Off Topic

Does England ever think of us?

does england ever think of us

As divorce rates in Ireland continue to increase, I pondered, as an ex-partner is often wont to do, does England ever think of us? We think of them. Our citizens are over and back all the time; going to get work, a change in lifestyle, visiting family who have emigrated, off to do a bit of shopping, catch a show, what have you. We are over and back that often sometime it’s hard to remember that it is a separate county with whom we have a troubled passed.

For us they are like a good-looking ex-husband we have built a friendship with many years after the fact. They are always there is the background, at the back of our thoughts. Sure we have had great loves and boyfriends since, America will always be the sugar daddy we can call, but England holds a special place in our sub-conscious, perhaps because we share a dependent, Northern Ireland. Like the only child in a bad divorce has had its emotional problems and run-ins with the law, but now older and wiser on the other side of the Good Friday Therapy Sessions it’s practically able to look after itself. What was once a source of pain, frustration, worry, anxiety has now blossomed into its own entity, and that pressure point that was sure to make the parent countries quarrel, both assuming they knew what was best, has now subsided. We fight less. Maybe we talk less. And so I wonder do they ever think of us?

As of late England has had its own family problems, dependents from previous relationships are maturing and trying to find their independence; defining themselves and trying to find their place in life. Like kids finishing college, they want to be seen as adults, independent sovereign nations, but know they still need their parent’s cash.

For the most part the wounds of the divorce have healed, so much so that in some ways we can look back nostalgically about the time we spent together – sure there was oppression and a bit of land robbing, but there was also a fine infrastructure, a pre-packaged system of law, and an education system, not to mention a language that sounds less like coughing up phlegm.

Even now as we plan our big party, 100 years since we left ‘em, the prelude to the divorce party in 1922, the biggest question being asked is should we invite them over – officially like. Of course we are hoping lots of them get on a boat or a plane and come over for the craic, but are we going to send them an actual invitation? Is it appropriate to invite your ex to celebrate the anniversary of your separation? There will be a lot of drinking and reminiscing about the good times we had, do we really want to run the risk of waking up the morning after back in bed with each other?

And then, like the most insecure of ex-partners, even though we dumped them, the ultimate question of self-doubt was asked (by Ivan Yates of all people) do they even want to come? Oh the mortification of us being the bigger country and asking the over for the sake of Northern Ireland and the good times we had only for them to say they are washing the Thames that week and can’t make it. A county-wide #TotesAwkyMomo. How would we come back from that? France would never give over sniggering about it.

But do we have to invite them? It’s not like we were invited to the Royal Wedding or the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Northern Ireland was, thank god, and I am glad it was for the kid’s sake, and Northern Ireland should be there on our big day too, but do we really need to invite their dad?

Moon Acreage:

Sound Financial Investment or Immoral Speculation


The crisis is back. Dublin is facing a significant housing shortage; with buyers’ beginning to queue for five days before houses open for sale to the public. Property prices in urban areas are beginning to rise, rents are inflating accordingly, while rural areas struggle to gather enough property tax to maintain basic services. Once again as the bubble swells, it’s all beginning to feel a little bit Deja-vu, as we are assured that it is absolutely not a bubble and that there will indeed be a soft landing. People are once again desperate to get on the property ladder as soon as possible, fearing that if they wait prices will once again soar astronomically.

A nasty new trait of this second bubble however is the position of the lowest rung on the property ladder. With dramatically fewer units being built each year, many first-time buyers are being forced to buy second-hand homes. Most of these current home owners are still being scorched by negative equity, so the bottom rung is not the price of the fire-sales of the crash, but rather a price at which previous owners can afford to walk away at (unless of course you are fortunate enough to find a new estate with fixed prices opening in your area). Planners are predicting that the shortage of affordable homes in the city will push the commuter belt out as far as Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow, forcing long commutes on already weary workers. It is no wonder that people are beginning to look around for alternative accommodation.

The question remains however, how far will they go this time? While the desperate among us quote house prices in Leitrim for €45,000 and less, in the Celtic Tiger Era it was not unknown for commuters to undertake a two or three hour daily trek from Gorey, Athlone, Edenderry or Portlaoise. The agreement being that it was possible to buy land and build for a fraction of the city prices and that there was no traffic on the commute once outside the city limits. Usually there was a vague Council Development Plan to improve public transport to these new urban hubs, so really these commuters were early pioneers whose properties were bound to dramatically increase in value at any time now.

