chair to monitor the reaction of the senior partner, whose face was, predictably, stormy. Not a word of rebuke was uttered, but the tension in the air was palpable.

In an attempt to diffuse the frosty atmosphere, our IT technician went to put on the party CD which he had created, made up of tracks requested by various members of staff. But even with Bruce Hornsby and the Range coming to our rescue, it was touch and go as to whether our good spirits could be restored.

And one had to wonder whether the French secretary who chose Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” was aware that the lyrics constitute a hymn to fellatio?

At 5pm, feeling replete, sleepy and just a little tipsy, I staggered back to the office, while my colleagues headed for a local bar.

Naturally, I was called upon to do no work whatsoever.


  1. How do have a posh Christmas Meal with ‘Relax’ barnstorming around in the background and not at least try and sing along?

    My Christmas meal has been postponed to January due to ‘everyone being far too busy’.

    I ask you….

    Comment by greavsie — December 22, 2005 @ 1:44 pm

  2. I think it should be some sort of an international law (or at least EU legislation) that nobody has to go to work the entire week before Christmas, because no one gets any work done anyway.

    Comment by Curiosa — December 22, 2005 @ 3:03 pm

  3. My gift was a really pretty candle, and other included an electronic keyring calculator and a mini radio walkman. Not bad, eh?

    Comment by petite — December 22, 2005 @ 3:09 pm

  4. Nice to know you have your english colleagues to take care of the christmas celebrations… Christmas doesn’t exist in our office, no christmas meal, not a single mince pie to be seen – how miserable is that!
    AND we don’t get any days off over christmas or the new year
    Thank your lucky stars you’re well looked after – it could be worse!
    Merry christmas and happy new year 2006!!!
    I’m off to pull a few crackers alone….boo hoo!

    Comment by seworb — December 22, 2005 @ 3:42 pm

  5. Jesus, I had never paid attention to the lyrics to Relax before. Whoa!

    Comment by srah — December 22, 2005 @ 3:52 pm

  6. seworb: Think yourself lucky – I don’t even have an office. I just get lashed on my own and put out inferior “product”. Then I get really depressed because nobody notices. Ever.

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — December 22, 2005 @ 4:23 pm

  7. Oh, the joys of the trade…funny thing is, I produce superior ‘product’ when tiddly or even fairly clobbered, probably cos was usual
    state when in England, and the better it is, the more often non-native speaking clients (see? Didn’t even mention the French!) complain and criticise my grammar cos “we did not learn it like zat at school” or worse, “it’s not in my pocket dictionary”. Grrrr.
    Pass the bubbly someone. And a huge mincepie would go down nicely as well.
    By the way, Petite, where do you find your jars of mincemeat? In Paris??

    Merry Christmas everyone!

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — December 22, 2005 @ 5:11 pm

  8. I remember one occasion when I returned to the office after a bibulous Christmas lunch to finish a report I’d very nearly completed. Next day I checked it over before printing it, and everything I’d added the previous day looked as though it had been encrypted. It’s not simply that my normally crap typing hadn’t been pursued by my usual weary corrections. The actual content was gibberish. Never again….

    Comment by Rob — December 22, 2005 @ 7:15 pm

  9. I learn something new every day… I had no idea all those times I was dancing to “Relax” in the 80’s, I was dancing to THAT! But then again I also didn’t know “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was an homage to LSD, until about 2 years ago. Sign me, “Clueless Music Lover”

    Comment by The Bold Soul — December 23, 2005 @ 12:15 am

  10. I’m not surprised things didn’t get any better, seeing as you had to listen to Bruce Hornby and The Range.

    Hope the rest of your Christmas is better!

    Comment by stressqueen — December 23, 2005 @ 2:30 am

  11. Merry Christmas Petite! Love your blog. I’m sorry that your Christmas luncheon was so lame this year. At least your company was taken out to a nice lunch even if the powers that be were incredibly grumpy. At my employer, an e-mail was sent out to the employees notifying them of an “open house” in our onsite library. I ignored the open house invitation thinking it sounded boring only to learn that it was the actual holiday party. Apparently, my employer objects to the term “holiday party” because it is too offensive to those who don’t celebrate Christmas or Hannukah. I think we really need to loosen up in the States over this “holiday” stuff.

    Comment by Megan — December 23, 2005 @ 2:41 am

  12. That’s just the way it is, baby. Some things will never change. ;-)

    (Joyeux Noel from Hangzhou BTW.)

    Comment by mike — December 23, 2005 @ 6:40 am

  13. Did the bosses wife make up suitably crap jokes to go in the crackers?

    Comment by US — December 23, 2005 @ 7:49 am

  14. Yet another message of goodwill for you Petite, Merry Christmas, have an interesting New Year =)

    Comment by Neptune, God of the Seas — December 23, 2005 @ 11:32 am

  15. It all sounds like an episode from ‘The Office’

    Merry Christmas Tadpole & Petite

    Comment by Claire — December 23, 2005 @ 6:57 pm

  16. Funny…I wish that I could get out of work that easily. I would be drunk every day ;-). Happy holidays to you and your fam.

    Comment by H. (aka NC_State_gal) — December 23, 2005 @ 8:20 pm

  17. Bold soul- “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” – my mum used to sing that to me as a lullaby! Explains a lot really…

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — December 23, 2005 @ 10:28 pm

  18. Mery Chirstmas pa …. It’s of course a snowing white one here …


    Comment by Alaska — December 23, 2005 @ 11:02 pm

  19. Joyeux Noel!

    Comment by Belle — December 24, 2005 @ 1:14 pm

  20. Just wanted to wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas!

    Comment by Katherine — December 24, 2005 @ 3:01 pm

  21. What a funny post! I love it!

    Comment by Medina — December 27, 2005 @ 6:38 am

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