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Oh-Christ! mas Party
Hello, and welcome my faithful Carmites to 2012. The year of The Apocalypse apparently (or rather another year of one – they seem to rear their heads, gnash their teeth and snort clouds of brimstone every so often, only to then slink back into their caves when nobody is looking).
And apocalypses (apocalypi?) is the subject of this blog. No, not Carpocalypse Now (one of Nobby's more penis-wincingly painful puns), but a much more spectacular cosmic event: The Stainless Christmas party.
For 17 years now, local pub landlords have lain awake at night fearing that this year, this terrible, terrible year, their pub will be chosen....
That's Nazbeen, (wife of Rohan, one of our programmers) back in 2009, throwing her pint at me. As you do.
But it all started in the Hog's Head, way back in the mid-to-late-90s. Food fights were of course the norm, and the landlord there was actually cool with it – even when he was serving soup to another table and a bread roll projectile landed in said soup, splashing it all over the innocent diners. But the food fights got worse and worse, until one year you could literally not see any clear floor afterwards.
We knew it had got bad when when Nobby's missus Pauline turned up in a full sou'wester, sat down, and zipped it up until she looked like Kenny.
That year the staff had a meeting the next day and voted whether to meter out life bans for the entire company (and probably its descendents for the next five generations). The ballot went in our favour by a single vote. Why? Well because we tip like mother-fuckers. Even back then when we were tiny, we'd still give them a £250 tip. Let's face it: the poor cunts earned it...
Soon though, food became boring, and we learned that if you rolled a napkin into a cylinder and dipped it in your beer so that one end was sodden, you could then light the other end and throw it like a meteor. Cool! Or not actually, if it hit you.
Various table fires later, we stopped using The Hogs, and one year found ourselves at the Woodvale in Gurnard. A sleepy little place, with a function room upstairs. The landlord didn't seem to take very kindly to me nipping into the bogs and filling up balloons of water and throwing them across the room. He actually threatened to throw me out of the window, which given that we were on the first floor (that's upstairs to you Yanks for fuck's sake) sounded a bit extreme. I think he meant it too...
Fast forward a few years to our office before last. By this time, we'd installed ourselves at the Bargeman's Rest for the meal. Yes, food – and beer – was going to fly as it always did, but again, we tipped them like lottery winning monks. And the two grand bar bill is a good start anyway.
This year (about five years ago) was the start of the annual "Destroy what's died during the year" festival. Yes, OK, we need a better name for it really, don't we?
It all started with a microwave… (This is where the web-page should detect where your eyes are looking and go all misty and wonky like wot they did in cheap BBC sit-coms in the 70s.)
I put an e-mail around work that day asking for suggestions as to how to go back to the office after the pub and destroy the condemned white good in the most imaginative way possible. I got a few predictable replies, and then thought little more of it.
So, when walking back from the pub at midnight, I was reminded of it by a certain individual visiting from Ze Mainland, whose identity I will protect. Otherwise he will shoot me. You see, he said "Well then, what about that microwave?" as we passed his car parked outside of his hotel. At that point he popped his boot ('trunk', OK, if you're a Yank? Jesus, it's our bloody language, give us it back!), and produced a double-barrelled 12-bore shotgun and a box of shells.
OK, this is more like it.
Our offices, like now, are slap-bang in the middle of a busy High St (Oh for God's sake... MAIN STREET! Bloody colonials!). And of course it being Christmas, the plod (COPS!!!!) were cruising up and down constantly, watching out for drunken revellers. Or mad games industry veterans brandishing shotguns. But nobody noticed and we went back to the office. The Microwave was filled with spray mount and other aerosols, dead CDs, a light-bulb or two, and anything else what might go BANG. It still had just enough life left in its internals to inject some high-frequency energy into its contents.
Before long, it was burning nicely, so <name removed to prevent me being shot> handed the gun to my lovely wife, and said "There you go, give it both barrels".
So she did. Shot a burning microwave with a shotgun, in the middle of a busy town. Here's what it looked like the morning after:
She only just hit it, didn't she? Well, she was absolutely pissed out of her fucking mind at the time, so you have to let her off. Worryingly though, just after she fired, Will (an artist of ill repute) came sauntering around the corner with a fag (look, if you don't understand, just swim the fucking Atlantic and come over here and we'll explain, OK?) in his hand, wondering what the bang was. A few seconds earlier, and he would have been smoking in quite a different way...
Anyway, we all scarpered, expecting blue flashing lights and gun squads to rain down on us. The sight of <Name Removed Man> running down Newport High Street in front of all the CCTV cameras with a smoking shotgun in his hand will forever stay with me.
We regrouped and then came ambling innocently back up the street, hoping to observe the full power of the law as innocent spectators. But you know what? Not a sausage. Cops everywhere and two shots ring out in the centre of town. Did they do anything? Did they fuck. Ironic really when you consider what happened in future years, as I shall explain....