A friend of mine took this reasoning one step further, and looking at the advancements being made by Virgin Galactic to commercialise space travel, she figured out that her quality of life and her work/life balance could not be diminished any further if her home was on the moon. Although not currently a feasible commute, she has made a speculative investment on behalf of the next generation and purchased a bijou plot overlooking the Sea of Tranquillity, located on the bright side of the moon, but within easy walking (bouncing?) distance of the entertainment quarter bound to be located on the dark side.

With precedents set in the land grab of America by the Mayflower settlers, and in the plantations of Ireland, the validity of this investment cannot so easily be dismissed by naysayers. The purchase from the Lunar Embassy takes advantage of the UN Outer Space Treaty of 1967 which stipulates that no government can own extra-terrestrial property, but, neglects to mention individuals and corporations. Therefore, under laws dating back to early US settlers, it is possible to stake a claim for land that has been surveyed, by registering it with the US Office of Claim Registries, and by informing the General Assembly of the United Nations, the US Government, and the Russian Government, in writing, of the legal claim. These governing bodies have several years in which to contest the claim, which they never have.

However before my friend bedecks herself in the latest in Pioneer Women’s Fashion, a few practical matters must be addressed. While investing in foreign properties was a characteristic of the first bubble, and I am sure there have been guarantees made that the Luas link will eventually get that far, one must not overlook the unique challenges having a home not only in a different timezone, but also on a different calendar. Acquiring insurance in such a volatile market will have its own quirks and ‘acts of god’ will probably require redefining. Should one decide to lease their property, or enter into time-share, contracts will have to overcome the differences in an Earth year verses a Moon year (354 days). This difference in calendar will also have to be overcome by employers in the new lands as the Working Time Act, Public Holidays and indeed the number of hours in a working day will all need reinterpretation for the new environment (a day on the Moon lasts 29.5 Earth days).

However before rushing forth to these new lands, one must stop to think of the repercussions this absentee landlordism might create. I presume the strategy to populate these new lands will be much as it always has been in human history. Just as the conquests of old, an invading wave of mercenaries shall sweep before the settlers clearing up any misunderstanding the native population might have regarding land ownership, with the colonists to follow, flag in hand, ready for planting. However this general assumption seems to be that much like the Spanish had steel and the English had long swords, that we Earthmen will have the superior weaponry to clear the moon men/ women/ super furry animals/ beings from our path. Not once has anyone stopped to consider that much like playful lambs prancing into a pack of wolves and back out again, that the moon beings have been salivating since the first moon walk waiting for us to come back. Just because they didn’t eat Neil Armstrong on sight doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a shocked and confused alien expression away from his most famous words being “One small step from man, one giant – oh my god, what the hell is tha- it’s got my leg!! It’s got my leg?!”, with Buzz running for his life in the background. Although one could also consider that much like the UN protects developing primitive tribes from the onslaught of modernisation, so too could the advanced Moon civilisation be allowing this culture to grow at its own pace organically, and they are just waiting for us to get there to start selling us the Moon equivalent of sneakers, McDonalds, Coke-Cola and gin.

You know you are old when…

Up Disney

Grey hairs, a trick knee/hip/shoulder, the odd wrinkle – the clues that show your body is aging are very clear, but the clues to show your mind is following can be more elusive…

  1. “Kids today” refers to people in their mid to late twenties rather than their teens.
  2. Mylie Cyrus’s antics read like a re-run of the Madonna playbook, only with less singing ability as if anyone thought that was possible.
  3. You can’t watch twilight without getting flashbacks to your own years of teenaged angst when everything was so dramatic, so heartfelt, and god, so deep man – oh and of course, nobody knew a love like yours.
  4. Pension talks are no longer an excuse to catch an hour’s kip at work – now you bring a pen and notebook to take notes for those who might miss it.
  5. Your friends are all on drugs – but now they are prescribed and legal.
  6. While intrigued by it, you can’t help but note that some of the antics in Fifty Shades Of Grey were not up to any Health and Safety code.
  7. You are no longer “really fit” and people have begun to refer to you as spry, or being very active “for your age”.
  8. A good pub is one where you can get a seat; a great pub is one where you can sit down and hear what people are saying over the music.
  9. Your credit card statement reads as a who’s-who of DIY stores, supermarkets and carparks.
  10. Songs banned from radio in your twenties are now considered classic rock.

Blog Life – Following v’s Stalking

What’s the difference online?

