Absenteeism is not to be sneezed at

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The Independent Online

If your workplace was anything like ours this week, the only things being discussed (or wheezed) around the water cooler were the relative merits of paracetamol versus ibuprofen in the (frankly uphill) battle against the phalanx of ailments which have left the i newsroom resembling an episode of M*A*S*H after the Red Cross choppers have delivered their moaning cargos. All that's missing is a jaded voice on the Tannoy announcing the name of the latest journalist to drop where he or she stood. Just watch where you're stepping, that's all.

As a result, it's been sick-note central here. I'm not saying we're one or two bodies short, but the Editor has threatened to ring-fence the whole office to stop anyone else going off sick. And that's a corrugated iron fence, not a financial one. In fact, the level of absenteeism (genuine, of course – I myself was forced into the extraordinary measure of taking a phlegm day on Wednesday) has been such that I'm not even confident we'll be able to get a paper out at all. Maybe we'll manage a pamphlet, although I shouldn't be surprised if it ends up being one side of a sheet of A4. In that case, I don't flatter myself that my contribution to the editorial content will make the cut. But, then again, I'm sure that those of you who celebrate Christmas will be far too busy shopping for bath salts and Twiglets to devote even 10 minutes to perusing your favourite newspaper, so the fact that my bit is missing will probably go unnoticed.

And those of you who don't celebrate Christmas will be too sick to focus properly, so either way, I'm off the hook.