It is Christmas time in Central London.
Oxford Street is all tinselled up, the joy of rush hour on the tube has added EdD – Eau de damp overcoat – and a mocha is an extra £2 thanks to the addition of 1.5p of peppermint syrup. No wonder the bars are packed.
I work in a delightful little cocktail place in Soho, smack bang in creative heaven, and I'm telling you: come December, serving drinks in a tiny skirt becomes a skill beyond anything any bonus-grabbing "bawwa" (bar slang for bankerw****r) could ever achieve. This is when the holiday drinkers come out to play. Oh yes, it's the company Christmas party.
Holiday drinkers are different to the rest of us, and not only in tolerance level. The rules on how to behave at civilised watering holes seem completely foreign to them. No matter how big or small, the corporate Christmas party will always consist of the same people.
First, and always easy to pick out, The Boss. Finger-clicking for attention, as it reminds him of the golden days of imperialism, he refers to the waitress as "the girl" as he orders through his assistant (whom he will later attempt to shag in a toilet cubicle) despite "the girl's" immediate presence.
Then there is the middle-management suit who hasn't really been out since university and therefore acts like he's out on a Poundland night at the SU. After tying his tie around his head and confusing the table with the floor, he frequently has to be told that no, my behind is not included in the price.
Next up is the career mum, always starting the night by declaring loud and proud that she is only having one white wine spritzer because she has to get home in time to put William/ Alfie/Penelope to bed. Two hours later, swigging something garnished with a passion fruit, she is proudly showing her entire iPhone photo collection of the little tyke. It normally only takes another half-hour before she grabs me by the neck, whisper-spitting, "Don't ever have kids, ever. No sex, no sleep, no social life, NOTHING".
Finally there's the intern. Eager to move up in the world, this girl sees the night as an opportunity to impress the bosses. Four cocktails later she is gyrating to the Black Eyed Peas with someone from HR while a brave waitress tries to convince her to put her shoes back on again.
I never thought I would find myself missing stag dos and 18th birthday parties, yet each year as I pull confetti from my hair, mistletoe from my cleavage and reach for my after-shift GT, I find myself begging for at least a couple of L-plated Hertfordshire hens to save the day.
Sara Malm is studying Journalism and the News Industry at the University of Kent.