Secret Agent: A day in the life of an estate agent

'I would rather risk a broken coccyx than suffer the ordeal that is the christmas party'
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The Independent Online

In keeping with the season of goodwill, our company Christmas party has been cancelled. Instead, we're being asked to organise and pay for our own. I assumed this would incite everyone to throw bricks through Head Orifice's window, but not a bit of it. Like toddlers duped into believing the loaded spoon of pured turnip is an approaching aeroplane, they're all really excited. "What about a karaoke night?" my manager suggested, prompting unsavoury images of him swaying around with a microphone, slurring the wrong words to "Bat Out Of Hell".

"We could dress up as Santa and sing Christmas carols," Kelly added, seemingly not as a joke.

"Let's just go clubbing," Justin said, trying to be cool.

"I've got a good idea," Gavin squealed, "why don't we go ice-skating?"

From the flummoxed silence that followed, even Gavin could deduce that this hadn't been deemed a good idea, though I'm not sure why. I, for one, would much rather risk a broken coccyx than suffer the more painful ordeal of an estate agents' night out.

Eventually, after being threatened with a weekend trip to Blackpool, Kelly found the solution: a company hosting shared Christmas parties for small businesses. It was clearly the equivalent of an after-school club for loners, and the idea of spending an evening with other rejects who also lacked the imagination to create their own fun, was very bleak. Consequently, when it came to arranging which night to attend this social car-crash, I was glad to escape to a viewing.

"You got me a buyer yet?" the vendor shouted, ushering two small children from her car, as I waited on her doorstep in the rain.

"Expecting one any time now," I shouted back, though, in truth, anyone looking at houses in December is obviously just taking a break from Christmas shopping.

Having hung around for 20 minutes, it became clear that no one was going to turn up and I was going to have to apologise to the woman. "It's very disappointing," she said, both children scowling up at me. "We were promised a quick sale."

"Yes," I faltered, wondering how best to explain that that had been a lie. Luckily, I was interrupted by the children: "Will you come to our pantomime? I'm going to be a cow and Lily's going to be a fence."

"I'd love to," I said, rather too enthusiastically, because the next thing I knew I was being handed a ticket.

By the time I returned to our own pantomime, my manager was acting the prat. "Ready for the party of the century? Then block out next Tuesday night!"

I wearily explained that I wasn't in the party mood given what had just happened and asked him whether he thought I should attempt to get the vendor back on side by going to her kids' show.

"Definitely," he said. "When is it?"

I pulled out the ticket and pretended to study it. "Next Tuesday." Oh, what a pity.