Pleased to be joining the 12 Days of Clink Street Christmas tour today, and my guest is Yana Stajno, author of Rules for Thursday Lovers. So Yana, how to cope with that office Christmas party…
Days are dark, rain steady; red baubles mushroom all over the city; the Singing Santa is installed on top of the cracked pots in the Garden Centre. In the mad sprint to the C-word, there are a hundred deadlines. Everyone needs to see you before we all tip over into next year. And if things weren’t bad enough, there’s the Office Christmas Party.
No good thinking you can get out of it – you can’t! If you try and pull a sickie, you’ll have to make it big – a brain seizure or Ebola might just work. But HR would need to see the hospital file. A dying relative could have worked if only you hadn’t used it last year. And you’re not away, sadly. They know that.
Having accepted the inevitable, you dress sensibly in essential dark colours. They won’t clash with the obligatory Xmas hat, will absorb any stains the evening might throw at you and might make you invisible if you attempt to slope off before the conga. Remember to pack running shoes in your bag. And have that Uber App updated on your phone. Just in case.
You must eat before you go. There’s never anything edible by the time you get there and a growling stomach doesn’t make you a good listener.
Focus. Try to be positive. Have a plan. You got through the Summer Barbeque with one. Use the Christmas Party as an opportunity to Network.
Ugh! Never. Okay then, make it interesting for yourself.
How about you make up your own rules. I love making up rules. You could – for instance – do everything in threes.
There must three people you want to talk to. Ad you could try out three random words you pick out of the dictionary. Jut for the sake of the exercise I propose crepuscular, dyadic and loofah. But your dictionary will open on different pages. But try weaving loofah into small talk – I dare you.
And what about those three people you want to avoid? How are you going to make that interesting? You could weave past and around them all evening. But I have a radical suggestion. I would bone up on three major causes of death in the Middle Ages. And divulge every gory detail to each of them. That way, you’ll be doing the talking and they’ll be checking their phones and backing away. Result – you won’t have to avoid them again next year.
Do not get drunk. This is essential. In fact, if you can avoid alcohol altogether, this would be safest. After all, these people in silly hats blocking your path to the canapés aren’t friends – they’re competitors. And that hot intern who’s filling your glass, isn’t hitting on you; he’s studying you so closely because he wants your job. You’ve got to stay sober because right now, you’re working!
So, put down the wine, pick up fizzy water, and head for the company director. She stares at you blankly, then calls you Tara, Why should she know who you are? Say your name clearly and say you’re in admin, not marketing. That you’re the person who orders her stationery and has her computer fixed. In the lull that follows this revelation, it is important not to mention Brexit, the state of the pound, or the draft in your side of the building. Instead, slip the word crepuscular into your next sentence. Turns out she’s really nice, is a fly fishing fanatic and is thrilled when you mention all the crepuscular insects that become active at dusk. That’s that box ticked. You hope you’ve made a good impression or even any impression by the time the hot intern begins refilling her glass. Then you’re free to find an unsuspecting recipient for the word, dyadic.
If you get through the evening without snapping at anyone, yawning uncontrollably, getting pissed, divulging an awful secret, or waking up on the other side of town in a strange bed, then award yourself the Office Christmas Party of the Year Survival Prize. The prize could be – a get out of next year’s Office Christmas Party – by booking yourself on package holiday to Morocco.
There’s no Christmas there, you hope.
Thanks Yana! Let’s take a closer look at Rules for Thursday Lovers:
When old school friends, Angie and Fiona, bump into one another at a rather drunken timeshare event aboard a barge on the river Thames, their reunion will prove to be auspicious. Bored with her life, Fiona insists they both need some excitement. Their marriages have grown stale; their previous hopes and dreams confined to the top shelf, just out of reach. Both women crave romance, not a timeshare apartment. Timesharing a lover; now that would be interesting… Auditions are swiftly convened at London Zoo, with hopefuls including a language student, an opera singer and a pickpocket. Their advert also falls into the hands of a young lawyer called Jake, a colleague of Angie’s solicitor husband on a sperm-ownership case. To make sure they each play fair, the women create a list of rules by which they will court and enjoy a man of their mutual choosing. But when has love ever been fair, especially amongst friends?
About Yana Stajno
Born in Zimbabwe and educated in South Africa, Yana Stajno enjoyed an artistic and eclectic start to life. Graduating in English and Drama at Cape Town University, Stajno was politically active, joining the anti-apartheid movement where she met her future husband in the middle of a riot. Leaving South Africa for a damp squat in Camden Town, she studied acupuncture and Chinese Medicine before becoming an artist and teacher. Stajno has written plays including Postcards from the Swamp and short stories Ten Plastic Roses (published in the Bristol Short Story Prize, 2010) and Flash in the Park (published by SelfMadeHero, 2012); this is her first novel. Yana can be found in her artist studio at the Chocolate Factory, Wood Green, where she happily splashes paint and hosts workshops for children of all ages with the Booster Cushion company.