19 December 2005

Pleasant flight to Birmingham for work conference and Christmas party. The conference was the usual, stuff I’ve heard at work conferences for many many years: got to get closer to our customers, got to focus on what we’re best at, cut out activity for activity’s sake etc etc. The only speaker who had anything interesting to say talked about real things in real life bank branches. We had the routine break out into small discussion groups but thankfully no requirement to put points on a flipchart and report back to the conference.

The party was lavish – an excellent meal, free drink for much of the evening, and tables handsomely equipped with toys – crackers, poppers (not that kind), things that exploded with sparkling confetti and, best of all, pea-shooters and polystyrene peas. The same people who earlier had been rabbiting in all seriousness about objectives and targets and customers and processes were firing these little missiles at each other across the hall, ducking behind pillars and under tables. Beside me a pregnant woman was on all fours gathering up ‘peas’ to fire. There was a choice of traditional turkey etc and a selection of Thai dishes with different kinds of noodles and rice, and it was followed by the best creme brulee ever made. One of the managers got the entire kitchen and waitress staff out onto the floor for a round of applause, richly deserved (although highly embarrassing).

Afterwards it was drink and disco, but being a ‘remote worker’ I didn’t know many people well, not enough for more than a few minutes conversation, and that about work. In previous years there have been more of my old colleagues from Scottish Widows, so we’d have a dance and a laugh, but I felt a bit spare last night. After a few games of pool with a stranger who was drunk enough to be almost as bad at pool as I am, I went off to bed.