Of people who roll up slightly tipsy (or indeed, blasted out of their minds) for afternoon office meetings.
Of course, having a long and honourable history of office work (from 1997, to be exact, Oh God, why don’t I just die already?), I was no stranger to the phenomenon of drunk-at-work. I can remember one occasion when high-ranking delegates from a fancy European country showed up blasted out of their minds in a cloud of alcohol and giggling hysterically at a meeting with the head of our fancy organization. “The Ambassador serves such good lunches!” one of them screamed, “with strawberries!” another added. And yes, I have seen colleagues sneaking in beer for a little boost after hours. Well, such is life.
But so far, I had spared myself such honour.
It was not my fault! The menu was too strange! Red-wine-poached-pear, baked-beet and fresh-watercress pizza, cannelloni in wood-stove fire with artichokes and pesto, the waitress smiled too much, the wine was a rough sour local Jost white, there was construction with bizarre tiny machines outside the window, which competely entranced my lunch companion, the dessert was ridiculously phallic, and delicious, “salted caramel tart”, and reminded me of my childhood and Thorton’s toffee in Leeds, even while we were giggling at its crazy mounded shape with a raspberry on the top.
The result was that I sailed into the office at 1:20, smiling broadly, while my boss and the assistant were hastily pushing chairs into places. I felt I needed a nap. Badly. I thought of those European delegates from so long ago. I felt I would die if I sat round that table and listened to process funds restructuring budget research immigration policy academia. My boss asked for copies of something. I went to my computer and wondered whether my lunch was showing. The assistant followed me. She assured me not. But it is always a bad sign to ask.
A surreal meeting. The chairman (the archetypal old white man, about two hundred years old) kept forgetting what he was talking about, and I had to remind him. Others didn’t seem to have a clue. I felt that even if someone had started talking about birds and bees, noone would have noticed. Maybe the others had had a crazy Jost lunch with red-wine-poached-pears too.