24 December 2009

and to all a good night

The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind, as is the norm this time of year. Although I am retired/self-employed/chronically-underemployed/a-bit-of-a-grumpy-waster I still seem to be invited to a lot of Christmas parties, despite my lack of a) a company that I work for to sponsor such festivities or b) friends that still find my overwhelming absence of optimism and good cheer about current national political and economic events endearing.

Within the last two days alone I have been to three separate get-togethers which is just about at the limit of my current social skills. All three events surprisingly were a mixture of good friends I see regularly, friends I haven't seen for a while, folks I used to work with and complete strangers that I fear will mistake my unique display of Christmas cheer and goodwill to all humbugs as a plaintive cry for help and attempt to hug me while simultaneously calling social services. These parties make for interesting Venn diagrams.

There also comes the dreaded and inevitable ice-breaking question of "so, what do you do/are you doing/have you been doing for a living?". In the past I have said that I am retired (but not in the replicant sense of the word), taking a career break, working on some exciting new projects that are really just about to take off and my favourite, 5-to-10 for aggravated assault at a Christmas party with a cheese log. You can almost hear the touchtones as they speed-dial social services, can't you?

This year I gave up and just went with, "I'm standing on Grafton Street with a giant foam leprechaun head on, waving at tourists. The hours are rough, but I'm my own boss and the pay is all in cash". Again with the speed-dialing. But still easier than the real answer which is "attempting to incite social revolution, albeit somewhat haphazardly".

So, with my real mission in mind I set about planting the seeds of change in the minds of those around me, a process best conducted before you all hit Eddie Rockets at 4am when your elevator pitching skills will be somewhat less than then optimal. Conversations ranged from my cunning plan to revitalize the Irish Sugar Beet industry with a board member of a major agribusiness group (partial success, he nodded at the right moments, asked interesting follow-up questions and will no doubt steal my idea and then claim never to have met me*) to a proposal to establish a crowd-sourced social entrepreneurial fund (mixed success, regional head of US Internet Giant A loved it, we're meeting to discuss it in the new year; regional head of US Internet Giant B couldn't understand why anyone would just give money away, he will be meeting with three ghosts later on this evening). Not bad for a guy who spends his days wearing a foam leprechaun head**.

While none of these ideas are as radical or as potentially effective as sharpening a few sticks on both ends outside the Dail, you need to tailor your message to suit your audience.

Now with my tolerance for dealing with the Other at dangerously low levels, and my communicative and other associated verbal interaction skills operating solely on impulse engines, I am off to spend the next thirty or so hours in the company of my family. While this may seem idyllic to some of you, it must be pointed out that my good grace, enthusiasm for festive cheer and social cohesion abilities are all genetic traits in my family, and dominant ones at that.

Happy Christmas everyone!

* technically this is in fact the Very Understanding Girlfriend's cunning plan, but then again, I have never met this woman before in my life your honour.

** At no time has Unkie Dave ever worn a foam leprechaun head for a living. It is purely an occasional hobby.

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