The highs and lows of an office tea club

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The Tea Towel Rota

It’s Monday morning, and the conversation by the kettle (we don’t have a water cooler so the kettle acts as a substitute), has turned to the state of the tea towels.  Not for us a feisty discussion about whether Oscar Pistorius is guilty or not, nor idle gossip considering if our ready meals contain animal, vegetable or mineral.  The most important topic is why the tea towels weren’t washed at the weekend.

Jill is nominally in charge of the tea-towel washing rota, and uses the same list as for the subs she doesn’t collect from us.  The idea is that each person in turn takes home the tea towels on a Friday and returns them freshly laundered on Monday morning.  It would appear to be a simple system.

In life though, and in the tea club nothing is ever that simple.  The flaw is that this modus operandi assumes that the person on the list is present in the office on their identified Friday, and again on the Monday morning.  There is no consideration of annual leave, part-time working, people working off site or any other reason that they may not be in the office on Friday to take the tea towels home even if they wanted to.  Nor is there any way to ensure that the tea towels get returned after the weekend.

Well who was supposed to do it? complained the parade of PAs who had discovered the crime.  It turned out that the Finance Director was next on the list.  This was never going to work.  He was at a regional meeting on Friday and doesn’t actually know where the kitchen is anyway.  It is hardly a surprise that he didn’t the tea towels home in his brief case.  It also turns out that they weren’t washed the week before either.  That was because the nominated washee was er Jill.  Who only works Wednesdays.  And who set the system up.

Perhaps inevitably, nobody has identified a better system.  They are too busy grumbling about the existing one.  And we still have dirty tea-towels.


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Working From Home

Today is a working from home day.  The coffee is wonderful,  the kitchen is clean and no one is having a tantrum, or at least not anyone over the age of three…  However it is important that homeworkers don’t get too carried away doing actual work when they have escaped from the office zoo for a day.  Regular distractions are provided by email and phone, to prevent you from concentrating on the report you took home to complete.

Todays daft email gems involve birthday cakes being left in the kitchen, a lost pair of glasses, and the regular fire alarm test being cancelled.  As if you care.  Then there are the phone calls; the mundane – where is the blah blah policy? to the ridiculous.  Can you just update the completely fucking pointless report by close of play? you only need to do your  bit of it.  Absolutely bloody fantastic if “your bit” of the report happens to be 25 pages long.

And what is with close of play anyway? What kind of moron uses phrases like that.  And you know, you just know, that after have busted your guts to complete the sodding report on time, in the full knowledge that you will now be doing the work you had planned for today on Sunday instead, nobody, but nobody will read it. And you could have done it on Monday.



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Love and Marriage

Well Mr Jacs (my Rob) must have done something right for Valentines Day.  Our Jacs is positively wreathed in smiles.  She has also been making a point of warning everyone she sees  that “she” is in a real sulk this morning.  Unfortunately she doesn’t make it clear who “she” is so we are all left to guess.

Apart from that Valentines seems to have passed most folk by, though Keith in finance was overheard making several phone calls to try to find a restaurant that wasn’t fully booked, and the Chairman arrived for the board meeting and loudly declared that he hoped that the agenda wasn’t too long, because he was taking Mrs Chairman out for the evening.  Perhaps Keith could take home the left over sandwiches and suggest a romantic picnic….

The mystery sulkee hasn’t been identified, but the cause of Jacqui’s happiness has.  She was seen to be looking at Mother of the Bride outfits online, and it seems that her daughter’s Boyfriend is planning to propose this evening.  Being a nice lad he asked My Rob for permission, and he let on to her this morning.  Cue beaming smiles. From Jacqui.  The rest of us are wondering how long we will have to endure all the details. Still at least the matter of the dirty Kitchen  has been forgotten.  For now.



Photo credit: Sean Molin Photography / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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Do you know what day it is tomorrow?

There is little love lost in Teaclub 925 today.  Jacqui still has the hump, because no one has followed her instructions to put their name on their food in the fridge and so there is unclaimed salad dressing, cream cheese and three half used tubs of low fat spread that are still just loitering, much to Jacqui’s chagrin.  She is promising to throw them away by the end of the day unless they are claimed.  Brave Katie from the governance team suggested that they might belong to people who weren’t in yesterday and so don’t yet know of Queen Jacqui’s requirement to label everything.  Alas her intervention was in vain.  “I don’t believe that”, harrumphed Jacqui “I’m sure that salad dressing is Claire’s and she was in”.

Meanwhile Viv who went to M&S at lunchtime to select a Valentine’s supper for her and her boyfriend tomorrow night is growing nervous that her carefully selected purchases will be thrown away by a rampaging Jacqui.  Consequently she has labelled every item, the bag her food is in, and put a big note on the front of the fridge making it clear that her food is NOT TO BE THROWN AWAY.

