I went with the conscious decision not to get too drunk, if at all. I still had memories of my first ever Christmas work party when I drank an entire bottle of red wine to myself, was uncomplimentary about the food (prepared by the MD’s wife) and insulted the Director of Finance by calling him an old fogey. I don’t remember coming home but the awfulness of my first Monday back can still bring me out in a hot sweat.
So, Charlie and I arrived just as Malcolm the DJ was revving up with some Motown. Hospital work do’s follow a set pattern – consultants stick with consultants, nurses congregate with nurses, porters gaggle together and admin staff, well, admin staff sit simmering in a corner, positively thrumming with energy. We know everything there is to know about hospital gossip/folklore/infamy. We are courted at the Christmas party. If you want your PA to go to the canteen every lunchtime for you for the rest of the year you buy her several drinks and talk loudly about how fantastic she is. If you want to have the best run clinic in the hospital, you’re very complimentary about your receptionists and appointment clerks and send a couple of bottles of wine over to their table and even deign to take them a sausage roll or two.
But not this year. The credit crunch dictated that the only food on offer were peanuts, all of the drinks had gone up at least a quid and plastic glasses replaced the usual receptacles. Still, the mish mash of decorations looked good.
Charlie was drawn, like a moth to a flame, to the handsome Plastic Surgeon from Mehico - they were both on the tequila not fifteen minutes after we arrived. I mention this purely because of an email received from Samantha, his PA.
“I know she’s your friend and everything but you could have told her that I was planning to crack on to Juan – she did everything bar suck his lime for him”
Yes, I had to read that twice.
My manager, a lovely woman given to the occasional cackle and the odd swear word, was on top form and only left the dance floor to request tracks from a beleaguered Malcolm. He’d spent the morning bragging to me about how good he was with his decks but, quite frankly, I don’t think he was up to the job. He looked quite relieved when John from Transport took over with the karaoke hour (that lasted an hour and a half). Classics included myself singing Mercy, the Director of Surgery singing “I am the one and only”, a group of canteen staff doing an Abba medley and Bill from Security bringing the house down with “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”. Literally. His booming voice reverberated through the room, shaking the foundations and loosening the fairy from the top of the tree.
Karen emailed me with “Who was that leggy Scouse redhead who thought she was Beyonce? I’ve asked everyone (I managed to get a picture of her on my phone) but no-one knows her or who she came with? Let me know as soon as you can, if not I’ll speak to Jackie in HR.”
We hate it when we someone manages to slip through our net.
The speeches were mercifully short. The Director of Surgery (looking very uncomfortable in his sparkling Santa hat) thanked us all for our hard work this year. He received a bit of heckling from the porters – as Fred said in his email to me “he barely acknowledges us during the year – unless it’s to carry his bags or park his car. He bought us a couple of jugs of beer, called me Phil and congratulated us on our trolley pushing.”. He’s not a bad bloke but his forgetfulness and tactlessness is legendary. He once, in a staff meeting, wished all of our nurses a very merry Christmas and a restful Christmas Day. All of the nurses present were working on the day itself and were more likely to see Santa coming down the chimney.
I didn’t drink that much (a couple of vodkas that I reckon I danced off) whereas Charlie got involved in a very loud and drunken argument with Juan. “I work for a top London hospital, with top consultants!” Charlie said sniffily as she missed her mouth and tipped tequila over her left shoulder. “What ees better? A consoooltant working at a top London ‘ospital or a consooltant working at a teaching ‘ospital?” Juan countered as he poured her another drink. Charlie couldn’t answer that one as she was distracted buy Emma from HR skidding on the spilt tequila and crashing into end of the bar and dislodging a motheaten stocking.
As Emma said herself “all the drink I’d tipped down my neck and it was a spilt one that made me fall arse over tit!!”
My skirt (pictures to follow once I get them developed: I didn’t take my digital camera as I “lost” the last but one one at a similar do) went down particularly well with the porters and transport boys. Although, as Janice was heard to mutter, “that lot’d wolf whistle at a woman in a body bag if they thought they were in with half a chance”. Janice, it has to be said, tries very hard to be the Office Vamp but, as Johnny the Male Nurse insists, is more like the Office Tramp. She was wearing six inches of makeup on her face and what appeared to be a crocheted dress that, as the evening wore on and the place got hotter, seemed to head south. The transport boys were taking bets as to what would fall off first: her dress or her makeup.
Thankfully, the night was over before either bet was won.