Thursday, 19 November 2009

Conference Call

I have been to my first proper conference. It took place in Harrogate , no less – conference capital of the UK – but it might as well have been held on another planet.

Now, I really don’t think anyone would class my life as excessively glamorous and exciting - I like a Tuesday even infront of Holby as much as the next person - but I do get out enough not to be giddy beyond belief at the prospect of a conference. Not so for many others, it would seem…
The standard party-line was ‘It’ll be great – it’s a couple of days out of the office, isn’t it?! ’ Well, yes, but dysentery would have the same effect…

Anyhow, I tried to put misery-guts-me to one side and embrace the conference. The journey up was quite pleasant – aside from the incessant and pointless phone calls made by the pink-tie wearing, ruddy-faced middle management men that surrounded me, that is.
The hotel was very nice, the kind of place I would probably chose to stay myself on a city break, though in true English hotel stylee; the radiators had two settings: Hotter than magma and off. I opted for off and got myself ready for the main event: The Gala Dinner.

So far so good. A couple of glasses of pre-dinner champagne went down a treat and I actaully quite enjoyed chatting to my colleagues, as it is a rather 'heads-down' office. The dinner was less than inspiring - cold salmon to start, glorified chicken kiev for main, melted cheesecake for afters - but in all fairness, to say they were catering for 1200 people, the food was actually pretty good.

After dinner we were treated to a rather excellent Commitments-esque weddings/bar-mitzvahs and all-other- functions-catered- for-band, and what looked like a never-ending sea of booze-fuelled sequin-clad ladies dancing the night away. Imagaine a wedding dance floor where EVERYONE is a drunk auntie/Nolan Sister and you're halfway there. Amazing.

The night decsnded into one of my bosses making everyone play a drinking game which involved the loser having to down a glass containing a heady mix of gin, tonic, larger and a bit of vodka. Lovely. Aged 16 I'm pretty certain I would have loved this, even, or rather especially, if I'd lost. However, seeing as I can now afford to buy drinks, and there was free champagne still knocking around - why the hell would I want to drink slops?! Fun, you say? Well as a bona fide miserable bugger, you'll have to come up with a better reason than that.

Anyhow, I unsurprisingly took all manner of crap from 'the team' for not playing along, but refused to bow to the peer pressure. To be honest; it wasn't hard. At least when people try to make you smoke it's tempting beacuse a. it's ace and b. it makes you look cool. But who looks cool downing (or bringing back up) a pint pot of slops?

But it all paid off, and I genuinely hope that some hard-done-to teen stumbles across this blog and learns a Wonder Years-type lesson: Do not bow to peer pressure. I may have taken some shit at the gala, but the next day was told at breakfast that 'they wished to God they hadn't played - you had it right' and was even told by my boss later in the day that he 'respected my ability to make and have faith in my decisions'. Yeah.

Pint pot of slops? Just say no, kids.

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