“I’m not that bloody stupid”, Jacqui said testily when she saw the note.  “And she had better take that lot home with her tonight, we need the space for sandwiches for the board meeting tomorrow”.

Well obviously she is going to take her food home.  That’s why she bought it.  Please let interflora deliver something appropriately impressive to Jacs before work tomorrow.  Or we will all suffer the consequences.

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The Pancake Race

Our annual charity pancake race took place at lunchtime. Competitors have to run from the main entrance to the cafe, flipping their pancakes at least 5 times along the way. Time penalties are added on for under-flipping, or dropping the pancake.

Irritatingly, Pete the sleaze, finds the event is an excuse to bring out his repertoire of tosser jokes. These comments about the biggest tosser, or who can have the quickest toss, would have shamed Bernard Manning in 1973, but of course that doesn’t stop Pete repeating them every year.

Most of the women conveniently forget about the race and arrive for work in tight skirts and high heels. “I would take part but I can’t, not in these shoes”, they wail.   As there is still snow on the ground, this excuse is pretty see through.  These dollies usually use bad weather as a pretext to come to work in Ugg boots, so it is a surprise to see them in heels.  The men, on the other hand, are equally transparent.  They pretend to have forgotten all about it, but just happen to have their trainers and gym kit with them….

Of course the real purpose of the race is to eat lots of pancakes raise money for the local hospice, and so while them men limber up for the race, Jacqui organises the sale of pancakes.  This would have gone better if fewer people had gone to the café for coffee and a toasted teacake during the morning’s tantrum.

The race got underway, and despite cheating, by joggling some of the other competitors mid-toss so that they dropped their pancakes, Keith from finance was declared the winner.

We raised £148 and 50p for the local hospice from the sale of pancakes. And Pete is still a tosser.

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Jaqui and that’s Jacqui, not Jackie and definitely not Jacky, is the real queen of the kitchen.  She used to be the PA to one of the Directors, but then her Director lost her job in the last restructure and Jacqui became part of the general admin team.  She has had a chip on her shoulder ever since.  Very efficient and effective when she wants to be she is also abominably obstructive and lazy when she doesn’t.

Jacqui has an annual temper tantrum about the state of the kitchen at least every 3 months.  And today is one of those days.  The eruption occurred early this morning, when she couldn’t find any room in the fridge for the pancakes for the lunchtime pancake race.  Her massive bosom heaved as she emptied the fridge of its contents, binning everything not in date, and she became increasingly red in the face as everyone fled the scene, suddenly needing a “nice coffee from the café”.

The email followed, as we all knew it would, berating everyone for being so disgusting as to leave mouldy food in the fridge, dirty tea-cups in the sink, and overflowing and unwashed recycling in the corner.   The fact that we all know she is right (we work for a healthcare organisation after all), and the kitchen is truly disgusting at times, doesn’t stop us grumbling about being told off.

Just who the hell does she think she is?

athenamat / Food Photos / CC BY-NC

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She who runs the tea club

Tea club 925 is operated by Jill; a well-dressed, glamorous granny with platinum blonde hair and a penchant for Debenham’s cruise wear.  She joined the organisation many years ago, and has survived countless reorganisations, mainly because no one is sure what she actually does.  What ever it is, she only does it on Wednesdays anyway as the rest of the week she is busy having lunch.

Kindly Jill, started work as a shorthand typist and isn’t keen on computers.  She has a basic grasp of word, as long as it doesn’t involve anything hard, like tables, and won’t touch excel.  This means that the tea club list, is carefully drawn with multi-coloured biro pens each month before being stuck up in the kitchen and covered in tippex.

Richard Cocks / Foter.com / CC BY

Fortunately Jill has mastered email, so long as someone else prepares the distribution list for her, and so having completed the herculean task of drawing up the month’s list, she is able to email her colleagues and ask for their subs.  Then she goes for lunch.

You may of course have spotted a tiny flaw in this system.  No sensible Tea-club would be run by someone who only works one day a week, and hasn’t got a clue who anyone in the office is anyway.  Nor will you be surprised to learn that Jill isn’t actually very good at collecting money.  Or buying tea.  Or coffee.  Or sugar…Oh you get the picture.

Nonetheless, the Tea club remains dear to Jill’s heart and she believes that this makes her important.  When new people are introduced to members of the team, most people say something like “I’m head of paperclips or widgets” or” I work for Bill who works for Ben” .  Not Jill. She proudly tells people that she runs the tea club.   Except that she doesn’t.  Jacqui does.