C33. following2

Recently I have been trying to build the public profile of our little blog. One of accepted ways of doing this by visiting similar blogs or websites and adding comments on their articles, while subtly namedropping your own blog. The other thing to do is to follow everyone who follows you (even if this kind of means you are going around in circles).

Simple I thought.

This started out casually. I found a few blogs I liked that were ‘on brand’, read an article, had something to say about it, and popped in a comment. No change in stats.
So I read two or three articles, on even more sites, left a comment on each and hoped for a reply. No reply. No change in stats.

I was feeling a little unloved and rejected, but preserved. Making new friends is a bit like dating, you have to dust yourself off and try again.

And then I noticed that a few of the bloggers I was observing (read: at this stage, targeting) attended a meeting here in my own city. I need to know more. Where had it been? Where would the next one be? How could I organise an invite?

And this is where I felt I crossed the line.

I was no longer a casual follower, content to see where these people were going, I was now a predicator, hunting these people, trying to predict their next move. I had made the metaphysical leap from politely walking up to their front door and introducing myself, to hiding in their bushes and screaming my own name as they walked by.

It was easier to tell where this line was in the old days before internet. Followers were the sort of people who went to regular meetings in the parish hall, listened to the talk while munching on tea-cakes and didn’t think about it until the next meeting. If you had over 400 of them, you set up your own religion, L. Ron Hubbard style. Stalkers were the peeping toms who bought high-powered binoculars and waited outside windows for women to undress.

I don’t want to be a tom. I don’t want to be riffling through the post and discover not only have UPC upped their prices yet again for no reason, but I have been served a restraining order against someone I barely know and was kinda hoping to befriend.

Although trying to join an online community for a purpose is different from establishing friendships. It is really networking corporate style, whether we like to admit it or not. I am hoping that I and these bloggers will establish a mutually advantages following arrangement which brings forward both our endeavours – ‘friends with benefits’ if you will, rather than ‘victim and perpetrator’.

In a modern era, these concepts have taken on a whole new life. There was a day where it took the skills of Paul Daniels to follow more than one person at once, whereas these days it might be considered a little creepy or stalker-ish to be only subscribed to one blog or website, it’s the equivalent of having only one Facebook friend. It’s like fidelity and monogamy have taken on the seedy undertones that used to be associated with polygamy.

Also, it is totally acceptable to constantly and continuously follow someone like Niall Horan through social media; to be updated on his every move, and that of his social circle, and to be checking that information on a PC in your mother’s basement if you so choose. But try to hang out with him in person by showing up a few places unannounced and suddenly you are having a long detailed discussion with security and the police about your inappropriate stalking behaviour.

I feel like technology needs to come up with a solution to this problem, so you can tell when you are going over the mark. There should be some automated communication that says something like;

Dear Social-Media Recipient

Congratulations you are now following thirty blogs.

Unfortunately you are also stalking fifteen, please stop.

The Internet .

Otherwise people, not unlike me, will continue to post comments, follow blogs, and reach out for a little bit of bloggin’ love, without realising that the demarcation of social acceptability is somewhere behind them in the distant horizon.

So how does one do it? Answers on a postcard please – How does one join an online community, become one of the gang, insinuate themselves into their trust so that … no wait I’ve gone over the line again.

Life Myths – Fact or Fiction

Where we weed out the truth from the random clap-trap people wheel out.

5. Life Myths

Here are just a few observations I have gleamed from life so far which I have categorised into two groups; I buy that or total balderdash.

1. Dogs don’t eat crisps.

Dogs eat the sides of tables, shoes, their own bed, and if you don’t stop them the cats’ litter tray, of course they eat crisps.

2. Cats don’t eat crisps.

Now this one I felt held more water, but unfortunately, when tested fell through. The cat will eat whatever you eat, if only because you looked like you were enjoying it. I think it’s a trust thing – if it hasn’t killed the royal taster then it probably won’t kill the cat.

3. Dogs and cats SHOULDN’T eat crisps.

Now this one I believe. I’m not a vet or anything, and haven’t asked one in case they take my animals away for their own safety, and I am sure there has never been a cat or dog fed solely crisps to test it, but I feel like this one is more than a factoid – I think it could be a fact.

4. You need to live in the countryside to keep hens – you cannot do it in a housing estate.

Not true. If you have a patch without concrete or stones about 2m x 1m that you can pop a hen house on, call the council to get yourself a flock number and a local farmer to get you a couple of hens and away you go. Just bear in mind that hens poop EVERYWHERE so enclose the area, and it is not safe for little hands who are likely to touch the poop and then put those hands in their mouth to play around hens (plus hens can be fairly trigger happy with the ole pecks and those beaks are hard). Little hands that are more germaphopic should be fine.

