COLM O'REGAN: Now that I'm self-employed I miss office Christmas parties

Now that I’m self-employed, I miss it: the work email that used to arrive like a cheery relief in the middle of more ominous subject lines. After “Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Issues” and before “Re: Re: Re: Who else knows?”, it popped in:“The Sports and Social Club Invites you to the ... CHRISTMAS PARTAE!“

It must have been tense sending on the Christmas party email during the boom. Expectations were sky-high. Perk competition was keen as Celtic Tiger Cubs swapped stories.

“ONE NIGHT IN LONDON? – That’s BULLSH*T! Logisticontechsys are bringing their people to Dubai for a WEEK and giving them all gold-plated staplers.”

Now as the tide has turned — or at least stopped ebbing so much — any kind of a Christmas party is welcome and the response is more measured.

“Savage! We’re getting vol au vents!” Some people dread Christmas parties. They see ‘events’ such as Christmas Day, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, weddings and stag nights as another over-hyped enforced funtime where “just a bitta craic” hangs over us like an inflatable novelty sword. Even if this is your attitude, there is still much of the fake-tan-or-tie-on-forehead richness of humanity to observe and enjoy and also crucial questions that will be answered.

Which of the quiet fellas who are fairly new will be the one this year to get fluthered with the drink and be the cause of a golf buggy being found in the middle of a conference room?

Which longstanding unrequited crush will finally be extinguished when the object of affections turns up with a partner that they “SOMEHOW NEVER MENTIONED WHEN I WAS BEING LED UP THE GARDEN PATH?”

Which comedian who is “normally good” when performing on a proper stage with a working microphone in front of an audience that wants to listen is inexplicably struggling to get a laugh while standing on a biscuit tin in an L-shaped room full of a glassy-eyed mob who are annoyed about this interruption in their attempt to get the shift?

My wife and I both work from home. Our party is far smaller so I don’t think there’ll be much scandal. We’ve both been with half the office. But I’ve heard that there also special Self-Employed Christmas parties scattered here and there. I imagine organising it has its own unique challenges.

Picking a time and a place that suits everyone must be difficult. Maybe 11am on a Wednesday in a warehouse near the M50. (everyone passes the M50 at some stage on the way to meet your man with the widgets because the feckin’ thing was supposed to be sent yesterday but it went astray and ended up in Moate.)

But there are benefits. No moaning about the boss or being stuck with someone you don’t like. Just a group of people supporting each other with statements like “Shur who are you telling?” “This is it”, “Cowboys!” and “I hear Revenue are clamping down on that whole thing this year.”

You don’t need a comedian either. Someone on a 20-minute rant about “What’s the point of paying PRSI when they won’t give ya the steam off their ... if you needed social welfare” would get a standing ovation.

The main problem will be – will people relax? The problem with self employed people is that they are ‘always on’, always selling themselves or their business. It’s a theme I’ll be expanding upon in my gig at City Limits in Cork on Saturday night while holding a copy of my latest book “It’s Earlier Tis Getting, The Christmas Book of Irish Mammies.”


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