I will not give up, however. I have started sending pleading emails to the advertising wings of as many corporate zombies as I can find, asking them to please advertise their various self-hating, planet-flaying, kitten-kicking products and services on my weblog.
"We are souless", said M, whose sterling work on getting breast augmentation and crystal healing advertised on Facegoop has motivated me.
"Souls are expensive, M. We cannot afford that kind of luxury. So I say yes to the phone that I know nothing about on the off-chance that I can generate some money from it?"
Anyway. That wasn't the problem I had in mind. This is my problem.
It is nearly Christmas. When you have an office job at nearly Christmas it is your god given, constitutional and ECHR sanctioned RIGHT to be a bit useless and giggly for anything between a week and a month before the big day. This tradition is a cultural hangover from primary school, when, from mid-November, all efforts were directed towards covering every available surface in glitter and cotton wool balls, and rehearsing for your part as "third pine tree" in the Nativity play.
Things you have to do in an office - well, a British office - before Christmas:
1. Do all your online shopping in office hours and get it delivered to the increasingly sarcastic men in the post room.
"Parcel for you from that famous law firm "Amazon and Partners", miss".
"Er, thanks. Do you have one from, uh, Hamleys LLP?"
2. Decorate your bay, or office, with "ironic" tinsel. Drape miles of flashing fairy lights around the managing partner's office, insisting "It's CHRISTMASSY!" with an increasing note of jovial menace, if he complains. Install a dancing miniature santa with a hair trigger motion sensor in the busiest corner of the office, so that 90000 times a day the whole department can watch him gyrate lewdly to a tinny version of Jingle Bell Rock. Advent calendars are also popular and can waste up to ten minutes a day, particularly the ones with a chocolate inside.
3. Not just eat mince pies, but make a fuss about eating mince pies.
"Oooh, isn't it a bit early? Are we allowed?"
"Shall we put them in the microwave?"
"Ooooh I've got icing sugar on my tie"
"These aren't as good as Waitrose".
"I like the M&S ones with frangipane".
4. Sign 8000 company Christmas cards for all your clients. Corporate Christmas cards come in two versions: menacingly abstract - your corporate logo rendered slightly glittery on a matt black background - or distastefully jolly - your corporate logo being pulled along in a sledge by a cartoon version of the managing director in a santa suit. In either case, the slogan will be a triumph of empty non-offensiveness, like "We hope you have a prosperous winter" or "Seasonal good wishes". The subtext is as clear and glittering as the fairy lights that now festoon the managing partner's office: "Please do not succumb to the deepest recession since 1929, and continue giving us your money in 2011".
Actually, this shows how long it has been since I worked in a British office; they all do e-cards now, because of The Planet (or is it The Recession). Disappointing. How is one supposed to waste a decent amount of time with an e-card?
5. Spend a week preparing for the office party.
6. Spend a week debriefing after the office party.
7. Plot your Secret Santa gift, then resentfully conduct an in-depth inquiry to try and find out who got you the "hilarious" tube of Canesten and packet of remaindered Superdrug condoms.
Of course, it doesn't always pan out like this, and I have on occasion had to actually work at Christmas. However, the rules clearly state that if you are required to work during this unofficial extended holiday period, you are entitled to be viewed by your colleagues as a holy martyr in the league of St Stephen and brought regular offerings of Cadbury's Celebrations and mulled wine. It also entitles you to a free pass for your annual appraisal.
"I had to work at Christmas".
"Of course, we are most grateful for your efforts. Take this large bonus to tuck into your hair shirt".
What, then, does the freelancer do? I have no kitchenette to lurk in, conducting comparative mince pies taste tests. I want to sit in an overheated windowless box, staring into space and wondering how to get myself next to the hot intern on the christmas lunch table plan, to wear paper hats to five canteen Christmas lunches in two weeks, to eat Celebrations by the fistful from ten in the morning and down tools for mulled wine at regular intervals. BUT I CANNOT. On top of that, my two main "employers" (a big word, yes) are both holding their Christmas parties on 16th December when I have already arranged to be in London selling rude biscuits. It is a tragedy of epic proportions. Seasoned freelancers (that sounds wrong, like you have been sprinkled in salt and pepper) and other non-office workers. How should I make this season extra-special? Ideally this should involve no outlay greater than 20 centimes and be easily achievable by someone with the energy and motivation levels of a catatonically depressed giant panda. Go!