5. Your neighbours would prefer if you lived in the countryside if you are going to keep hens.

Judging from the cooling of relations with our neighbours over the hens that woke up at 5.30am and announced the new day to the world – I’m going to say this is a fact.

6. You need to live in the countryside to keep a sheep or a pig

This one is also a fact. It seems like a great idea initially; the sheep can live in the front garden, trim the grass and give milk; the pig can live in the back garden and eventually we will eat it. Then you meet a full grown sheep and realise those huge teeth in the front are actually bone and sheep are terrifying, or, you meet a full grown pig and realise it would have no qualms eating you, cooked or not. Plus the Residents Committee are likely to picket with placards if you go this far.

7. Your school days are the best days of your life

Please tell me in what world does a day when you have no money, live at home with your nagging uncool parents and annoying siblings, are very hormonal, have bad skin and are studying hard for exams better than a day when you blow off work early, head down to the pub for a few pints, meet a nice looking someone and go home to have causal sex?

Every day that gets me further away from my awkward teenage years is the best day for me.

8. Your wedding day is the best day of your life.

Lady, all in the same day, I once found e20 in an old jacket, ordered takeaway and got it for free, spent the whole day on the couch watching great telly and then later found a mars bar down the back of that couch. No day has topped that yet.

9. Being pregnant is the most special time of your life.

This one might be true, but only because to go from pregnant to no longer pregnant a) something has to crawl out of you and b) people will judge if you opt for too many painkillers to numb the experience. I can only imagine how the time preceding that event, when you didn’t have the memories of that trauma, would seem to be very special.

10. Every day has the potential to be special

This one I buy.

Soon to follow: Things That Aren’t True but Should Be.

Oh, I really wish I could, but I just don’t have the time

C21. Time v2

New Year, New You: I don’t know what they put in the mulled-wine around Christmas that make us so aspirational and optimistic about what the next year will bring, but if you’re anything like me, much of your New Year chatter pontificated grandly on the wonderful things you were going to achieve in 2014, while you lazed on the couch with a second piece of pudding drenched brandy butter watching re-runs of old year-end quiz shows. “Sure I need the second piece, because next week I’m going to start marathon training so I’ll need the extra poundage for energy, gives me a bit to lose”.


January is usually a good month – everything is new and exciting; I set goals and stick to them (“Look at me go, I’m going to be ripped in no time”). End of January into February I tend to lag a bit; payday shows up so I am no longer too broke to do anything other than run laps of the local track for entertainment. Mid-February I usually get a new spurt of guilt–induced determination, but this second wind passes more quickly than the initial enthusiasm, so much of March is spent guiltily watching deadlines pass unfulfilled. By April I give up and embrace full out denial – “Run in the Dublin Marathon, sure I never said I’d do that – are ya mad?” and then December rolls around again “My New Year’s resolution? The 2015 Dublin Marathon – yeah, I know, big right? It’s going to be epic. Could you pass the crisps? I need to stock up on energy.”

Look, it’s good to have aspirations, everyone should dream big, but going from that Christmas inertia to the New Year hyper-drive and keeping that momentum for a whole year can be hell, and quickly these beautiful aspirations morph into ugly frustrations and become yet another stick of dissatisfaction to beat yourself down with. But I don’t think that is a reason to stop trying, just a reason to change the approach.

Over the last few years I noticed that the biggest reason my new hobbies fell by the wayside was Time; it was fine in the winter when everyone was hibernating, but as the spring and summer start up there are so many things going on that I develop acute FOMO (fear of missing out) and just do not have the time to do it all. In an ideal world I would have the money and resources to hire a large staff to prepare my daily schedule to ensure I got the most from each day, but until that day rolls around (and it will) here are some tips I used to scrape back some time and avoided missing deadlines. Some of them are difficult to start, but if you have perseverance, like a kid taking up smoking for the first time, they soon become unbreakable habits.

