At 4pm on Friday, the last day in the office for most people before Christmas, the fire alarm went off. Without having to say so out loud, everyone knew that most of us wouldn’t bother returning for half an hour’s worth of work, so we shut down our computers properly before walking down the three flights of stairs to the ground floor. Outside we stood in the cold for half a minute, looking up at the Shard, then as one mass moved to the pub and ordered twenty cups of mulled wine.
We got to talking about the best food in London. My company has small offices across the world, and a lot of British employees use their annual plane ticket back to come home for Christmas. What they were most looking forward to was eating. A Berlin-based editor was planning a pile of ‘proper’ dim sum on the weekend. A Johannesburg-based writer lovingly described the pho he’d had for lunch. Someone mentions crispy aromatic duck, and it lodged in my mind, mentally crackling.
At around 4:30 someone from another department stuck their head in the pub and gave us the all-clear, and the poor souls who still had work to do finished their drinks and pulled on scarves and coats. The rest of us pointedly waited a few minutes, luxuriating in the pre-emptive weekend atmosphere of not having to do anything, then said our goodbyes and merry Christmases and peeled away.