Corporate Hospitality: Nose in the trough.

Maybe it’s my quasi-liberal bent but I can’t help noticing that the best freebies go to those who can most afford to pay full price.

In February, I accepted an invitation for a “corp-hosp”(sic) day at the rugby. From the moment I arrived until my drunken exit some eight hours later, my wallet remained firmly in my pocket while my nose was stuffed deeply in the trough.

Firstly, pretty girls in short skirts express transparently exaggerated delight that you’ve deigned to honour them with your august presence. Then you circulate amongst social climbers and crocodiles thinly disguised as sales directors. “Oh come and meet so and so, he’s right up the arse of the chief executive at BP” they say and those whose noses spend as much time in the brown as in the trough gleefully explain “I’ve been to twenty England matches and never had to pay, not bad eh old chap? Marvellous isn’t it”

No it bloody isn’t.

At£600 a ticket, I’d like to say it’s killing sport for the common man; the problem with that statement is it is clearly bollocks. The success of the team sees every ticket sold twice (mainly by rugby clubs who use it to fund initiatives such as youth rugby which somewhat deflates my argument) and the small percentage of us frauds troughing it up probably makes little or no difference.

So why do I feel so bad? It’s either pretentious introspection or half forgotten student socialism. I’m really not sure but the majority of my besuited sheep at the trough would fail the no.1 rule of “Life is too short to drink with arseholes”. Obviously I’m far too craven to say so instead satisfying myself with a working class smirk.

After drinks and a four course lunch, in what is essentially a tented double glazing showroom with outside toilets, we perambulate unsteadily towards our seats where reality bites. I’m sat next to a couple of passionate Welshman who’ve spent a good chunk of their own cash to watch their team get stuffed. They are -by degrees -macabrely amusing, incisive and gracious in defeat. Representing the English I’m proud to offer up patronisingly magnanimous, slurringly misinformed and pissed.

We retire victorious to the (free) bar back at double glazing central, for yet more drinks, deep mined bullshit and the odd comment on 80 minutes of barely sanitised violence. I may not approve on a moral level but a healthy dose of hypocrisy sees me nose down in the beer trough only occasionally surfacing for air.

There’s some desultory selling -which is of course the point of these things -but they are not really trying and that’s fine as we’re not buying. Man, we barely retain the power of speech by this time. If someone had given me something to sign, we’d probably own a thousand timeshares by now.

But I’m done with it. I know that even if it’s not me, then someone else will be filling my place. Yet by ascending to the moral high ground at least I’ll feel better while actually achieving feck all. So that’s alright then.

Well when I say I’m done with it, that actually means until the next time. But I’ll console myself that my attendance is contextualised in a post modern ironic framework. I’m a bit worried that no one will notice.

Today I’ve set my moral compass to “idealistically arsy”

4 thoughts on “Corporate Hospitality: Nose in the trough.”

  1. I was at the same match, and went away feeling vaguely disturbed. I mean, I really do LIKE rugby, honestly, but so much of it made me feel uncomfortable, from the corporate freeloaders (“great, we get free booze all day”) to the endlessly repeated Rudyard sodding Kipling.

    Two things – firstly, it’s not expensive to get shit-faced.£10 or so means you can do it courtesy of Tesco (though for£2,50 Lidl offers much the same deal, though with a rather nastier hangover). That being the case, what’s the big deal with drinking as much as you possibly can at a corporate do, when by definition you’ll be embarrasing yourself either in front of your colleagues/boss or in front of a client? Clearly if you’re the client you can get wazzed off your tits on exorbitantly-priced booze, but since you tend to get invited to these things so that the host can sell to you then you’re opening yourself up to all sorts of potential problems.

    The second thing? People ascribe all sorts of mystical properties to Rudyard’s verses; I was on a management training course at Henley the other week (of which the less said the better) where we were forced to read this, and reflect on the fact that yes, we too could be the greatest leader the world has ever seen if only we followed these easy-to-copy lines.

    Whilst yes, I can see that there’s some merit to the lines, and reluctantly conceding the fact that yes, Mr Kipling does write exceedingly good verse, I have just this to say: IT’S ONLY A SODDING POEM.

  2. Nick. You’re so right. That bloody song. It’s Jingoism dressed up as sport. I fell slightly less embaressed about singing the National Anthem and that’s saying something.

    £2.50 you say? Considering my recently disadvantaged tax position, it sounds like a Friday night investment opportunity.

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