by La Duenia
December 2004 found me doing an internship at a popular photographic gallery in central London. I was doing a postgraduate course at the time and was absolutely broke which meant I would spend the winter holiday stuck in London.
My job consisted mainly of being at the reception, running errands and working “closely” with the director’s PA. An all-rounder, as they say, but there wasn’t much to do as they had four other interns. So I devoted myself to spending endless afternoons at the front desk, doing my best at getting lunch for the fuzzy director who was a heavy drinker and cocaine user but, alas, allergic to wheat and dairy, so this task was often the most arduous I would encounter the whole day.
I had also just split from a French existentialist who was seven years older than me and so had recently discovered that I was actually supposed to go out and have fun. So I embraced this December full of opportunities and soon developed an ability to be constantly hungover and lead a more or less normal life.
The problem is this was my second December in London and I had never heard of the concept “office Christmas party”. In the other two countries where I lived before, work celebrations meant mainly food and presents –usually more food-.
So one evening we gathered at the director’s office to have a toast with several litres of vodka, wine and beer. Someone noticed we didn’t have ice and so I offered to go get some. After asking at several Oddbins, pubs and restaurants, I got hold of a big bag and went back to the gallery feeling triumphant and hoping that the toast would still be going on. By the time I’d got back the production assistant was photocopying her ass and the rest of the staff were smoking spliffs and snorting coke, all merrily gathered around the director’s desk. I was rewarded with £20 for my feat and invited to sit down and have a drink. Imagine, this was my third day at the gallery and I was a bit intimidated. And so I drank and did everything that was put in front of me. The director was very enthusiastic and kept topping up my glass with pure vodka (they had run out of cranberry juice).
The next thing I remember is myself stumbling out of the toilet and hugging an unidentified male who kept telling me I was beautiful. Then I found myself in a cab with one of the other interns who offered to take me home and generously tipped the cabbie whose car I vomited in.
The next morning I woke up and thanked my colleague whom I found sleeping on my sofa. He said, oh, it was nothing, and asked whether I would like to come and see The Lion King with him. I have a spare ticket and my friend stood me up, he said. You don’t have to pay, although it was £50. Ooh, I said. I really don’t feel very well. He said he had to go and that he’d call me later to see if I’d changed my mind.
I have to say he was very persuasive. Sitting through three hours of the Lion King with a full-blown sinusitis and the worst hangover ever is not easy. And on top of all I had to buy him dinner to thank him for all the wonderful things he’d done for me.
After my office Christmas adventure I fell horribly ill for two weeks. When I went back to the gallery everyone was overly nice to me. Rumour has it the director was I afraid I might sue them or go to the press, but I am really too nice to do that.
Friday, May 4, 2007
by La Duenia