The Company Weekend - 2005

The time is 08:08 CET, Friday morning, precisely and I have been in the office since 07:30 - and what do you know? - There were already two other people in the office before me. Grrrrr…..

I feel the need to explain the reason why I am in work so early….just in case you think I wet the bed or something.

The reason, in fact, is two-fold:
(1) This weekend is the annual company weekend and I want to get away early because the traffic will be horrendous this evening.

(2) The whole country of Belgium is on strike today and I want to get away early because the traffic will be horrendous this evening (see point 1 for reason for wanting to get away early).

Yes it's the company weekend. Hurrraaaahhhh. 60 hours in the Belgian countryside with a bunch of IT computer geeks and their spouses and sprogs.

I can hardly contain my excitement.

Actually the place we're staying looks very nice : but I have a certain amount of trepidation when it comes to these sort of things….Perhaps if I share the agenda with you, you'll get a feel for my predicament:

check into hotel from 14:00 onwards
19:30 - evening meal
21:30 - fun quiz

07:00 - 10:00 - Breakfast
10:00 - 12:00 - Clown for the children
12:30 - Lunch
14:00 - 18:00 - Golf clinic

07:00 - 10:00 - Breakfast
11:00 - check-out of hotel room

Perhaps you're already on the same page as me but if not I'll explain further….

First of all, should I state for the record that I think it's great our employers go to this trouble every year. It can't be easy coming up with venues/ideas to try and keep employees/spouses/sprogs entertained in the middle of nowhere in Belgium for a whole weekend.

However, I feel the need to point out a few things:

The fun quiz.
The idea of a fun quiz with my colleagues quite frankly scares the shit out of me. Some might say that this is just sour grapes on my part - I have, after all, been the host of the quiz for the past two years and yet for some inexplicable reason see me being relinquished of my position this year.

Not so.

I'm actually looking forward to being on the other side of the questions - heckling the quizmaster, even though, considering that the quiz master is also my boss, this would not be the wisest of career moves. I feel that it is my God-given right to heckle after being on the receiving end of quite some abuse over the past two years.

There is, however, the small matter of the quiz being in Flemish. Whilst my Flemish ability has improved somewhat in the past year or so, I fear a situation where I will only be consulted upon by my team mates once they have exhausted all other options.

Oh how special that will make me feel.

The Clown.
Call me an old-fashioned stick in the mud or even a killjoy if you will, but I think clowns are seriously disturbed individuals.

There is something deeply suspicious about a middle-aged man covered in make up, wearing colourful clothes and playing with small children in the name of "entertainment". The fact that this will take place in the Belgian countryside only makes me even more nervous, given the country's somewhat dubious past.

Golf "Clinic"
Can somebody please inform me just what the hell this is? All I know is that I am booked in for a two hour session tomorrow afternoon.

I was not aware that my golf was in need of medical attention - especially considering that - with the exception of a couple of rounds of "Crrrrrrrazy Golf" and a session of pitch and putt in a shit-covered field among the Wicklow Hills a few years ago, my golfing experience is practically zero.

Indeed I have had more attempts at such obscure ridiculous notions as snow-boarding, white-water rafting and going sober for a weekend than I have at playing a round of golf.

There is also the fact that I as the only non-Belgian and as an Irishman I am worried that I will therefore be regarded as the golfing "expert" of the group. I just don’t know if I can live with the disappointment on all those people’s faces when they realise that I couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo, never mind an inch wide ball in a straight line for a couple of hundred yards.

The disco evening
First off – I am not a dancer. I don’t like doing it – never have done and never will. This may come as a shock to anyone who has seen me on a night, dancing on podiums, singing on stage, or doing a combination of both.

Ever since my pubescent years the word disco has always managed to instil a fear in me that not much others have. Indeed from the Allen Hall discos at the local church, where I would get my first experience of dancing with girls, to the Newtownabbey Tech discos organised at the Kilwaughter House Hotel, where I would get my first experience of under-age drinking, to every wedding disco, where I would get the repeating experience of acute embarrassment of dancing with family.

There are some things in life that are relatively easy to get over but the sight of your auntie and uncle doing the Lambada, her in her stockinged feet, him with his tie tied around his head looking like a pot-bellied Rambo is just one of those images in life that stay with you to your grave.

But surely I’m not alone when I think that a disco with colleagues must be one of the most excruciatingly embarrassing things that a person should have to face…..ever.

On top of all of this, I probably do not need to point out that this weekend is a football fest, with my wee team looking to build on their glorious humbling of the English three weeks ago, by entertaining the Welsh on Saturday.

A choice between supporting Norn Iron and taking part in a golf clinic? Well – there simply is no choice.

Throw in the fact that I have a ticket for an English speaking comedy night in The Hague and I’ve got more than enough reason to avoid clinics and discos.

Having said that, this evening could turn out a great laugh and I’ll end up staying for the weekend.

Either way, I’m sure you’ll find out how I got on.