  1. Stop slouching on the couch after work – instead try use this time constructively. I know, you’re exhausted; it’s been a long day, the traffic was hell, all you want to do is flake out…. but, what if instead of that you had dinner, did a project/training for an hour and went to bed early. Not only would you feel that you achieved something that day, you will also feel less like a hamster on a wheel as though your whole life is an endless cycle of working and sleeping and working again.
  1. Limit your TV viewing/ book reading/ movie watching/ game playing. I am not saying any of the above are evil, and god knows every so often it’s all you’re fit for, but if you reduce the amount of time you take in media (except this blog obviously), it frees up some time for you to create and output material.
  1. Write down (honestly – you don’t have to show it to anyone, it’s just for you) what you spent your time doing for a week. Not only will this keep you more focused on being productive, it will also highlight the 30 min you spent gazing out the window, brushing your hair or watching You-Tube videos of people falling over.
  1. Multi-task – link tasks which require you to do things without really thinking, with tasks which require you to think without doing anything. Examples; Listen to podcasts about day-job/current affairs/blogging while walking the dog. Watch that recording of your favourite must-see TV show over dinner. Call your Mum while you are sorting the laundry. Do the ironing while catching up with your partner’s day. Let your mind wander and have space to think as you do the hovering.
  1. Get a To-do list; a daily one and a long term one. On the daily list, every item you need to do (within reason) goes on and then comes off one at a time. Not only does it keep you focused but you can also see what you got done that week which gives you motivation to stay productive. There are some tricks with this however
  • Break up items into bite-sized tasks. Don’t put on ‘Decorate Bathroom’ as that is a long term task, instead put on ‘pick colour scheme’ ‘buy paint’ ‘research storage ideas’ ‘purchase storage’ etc.
  • Don’t assign tasks to days – just do what you can today, and do the rest tomorrow. How do you eat an elephant? – one bite at a time. Approach your list the same way. It will all get done eventually.
  • Only add what you need to do – I know everyone loves a clean home; but are any of the family going to catch TB if you don’t hoover again today? If not, then there is no need to add it to the list.

The long term list should be the big things you want to get done in the coming months. This will help you keep your eye on the prize and avoid getting lost in the minutiae of the daily list.

  1. Every moment is valuable so use it to the full. Instead of wasting an hour lunch regurgitating the same gossip day-in day-out, do something useful; go on a walk, take a trip to the gym, make those household phone calls, if you’re at home – do some housework. If you commute make this time work for you too; treat it as your ‘you’ time – read a book, listen to music, catch up with friends, speak to your partner, this can be quality time if you let it.
  1. Stop getting hangovers, which for me meant stop drinking. Again, not because drink is evil, but because I got 3 day hangovers that wiped out my whole weekend. Now I have two extra days in the week, plus I am saving money on taxis – added bonus.
  1. Allow yourself to occasionally crash. It is not possible to run at 100%, 100% of the time. Listen to your body and mind when it says it can do no more and embrace it. Catch up on the telly/books/games etc you have been avoiding, recharge the batteries and be ready to go again tomorrow.
  1. Ask for and accept help. When I am chasing a deadline I ask my husband to do a little more than his share of the housework, just as I pick up the slack when he is under pressure. I have asked friends for a dig out with guest blogs. I asked my sister to pick up fabric while she was over in Blanchardstown. If you don’t ask, people won’t know you need help, but just be careful to keep this as give-and-take and return the favours in your quieter times.
  1. Be prepared: Jot down ideas as they occur to you, so that when you can make time for writing the time is used productively, rather than staring out the window with writers block. Stack your gym mat and weights close to the telly, so you can quickly set up when you have time for that exercise video.
  1. Do not procrastinate. If you can do it today, do, don’t wait until tomorrow, you have no idea what it will bring. Last thing you want is to be sitting in the hospital/police station/gig of your life worrying about what you should have done yesterday rather than focusing on today, or worse, having to turn down an amazing opportunity because you didn’t study for that exam yesterday and now have to do it today.
  1. Do as you go. It takes just as long to put a dish in the dishwasher as it does to leave it on the workspace – but it takes 10min to fill a dishwasher from a full workspace. The same applies for filing and a myriad of minor tasks. Don’t be creating unnecessary work for yourself in the future out of laziness.
  1. Clean and organise your home and workspace – you will get more done if you don’t have to spend hours search for tools/the other shoe/your laptop/keys/phone. Without being OCD about it, everything should have a place, and everything should be in its place. Good and plentiful storage will help with this one.
  1. Be realistic in your planning. It is not possible to be two places at once, give 100% attention to more than one thing, travel faster than the speed of light. Bear this in mind and don’t commit to anything which requires any of the above. Learn to say ‘No’. It is better to say No in the start than do a bad-rush job at the 11th hour, or worse, miss the deadline and let someone down.

