The office Christmas party. My one chance to get to know the team. I knew Hugh and Rob of course, but the others were often just email correspondents or voices on Skype. Not pictures. I always keep the camera turned off.
An interesting rotating group. Multicultural. With origins from China to Greece, from India to the United States, the majority have been male and under 45. Judging from the applicants whenever we have advertised a job, this is par for the course in IT. In our experience, those who buck the trend have been excellent.
The first Christmas party was given by us. Turkey and Christmas pud a long way from London. Concern over cultural issues relating to food proved justified. Natives of Hertfordshire do not, apparently, touch fruit or vegetables. After that, as the business prospered, a move was made to London. With advancing years, we no longer go. We retain some great memories.
One evening, celebrating the Christmas conclusion of a successful project, started in the Champagne Bar on St. Pancras station. Later, at dinner, I found myself sitting next to – let us call him – Baz. Charming and friendly, Baz was also a man of expensive tastes. In fact, expensive altogether. The headhunters who produced him probably operated full time from the St. Pancras champagne bar. But then, Baz had a First.
I asked him how he liked the CCQ “no office” system. Working from home. Excellent, he said. It enabled him to enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle. And his duvet made an excellent desk.
Hugh and Rob had generously arranged for everyone who so wished to be served a half lobster. Baz finished his then caught the eye of the waiter. He requested the other half.
My other neighbour and I compared British and Chinese educational systems. Baz joined in. He confessed that he had never enjoyed the works of Jane Austen. Which had he tried, I asked this distinguished young academic.
“Jane Eyre,” he replied.
“Ah, you mean Charlotte Bronte?” I queried.
“Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte are the same person,” he replied with confidence. “One is the nom de plume of the other.”
A sensitive young man, he noticed my puzzled expression. He was soon busy with his mobile phone beneath the table. Eventually he emerged, frustrated. Even Google had let him down.
They say you have to be single-minded to get a First.