One December, a friend's office Christmas lunch was booked at a central London hotel. There was great excitement all morning. Colleagues put on party frocks and snowman jerseys. The occasion promised unlimited sparkling wine, food and an afternoon off work. But on arrival she found a Christmas party industrial complex. The banqueting hall was set for hundreds of Christmas lunches for staff parties from many companies. The turkey, sausages and roast potatoes were served from an assembly line, slopped out by bored kitchen staff who had seen it all before, and were about to see it all again. As she ate her pale lunch, she was struck by how boring the conversation was. So she topped up her glass, then had another. When the meal was over, everyone exchanged Secret Santa gifts. Hers was junk. Then she watched as a colleague discarded her carefully chosen present. A moment of clarity struck: I need to leave the company, she thought. And so in the new year she did just that. My friend had b...

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