Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 1/12/2005Goodbye, November. No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds.

Thursday 1/12/2005

Goodbye, November. No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds. But plenty of hits. Audit month is over. We won't know the final scores on the doors until ABC finishes its task of filtering out robots, spiders, employee and other non-readers from our logs, but the raw numbers stonk.

So pleased are the powers that be at our performance that we are despatched to a local restaurant at lunchtime and not expected to come back. The rest of the day is probably best kept as local lore: we shall not mention the reporter who tried to proposition a colleague, bruised a rib as they fell down the pub stairs and had to be ladled into a cab while they still had a job. Nor the other editorial member of staff who declared themselves far too drunk to carry on, only to change their mind and order two pints of lager and a quadruple scotch. I'm not sure they've been seen since.

The real trouble with the afternoon is that it changed to evening, when certain industry Christmas parties kicked off. And so it came to pass that taxi-loads of exceptionally merry ZDNet UK staff appeared at the Nokia bash: that company coped magnificently. Even when sulks ensued.

Industry Christmas party etiquette is surprisingly complex. Invites are issued with varying degrees of precision to sub-groups of hacks, with the implication that others may or may not be welcome depending on status, closeness to that particular bit of the industry or whatever. The invites are invariably RSVP. Unfortunately, just because a hack Rs doesn't mean they'll attend, and just because they don't doesn't mean they won't. Nobody wants to look like an unseasonal meanie, so most of the time if you just fetch up at a party you'll be let in, providing you're known, can be vouched for or are in some other way vaguely convincing.

As a result, party organisers know better than to expect a strong — or even mathematically significant — correspondence between the names on the list and the bodies inside. However, sometimes there is a more serious side to the RSVP: at Nokia, if you had R'd you got a rather tasty new mobile in your goodie bag. If you hadn't, you got an Advent calendar. With chocolates inside.

Had I R'd? No. Had large numbers of my friends? Yes. Are they insufferable? Yes.

Do I care? Let's leave that, and move on.

One final piece of useful information came out of the strange and bathyspheric end of the day: some among us had worried that the recent liberalisation of the licensing laws would put an end to their favourite and most inadvisable Soho drinking holes, where a final nightcap could be got well beyond the time the World Service takes over from Radio 4.

Such places still thrive.

Oh, dear.