Office party season with One Direction, Barack Obama, Rihanna and the Queen

Posted: December 2, 2012 in life
Tags: , , , , , , ,


There’s a flurry of activity in the ladies’ loos, a choppy sea of elbows and highlights. The air is pink with dry shampoo and the smell of lip gloss, and the mirror appears fogged. There is little talk, apart from the occasional squeal and questioning grumbles of the women standing back against the toilet doors to try and get a full-length. “Is it not too tarty?” they say, shouting into a wind of “No”s. It’s the 2012 office Christmas party, and the excitement is palpable. You can taste it on your tongue.


At 6pm the buffet was ripe and gleaming. By 7.30 the sausage rolls look like a graveyard. The Queen is picking at a paper plate of Pret quarter-sandwiches with a pained look on her face. “Honestly,” she mutters under her breath as she pries a piece of smoked salmon from its bread and shuffles it into her mouth. She looks at her watch – cab’s coming in half an hour, which means half an hour of conversation about hats and trying to remember colleagues’ names. She can’t wait to settle into the leathery embrace of a taxi and discard these civilians, discard the bright smile she must clip to her lip. She agreed to a Jubilee year of press, a Jubilee year of “taking part” and “making Britain great again”. Thirty more minutes, and then she’s done. No more. She’s out.


She sneaks down the stairs and through the revolving doors and rain, ignoring the star of Eton College‘s Gangnam video and Rihanna, who are sheltering by the smoking wall. Eton has rolled up his shirt sleeves to show Rihanna his tattoos. “I got this trad tribal bicep belt done in Thailand,” he says deeply, holding eye contact with himself in the glossy lake of her sunglasses. “And this one? It says LOL in Aramaic. Pure bants.”


Rihanna, silently, starts massaging baby oil into her legs. “Let me know if you need any intros while you’re in London,” Eton says, shifting his pose so he looks more “street”. “Anyone you want. Any of my boys. The Arch Bish? Dave? Boris? You’d like him – he’s proper hashtag lad.” Rihanna takes a photo of her oiled legs and scrolls through the Twitter responses. “Classic,” says Eton, stretching the word out over almost a minute.


Inside, a scrum of giggling women has formed by the whiteboard, where Obama, forearms rippling under a kind striplight, has quickly sketched out a solution to debt in the developing world. One Direction has added a surprisingly lifelike drawing of a cock. The balls hang, inkily, just below Zimbabwe. Shaking everybody’s hand, his palm warm and dry, Obama slips away to another party. A better party.


Ignoring the X Factor judges, who are attempting to organise a game of charades with increasing desperation (“Guys. Guys!”), One Direction sidles up to a group of women and whispers: “All the things you hate about the way you look, your wrinkles, your weak chin – yeah, I’ve noticed them.” One Direction pauses, sexily. “And despite all of them, even that thing next to your nose, I’d still shag you.” With Nadine Dorries they attempt a joke, something kangaroo-bum related, something about “having her foetuses”, but it falls flat and they stand awkwardly talking about weather, and time. “It gets so dark…” One Direction says. “So early,” Dorries finishes.


George Entwistle has a red-wine stain down his shirt, which he’s mopping with a white wine-soaked tie. He’s heard this works. It doesn’t seem to. Through the wet cotton his nipples are clearly visible. Leveson, swaying sensitively to the music coming from an iPod, approaches, clearing his throat. “Um, I understand you were meant to be organising the entertainment,” he says inquisitively.


There is a pause, and Entwistle turns towards him. “I will write an urgent report covering the details leading up to our failure to hire the karaoke system,” he says, cutting off Eton’s bawdy carol as he strolls into the room, “and apologise unreservedly for any tedium this has caused.”


“What a year,” says Clare Balding, crushing her cup into the recycling. “What an interesting year.”


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