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Melanie Morris: Why no one would talk to me after the office bash

Impossible and all as it might be to believe, it seems the world is about to become a far more boring place. Apparently, bosses and managers in their droves are cancelling the annual office Christmas party.

Not for financial reasons, but because of the fall-out and drama that follows as a result of them each year. Hardly surprising, I guess, because everyone has an office party horror story. But it's one of those rites of passage we all have to go through, something character-forming that hopefully makes us wiser.

My own horror story goes back to December 1984 when I'd been in my very first job for barely a week. I'd landed a position with Lynne Franks PR, the very hip London company headed up by the woman who inspired Jennifer Saunders' character of Edina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous. Only just in the door, I knew it was a bad idea, as I didn't know anyone. And as they were all icy cool, I knew I'd go into chatty overdrive to compensate.

In spite of my best judgment, I went, I drank, and then I tried to empathise with the head of the fashion department's boyfriend, who was sitting beside me at dinner. A nice enough English bloke, he'd tried to get a job teaching in Ireland some years previously, but had no luck.

As we all got stuck into the vino, I explained to him that he'd never have got the job of a national junior school form teacher that he'd wanted, because he didn't speak Irish.

What I was trying to say, was that knowledge of the Irish language was compulsory for teachers in Ireland. What he heard was "F-off back to your own country, you Brit, and stop trying to take our jobs".

It seemed the great cultural divide gets wider as one consumes more alcohol and by the time Monday came around, no one in the office would talk to me. Honestly. Half were offended by what I'd "said", the other half were afraid to go near me fearing I was some raving Provo.

Eventually, one nice girl took pity and explained all, so that at least I could go about repairing the damage. It was pure Bridget Jones stuff and could've resulted in a very short career in PR for me, but thankfully my frosty colleagues melted.


Since then, I've been to dozens of office parties, and have always had a laugh, but have managed to stay on the sane side of silly. Although, reading my favourite Facebook update of the week, maybe I've missed out.

It's from my boyfriend's sister Tammy, who " ... thinks it's probably for the best I can't make the office do as at previous ones, I have learnt: not to strangle the boss with tinsel, not to show people your knickers, not to "bundle" the MD, not to try to request karaoke in a restaurant, not to pose inappropriately with one's manager in photos, not to start fights, not to start food fights and not to throw colleagues in bushes."

Wise words indeed, from one who's walked the walk. But in truth, without indulging in some of these character-forming antics, what's the point in conforming and being a good, industrious worker bee for the rest of the year?

We need the annual office bash to let off steam. To tell the boss we know he plays Farmville all day, and to slag the receptionist about her bad fake tan habit before behaving inappropriately with the financial controller on the dancefloor.

Melanie Morris is editor of IMAGE Magazine