Expansion, and a new office. What does expansion mean? No it doesn't mean an erect penis. Well OK then, it does mean an erect penis, but it also means something else. It means lots more equipment to go wrong, doesn't it? The new office has a lounge downstairs (a lounge that will later be a very sad victim, as you will see). So everybody is down there, partying after the pub. It also has a stairwell. What do stairwells have? They have gravity, don't they?
I can't remember what went down first, but before long, I was trawling the building, looking for defunct, faulty, or just a big ugly equipment, which with to conduct thoroughly scientific experiments on the effects of the Earth's gravitation field. Especially when aided with a shove.
Of course as soon as I started, other people got a twinkle in their eye and realised that "OK, anything goes, does it?!"
So, the experimentation continued, until I realised that as we had just finished-up Red Baron on PS3, we really needed to experiment on the suitability of 42" Plasma TVs as aerofoil-section wings. Amazingly, I can confirm that they work! They really do fly!
Fucking thing wouldn't break though, despite dropping two flights of stairs. So we had to drag it all the way back up and do it again. And again. And then repeatedly jump on it.
Eventually it succumbed, presumably filling our lungs with plasma or something.
Then it escalated. No really, it did. The crowning glory was the dishwasher, which I have to admit was still 100% functional (was being the operative word):
It was also still plumbed in. And permanently wired-in. A firm yank (no, not an American with an erect penis) soon sorted that out though. Funniest thing was that until it impacted with the foot of the stairs and split open, I didn't realise it was full of crockery and glasses. I wondered why it weighed so much....
The final death-toll was spectacular. The bottom of the stairwell was filled above waist-height with debris – a killing field of electric death.
During the next year, we redecorated the stairwell – well we had to, as various large and heavy items had gouged out not only chunks of the wall, but entire treads of the stairs had succumbed to TVs and kitchen appliances as they bounced on their way down.
So we didn't want to spoil the new paint. So (impromptu still, unlike the last few years), we (well OK then, me) ran around to the fire escape in order to determine the differences between the gravity field there and the one in the stairwell.
To our great surprise, we found that gravity went down there as well! But just to be really sure, we kept checking, as more and more equipment learned that it couldn't fly, and the car park learned that somebody up above hated it.
Back into the kitchen, I grabbed Ben's fucking singing Christmas tree that had been winding me up for the last couple of weeks and decided to see how long the cunt would keep singing when shoved in the microwave. The answer, I can confirm dear friends, is about ten milliseconds. However just to make really sure, we left it in there for long enough to make sure that it caught fire.
Problem is of course, the microwave now stank of melting plastic and tortured PCB. Only one solution, eh? Throw the bastard out of the window!
Notice how I called out first to make sure that nobody was below? Unfortunately I didn't actually wait long enough for anybody to clock what was happening and move out of the way though…
I then grabbed the nearest monitor and ran to the window in a fit of screaming adrenaline-fuelled vandalism and…..
…oh sweaty arseholes – fucking thing was too big to fit out of the window! Talk about deflating the moment.
But this meant that the management had officially signed the death warrant for all white goods in that kitchen, so Dan and co. decided to uphold the Stainless tradition of parabolic dishwasher ballistics:
Then it was the turn of the bloody singing Santa that Ben had on his desk. Back to the window, and it was soon on fire. Unfortunately however, by this time the police had received reports of "A riot going on", and came screeching around the corner in four separate vehicles, piling out like Keystone Cocks. Bad timing – the Santa was well alight by then, and I was still holding it. I had two options: catch fire, or throw a burning object at some policemen. So I chose the latter.
It landed on top of the cop van, still on fire. Amazingly, none of them noticed! I guess it helped that I was 30 foot up and they weren't looking up.
After some drunken negotiation with the cops, they actually bought my protestations of "Look officer, I'm just throwing my equipment, out of my window, into my car park". I couldn't believe it – and neither could some of the officers in the background (their silent faces said "What?! You're letting him get away with this?!" as they stared at the back of their superior officer's head). He ended-up saying "Look mate, next time, just call us and warn us first, eh?".
So we waiting until all the cops scampered off back into their cop-holes. And then set fire to everything…
The next year, we were good little boys, and, just as we were asked, we called the cops first (well, poor old Mariella had the job of doing so), but of course it escalated. This time the pile of smashed equipment was even bigger – large thanks to my having learned how to solve the problem of monitors and window-aperture size: use the fire escape for everything!
Yes, Jim, I can confirm that this direction is definitely the one they refer to as 'down'. Off you go son:
And of course, no Stainless Christmas party would be complete without the dishwasher enjoying carnal relations with terra firma:
The only good Christmas tree is a burning one:
That year the madness crept inside of the office as well though. Well OK then, 'crept' isn't the right word – not unless an express train can creep into a school bus parked across its tracks.
Here's Will and I using stools as axes to destroy a TV set:
What, you mean you don't use them for that? We think it's perfectly normal down here on the Isle of Wight, as our banjos are too fragile and won't do the job.
And for your delectation and delight, here is a montage:
That one was BIG clean-up operation!
