Sunday, 18 May 2008

Work is the Curse of the Drinking Classes

At least my work is. I made a very flippant comment in a previous blog post about my new job, and expense account lunches. I'm not important enough to have a company credit card, a company car, a company mobile or a company Blackberry.

And I thank god for all of those small mercies.

I can understand that if you're new to a job, then these little things would be a sort of status symbol, some kind of proof that you deserve to be taken seriously. When you've been doing a similar sort of job for a while, like me, you know that you don't need these to be taken seriously. Actually, what you know is that no one takes you seriously anyway, most of the time you're spitting into the wind, even more of the time you couldn't care less, and even if you did want to be taken seriously, you know that shouting and/or random acts of violence are the only way to go.

However, in the pecking order of our office, the one where I sit slightly above cleaner, but with less popularity than the trolley lady, I do get invited out to lunch. Quite a bit. In fact, twice this week coming. It sounds great, doesn't it?


Er, actually, no. You see, it's all right going out to lunch, but it's all the other stuff that goes with it that bothers me. For a start, I have to try and look business like, which is no mean feat. This means I have to dust off a suit, make sure I've got decent shoes on, and make sure that I haven't got toothpaste on my face. I even (horror of horrors) have to put a bit of make-up on, to let people know that a/ I'm a woman and b/ I'm only half as ghastly as I could have been. I also then have to sit in a meeting, looking both thoughtful and attentive, nodding my head at relevant moments, putting my finger to my chin and going 'Hmm' and 'Mmm mmm' as and when I feel some sort of business response is required.

And don't even get me started on the meal business. That's a minefield all of it's own. A quick glance at the menu, then a longer glance at what I'm wearing. If my clothes are black, nothing with a cream sauce. If they're white, nothing with a tomato sauce. NEVER, EVER, spaghetti. Nothing that requires twirling round a fork. Nothing with bones in, that might inadvertently get stuck in my throat, and lead to a paroxysm of coughing which results in fish hitting my guest opposite in the eye at a rate somewhat approaching the speed of sound. Nothing that I think I'll like, only to remember when it's in my mouth that I don't, and then makes me gag. Nothing that will fetch a filling out. Nothing that I'll get on my face, and only notice on the train journey home. And most importantly of all, NOT THE MEAL THAT IS MOST EXPENSIVE.

This is quite an art. You have to look at the menu, look at your fellow guests, and then try to anticipate what everyone will have. No good opting for a sandwich, if everyone else is going to tuck into a steak. Even worse to order the highly expensive, but beautifully presented, sea bass if your fellow diners are just having a quick Caesar salad.

And the worst sin of all; don't have too much to drink.

Don't get me wrong; I like a drink as much as the next woman, particularly if the next woman is Amy Winehouse when she's having a break from the crack with something a bit lighter on the possible custodial sentencing. But drinking at lunchtimes is something I do not do well at all. One glass of wine has me bright red in the face, two sees me a little more giggly than usual, three might have me discussing sexual positions and four will see me sliding off my chair. But it's almost the done thing to have something to be sociable, so I'll have to try and get used to it.

Wish me luck, won't you?

And can you really get your leg right up there? Let me see if I can...


david mcmahon said...

Wonderful work - and all this time I thought blackberries were edible!

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Great post Tina!
I've been reading some of your posts and have been choking into my bag of chive and onion Ruffles!
You are very funny!

Lola said...

Is the food worth it? I hope it's the Birmingham equivalent of the Ivy that you get taken to. Raymond Blanc's place in Brindley Place is quite good...

I don't really remember the concept of 'going to work', let alone having to dress up or wear make up. I worked for the public sector and charities so we never got taken out to lunch for more than a sandwich. Pah!

R&J said...

Wow. I have to translate it that my friends can read it...

aims said...

Perhaps a whispered 'virgin ceasar please' to the waiter might keep you looking pale faced and with it.

On the other hand - when everyone else has subsided into having fun you don't want to be left out and holding the tab.

You're right. It's a quagmire. Better you than me darling. And I'm sure you are far better at it than I'll ever be. :0)

duckrazzle said...

A bulletin board-type site to talk about bloggers!

It’s brand new – get it going the way you would like to see it! New topics at will, and forums by request are yours for the asking.

Blogs are a wonderful way for the blogger to express his or her viewpoint…but they don’t allow much feedback if you happen to disagree, or if you really agree and want to amplify on it. provides a clean slate for you to vent…praise…flame…whatever.

San said...

Fabulous fun post. David sent me over. You're my co-winner for Post of the Day today and I was dying of curiosity. So glad I stopped by.

And yes, good luck with the positions. I mean the meeting. :-D

Sandi McBride said...

Ah to have a job, I'm quite happy with my retirement status I believe! I don't know if I could compete if I had to go out to eat instead of eating in my car lol! Glad David sent me round...congratulations on Post of the Day

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Very deserving post of the day - one of your best if you don't mind me saying.

Yup, remember business lunches well and they soon morphed into beakfast meetings where you looked like a dog as your face was still in sleep mode. Very fetching as you stuff croissants down yer neck and spill coffee down your front!

Momma said...

I am with you on the lunch thing. I never know quite what to order. And wine? Can't do it. Most of the places I've worked frown on alcohol with lunch. But one day I found myself out to lunch, alone, drinking vodka on the rocks.

I knew then that it was time for another job. Oy!

Peace - David sent me - D

indicaspecies said...

Interesting and fun post. Congratulations on POTD. Well deserved. :)

Tina said...

David, I could count them as 1 of my 5 a day!

The Brit - don't ever choke on crisps, they are things of beauty! Welcome.

Lola - ah I wish it were that fancy...

R&J, welcome! Good luck with the translating, I'm not even sure if what I write is English sometimes.

Aims, it's coming with practice. Good to see you my little award nominee babe.

Duckrazzle, am I flaming? Goodness me, I thought it was the early menopause...

MOB, I shudder at the thought of breakfast meetings too!

San, Sandi, Momma, Indicaspecies, welcome to all of you. I I knew you were coming I'd have dusted... Shall be round to check on all of you.

Heath said...

Ah...the monday-morning blues related topic ;) people just work to make ends meet and lead a good life...but people who really enjoy their work are the ones that have reached great heights.

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