ANOTHER year, another load of City types wistfully remembering the good old champagne-soaked extravagances of old? Well, not exactly.
Company bosses are certainly trying to give the impression of having left behind those days for good, what with all those blanket bans on corporate decorations, measly £10-a-head allowances at the likes of Royal Bank of Scotland, and so on.
But behind the scenes, it appears no corporate Scrooge can suck all the fun out of Christmas. London’s restaurants are enjoying a jump in revenues, according to the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which informs me that office party bookings are up over a third on last year – as, indeed, are sales of good old tinsel and crackers, the key to any joyous festive celebrations on a budget.
That said, it probably wouldn’t do companies any harm to lose the shroud of secrecy surrounding these things – which has got so out of hand that even the relatively low-key corporate cookery centre Venturi’s Table has had to sign confidentiality agreements for over half of all the City office parties booked with them this year.
The Square Mile may have taken a battering this year, but even the most obstinate banker-bashers shouldn’t begrudge us a bit of Christmas cheer.
Speaking of office parties, there had to be at least one City firm getting a bit too raucous on the karaoke machine, didn’t there?
This year it was the staff at financial public relations firm M:Communications, who I hear pumped themselves a bit too full of Dutch courage before taking to the microphones at their festive do.
Apparently, the Smithfield karaoke venue was so pained by M’s noisy group rendition of Queen’s classic Bohemian Rhapsody that the spinners were promptly thrown out onto the street – and this despite the fact that they counted chief operating officer Charlie Blunt, uncle to cheesy crooner James, among their number.
How very unceremonious.
Those out there gratefully wondering at our excuse to print the mood-enhancing photograph to the right of this article should head to a computer and visit Knickerpicker.com, which is currently marketing itself as a Christmas lingerie present destination with a difference.
Gentlemen unwilling to venture into the intimidating environment of a department store undies department can browse different colours, styles and brands of brassieres and matching knickers at their leisure – and even pick from five female models to demonstrate the fit of all the items on the website.
“Visitors to the site choose which size model tries on their selection and can control the model walking forward and backward, turning and, in the case of sports bras, even jogging, to ensure the most life-like online shopping experience,” remarks the site, playfully.
Well, that’s certainly one way of putting it.
My, my, but aren’t these video game companies getting creative in their attack on the City?
Word reaches The Capitalist of the latest “app” to hit iPhones all over the world courtesy of French gaming company Gameloft – entitled “Bailout Wars”.
Essentially, the name of the game is to defend the White House against reams of greedy financiers wanting to get their hands on a wad of US bailout cash, using tools such as snipers and tanks.
The bankers, for their part, are armed with helicopters, vacuum explosion devices and briefcase parachutes as they attempt to protect themselves against the mob.
Needless to say, populist gaming fans are hooked already, so let battle commence.
If bookies’ odds on the UK enjoying a white Christmas this year are looking like an increasingly good bet, how about a punt on the Thames freezing over as well?
I hear that one brave chap from the Port of London Health Authority has decided to take a gamble on it happening, despite the fact that the last time the river froze was way back in 1963.
Current odds are at 100/1, but our punter probably has a better grasp of the possibilities than most, given that he spends most of his time trawling the Thames testing the quality of the water for the City…
And finally, it’s time for The Capitalist to wish readers adieu for a while, as City A.M. prepares to take its well-earned annual festive publishing break.
We will be back with a bang on 4 January but, until then, wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.