Friday night saw our office Christmas shindig; an evening filled with glittering A-list celebs, a gaggle of Paparazzi photographers and the wearing of only the finest in contemporary Paris fashions.
Actually, this may be an exaggeration. In truth, the evening was filled with the contradictory (almost paradoxical) marrying of my workmates and clean shirts, a few camera phones, and the wearing of only the finest in contemporary Santa hats from Poundland. But in our little sphere, its importance was right up there with the Oscars, and the party we’ll all throw on the day of Simon Cowell’s funeral.
For the night, even I had chosen to make “an effort”. Following a teabreak discussion along the lines of “we dress like slobs the rest of the year, why don’t we put suits on tonight and look like we’ve just got out of court?” I had dusted off my suit that I hadn’t worn since my job interview 18 months ago. Obviously, I would never admit to putting any weight on in the last 18-months … but I still had to go for a poo before I could even do the trousers up.
This effort in sartorial elegance had not gone unnoticed – apparently my plain shirt, plain suit and plain blue tie earned me the nickname of “Security Guard” for the whole damn night. That’s the last bloody time I try and make an effort for them and their trendy smart/casual, George-wearing ways, the young whippersnappers.
The meal was booked in a large Japanese Sushi/Tappenyaki restaurant. The plan was that we’d eat and drink there, and when the company budget for the evening ran out we’d move on to some other bars with our own money.
Now, I have a couple of qualifications in Japanese; I was taught it as a teenager, and have one or two other certificates in it from further study. It was a subject I really enjoyed, even though I only signed-up for the class because I thought it would be cool to know how to swear properly.
I have forgotten a lot of it (after all, I earnt my Japanese GCSE very nearly half-my-life ago) so I made a point of reminding myself of sensible Japanese phrases for restaurants before I left the house: “where’s the loo?”, “got any chips?” and so on.
Sadly, I had forgotten to take into account the people with whom I would be sharing a table. I am largely tea-total, and yet I seemed to end-up sat at the table of heavy drinkers. By about halfway through the meal I had composed a mental-list of phrases I wished I could say in Japanese to the staff instead.
I respectfully submit them here so that you may (perhaps) gain insight into how my evening went. If your office is planning a meal in a similar venue, you might want to get them translated into Japanese/Cantonese/Urdu/Spanish/Turkish beforehand, and then memorise.
Useful things to learn to say in another language for your next work Christmas-do:
- I know I said I could use chopsticks, but I’ve been trying to stab this spring roll for the last twenty minutes and I might die of starvation before I get any in my mouth. May I have a fork?
- I must apologise for my friend. He is quite drunk.
- What is in this bowl? It smells funny.
- There must be some misunderstanding. I’m sure he did not say “me love you long time” in a racist manner to the waitress.
- I’m afraid my friend does not eat fish. Yes, we told him weeks ago that we were coming to a Sushi restaurant.
- No matter what he says: he does not want any more Sake.
- What is the quickest way for my friend to get to the bathroo … never mind.
- I hope that was not expensive.
- Don’t worry. I’m sure he will put the chair down soon.
- I must apologise for all my friends. They are VERY drunk.
- No, this man did not intend to insult thousands of years of Japanese culture and tradition by suggesting that “all Sake tastes like dog piss”.
- Which way to the Karaoke? Lee wishes to belt out “If I Were A Boy” with much gusto.
- I am sure his belt has just snapped. He will pull his trousers up soon.
- No, you do not need to call the police. We will pay for the damages.
- I am sure you must be mistaken. No-one in our party draped noodles over that Buddha statue’s head as an attractive hairdo.
- No, I do not know any of these people. Feel free to call the police. I am leaving.
It would be sensationalist to suggest that I would have had opportunity to use all these phrases last night – and as we all know, Blogs are known for their truthfulness and honesty. Nevertheless, I shall make a point of getting them all translated before this time next year. Best to be on the safe side!
For bonus points: have a guess which expressions I would have needed to use last night.
Extra bonus points, just for my workmates who read this blog: for each apology, have a guess at to whom I may have been referring.