It’s Secret Santa time at The Stationery Store and Harold, the acting manager (standing in for John who is off work for the duration of the festive season due to hernia surgery), calls everyone into the office to exchange gifts. Rita, the manager’s personal assistant, brings out a bottle of cheap Cava and sets about pouring everyone thimble-sized amounts in plastic cups so they can toast one amother’s good health.
Stacey walks into the office, her impressive breasts squeezed into a tight Christmas jumper that has a Christmas pudding placed strategically over each nipple. She clocks Mick and takes up a position at the opposite end of the room (everyone knows Stacey and Mick had a clinch in the stationery cupboard at last year’s party – everyone except Mick’s wife, that is – though Stacey swears blind it’s a figment of Mick’s overactive imagination).
“So,” says Alan, the company’s resident social commentator, “which poor bastard got landed with being Santa this year?” The question is answered when a sheepish looking Ron – the gawky work experience boy with luminous ginger hair and violent acne – appears in the doorway in an ill-fitting Santa suit, holding a tatty red sack.
“Come on then,” Harold says clapping his hands together, “let’s get this over with. Time is money after all.” Alan laughs and digs Mick in the ribs. “Bedside manner’s not our Harold’s strong point is it?”
Rita hands the thimbles of fizzy wine to the assembled employees and Ron circles the room proffering his sack. When everyone has their present they open them in unison.
“Well that’s just hilarious,” Stacey scowls across the room at Mick, brandishing a pair of pink handcuffs. He shrugs.
“Ooh!” Rita squeals with overstated enthusiasm, “socks! Just what I wanted!”
“That woman’s feet haven’t seen socks since the day she was born,” says Alan. “What a bloody ridiculous present.”
“Open yours then Alan,” Rita says breezily. He obliges, holding up his Christmas tree shaped ice cube tray and grimacing.
Harold gets a comedy tie, Mick a joke anti-cheating device and Ron a tube of Clearasil.
“Well,” says Harold once all the presents have been opened, “that concludes this year’s office festivities! Merry Christmas, and get back to work!”
“Thank Christ for that,” says Alan, dropping his ice cube tray in the bin on his way out.