Fortunately though, we had not yet climbed the summit of Stainless party violence. We hit that last year – 2010…
It says it all that I came to work that day in my truck, complete with brooms, shovels, and welding gloves in the back. It was almost as if I knew something was going to go down…
This time, the microwave was outside, on fire, and full of gas canisters. As you will see in the footage, the explosion was quite large. The fireball rose above the roofs of nearby shops and houses. Sam was lucky that year. In her drunken state she went over to the microwave after the big bang to warm her frozen hands (it had just started snowing). Didn't she remember the public safety short films? NEVER RETURN TO AN EXPLODED MICROWAVE! I dived across and yanked her out the way – and seconds later the microwave exploded again as the next gas canister exceeded its design limits. Well that would have been irritating – we would have needed to recruit another artist onto Carma. Didn't the stupid bitch realise how much hassle that would have been? Jeez!
But that was nothing to compared to what went on inside. The food fight started quite soon, so I went around the building with bucket, collecting all the Christmas tree decorations to use as ammo. Baubles make excellent grenades you know! I did draw blood once though when one hit Si smack in the forehead.
Then people started dancing on the pool table (fair enough):
But then somebody was stupid enough to say "mind the ceiling" or words to that affect. This is my problem you see – bulls, red rags, that sort of thing. So I started on the ceiling.
Before long, the whole lot had come down, complete with all the electrical wiring, many sparks, alarms going off, and a complete blackout.
Look at this footage. It was a classic:
So, 2011 approached, and people started saying to me "Look, this is getting worse and worse, somebody is going to get hurt!". So I went all sensible. Here is the actual e-mail that went out to all Stainless staff last December:
"At the risk of sounding like I've got old and boring (when in fact I've got old, but definitely not boring...), we.... well, OK then, I.... do need to rein it in a bit this year.
We (well, OK then, I...) can't keep getting madder and madder every year. For a start look at the lounge - it's still not sorted out, and nobody really uses it any more.
Also, we've run out of CRTs to throw off the roof!
Most importantly though, somebody *is* going to get hurt - probably seriously. Sam could have been killed or at least maimed for life last year had I not pulled her away from the burning microwave just before the second cataclysmic explosion. And how somebody hasn't had a monitor through the cranium from 25feet up, I really don't know.
It (OK then, I) also spoils it for the majority of people, who aren't up for such epic levels of mayhem. Well, it's probably only *just* a majority, to be honest, but still! People should feel able to come back to the post-pub party without fearing for their lives.
So, this year, we (OK then, I) should try to keep it down to non-destructive fun. Otherwise where is it going to end? Probably in court - quite possibly a coroner's one...."
So, what happened this year?
Bugger. How did that happen? Right! WHO STARTED IT?! Oh fuck, it was me, wasn't it? I remember a very pissed Matt Ibbs repeatedly shouting at me "You promised you wouldn't do this!". Well, a leopard can't change his spots, as they say, and a programmer can't rewire his neurons. Mine just seem to be hard-wired for destruction.
Anyway, inevitably the police turned-up – of course – and Ben had a nice little chat with them, and promised that it would all be calmed down.
So we waiting until all the cops scampered off back into their cop-holes. And then set fire to everything… errrr, hang on, I'm sure I've written that once before, haven't I?!
To our great shame, nobody was then filming when the whole damned lot caught fire. That was sort of OK, but I guess the burning embers landing on the roofs and cars of neighbouring houses and businesses, was sort of asking for trouble really.
So, back come the old bill, and then time they were apoplectic with rage. I think if they'd been vibrating any faster they would have exploded like a scene from Scanners. They were all talking into their shoulder radios like cops do, looking like parrots trying to eat a sesame seed that somebody's glued to their feathers.
So I was summoned to talk to them. Why me for fuck's sake? Hey, let's go get the boss, he's the sensible one! Right…..
They were adamant about shutting us down, kicking us out, and maybe even making a few arrests. But what followed was a piece of diplomacy by Ben and I that would have been worthy of the United Nations managing to persuade Palestine to change their national dress to that of the orthodox Jew. We somehow manage to negotiate an hour's extension before they wound us down, which was particularly hilarious as they said to Ben "We can see you are sober sir". The bloke was utterly fucking arseholed. Amazing how talking to a man with a tit on his head can temporarily sober you up, eh? Particularly surreal when the conversation is taking place stood amongst smouldering wreckage and broken glass.
Inside it was perfectly sane though. Look, here's a couple of programmers having a nice chat on the sofa:
Oh no, hang on, that's a ball gag with a penis attachment that Brian is holding, isn't it? I can only dream of what Derek must be saying to him, but I suspect it involves the words "You", "ain't", "that", and "shoving".
Anyway, that's the story of Stainless Christmas parties so far. What will happen this year? Will I manage to actually be sensible? We will get arrested? Will the office burn down? Will the "Isle of Wight Christmas riots of 2012" go down in national history and be taught in schools as a parable of what happens when society breaks down? Lord of the Flies? Well I don't know about Lords, but monitors and dishwashers certainly do….
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