With all that said there are some important thoughts I would like to leave you with;

  1. Accept from the outset that you cannot do it all. It is not possible to be a CEO that works 18 hours a day and simultaneously be a stay at home mom that pushes swings and bakes apple pies. Unless you can time travel no amount of time-saving can change that fact. You can however be a CEO that works 8-10 hours a day, plays with the kids in the evenings and bakes pies at the weekend.
  2. Be in the moment. Multitasking banal chores is one thing, but do not be so busy that you miss the important moments. If you schedule in time to see your friends or go out for dinner, then do that. Put the phone at the bottom of your bag and focus on where you are. The twitter feed can wait; this is the stuff that you are saving time elsewhere to enjoy.
  3. There is a priority triangle (similar to the food triangle, but inverted): it goes family, friends, paying bills, other stuff. The top 3 can switch around depending on your stage in life but they always sit above ‘other stuff’. If the addition of yet another project/goal/activity causes ‘other stuff’ to take too large a proportion of your life, then you may have to accept that at this moment you are overstretched, and perhaps it would be better make a different New Year’s resolution and leave the marathon running for another time.

Horrible Christmas

horrible christmas

I won’t force the whole office to partake in corporate frivolity just because my department is quiet and I am bored, because I know every other department is really busy coming up to the end of the year, trying to get projects finished before we break for the holidays.” said no HR person in history ever.

Now, don’t get me wrong, that last day or two before we break for Christmas holidays, I too am in the Christmas mood. I want to crank up Christmas FM and eat turkey for lunch, but not 4 weeks before the Christmas holidays. Not on December 1st. On December 1st I have work to do. I have a whole month of work to do before we break for the holidays and every day in that month is precious, because it’s usually the month we discover something was promised to be completed in this calendar year that has yet to be even started. It’s a very busy time for me and my team and I have no energy for people stealing that time, by wishing it away or planning corporate events that eat up hours with very little return.

I don’t know what it is about Christmas that brings out the worst in the HR department. For 11 months they are a functional, efficient department, but as soon as December 1st rolls around, out come the corporate bonding activates “Each department should decorate their work stations, and we will have a competition to see who wins”, the money wasting ideas “We have ordered gold chalices to give out as prizes at the Christmas Dinner for the people we think are the best employees, even though we have no idea how to judge who is the ‘best’ in this office as we really have no idea what you guys do, oh, and by the way, the Christmas Party this year is in the Taj Mahal” and the time wasting activities “We are forming a Corporate Christmas Choir to sing to the poor unfortunates in area surrounding head office {like their lives wasn’t hard enough around this time of year} and because we hear you run a church choir it is now mandatory that you are involved, to show corporate spirit.”

So this year, in an act of petty retaliation, I have created Horrible Christmas. It is the antithesis of what Christmas should be, because for me a corporation celebrating a religious, family holiday is the antithesis of what Christmas should be.

I started with the tree. Scared snowmen, gangrene toe in a Christmas sock, ginger bread men half eaten and terrified, rotten amputated fingers – these are the items which will adorn my corporate Christmas tree. The tree itself shall be two broken bald sticks tied together with string, badly, plunged into a pot of dirt.

Behind the tree shall be Santa’s tombstone, giving the date of the corporate memo as the date Santa died. And a skull just to underline that message (and because I already own a cool one).

Garlands shall adorn the walls – dancing zombies returning from the dead to delight in this mangled feast. Above those messages of ill-will to all far and near, so all those who gather to wonder at my creation shall be clear on the message. I thought “Winter is coming” might be a clear indication to the frosty reception those bringing good cheer to my department before December 23rd is likely to receive and “This is the winter of our discontent” signalling why we are doing it and when it is likely to stop.

Presents were next, to hang under the tree. These will be the only gifts exchanged by my department in the Korporate Kris Kindle. Gifts shall include a battery with the message ‘toy not included’, crocheted shorts, coal, tic-tacs relabled ‘snowman poo’, headless elves.

Food is next – biscuits depicting the inevitable slow painful death of all snowmen.

And the piece de resistance, a sign for the only corporate choir I will be partaking in, Foul Ole Ron’s Christmas Carollers and the Methadone Waiting List Band who at 8pm will be ‘playing the spoons to your favourite tunes’.

If all that doesn’t get us black listed from enforced corporate cheer I don’t know what will, now can we all just get back to work?!