Much as I like to rail against the fact, I am sometimes a walking PR cliché.
Clutching a large skinny latte, I rolled into the office one recent morning at 9.45am (with permission, I hasten to add: that is my boss’ idea of a very late start) to spend an unproductive day at my desk battling a monster champagne hangover following a client’s awards party the previous evening. Yes, I am duly embarrassed.
The evening had been far more fun than I’d been expecting (not saying much, given my initial expectations). Liver Bird and I had trekked out to a large country house hotel the previous afternoon, clutching party shoes and the vain hope that we’d be stuck on a semi-decent table.
Checking in with the hundreds of people apparently crucial to the running of our client’s operation, Liver Bird hissed at me as we watched women schlep large dresses up the stairs: “I’m going to be massively underdressed! Did you see her?! She’s brought a full bloody ballgown!" I maintain that this is always going to be a problem when one issues an invitation where the dress code is: Black tie / Cocktail dress / Evening dress. It serves merely to confuse, and have people turning up in everything from fairly standard LBDs to - sadly, I kid you not - something that could have passed for an attempt at a bad wedding dress.
Thankfully, LB and I had pitched it somewhere in the middle with glossy knee-length numbers and having showered and tarted up, we made our way down to the champagne reception to mingle with our client and a whole raft of people we’ve never met before and will probably never meet again. Having been told by the MD that we “must be the PRs! You look like you spend your lives drinking champagne!” (don't get me started), we took our seats at Table 2 (Manolo knows how that happened) with the CEO and a couple of the managers of the brand’s venues.
Dinner and speeches progressed in fairly standard fashion (with the exception of my presenting an award - wasn’t expecting that), and the wine was flowing as I nattered away inanely to the frankly ridiculously good-looking Irish man on my right (seriously: no one needs cheekbones like that).
After supper, Liver Bird and I escaped to the bar to be plied with much booze by Chiselled Irishman and his peers. The hours swam by, and the bubbly continued to flow freely until there were all sorts of anecdotes spilling about grandees of the British stage and screen, much laughter and rather too much flirting. Having removed Chiselled Irishman’s hand from my waist as subtly as I could muster, I motioned to LB - by this point on the dance floor with a senior director who’s paid enough to know better - that I was going to bed.
“I’ll walk you up,” a low, lilting voice said in my ear.
We wandered up a couple of flights of stairs, until we came to my door.
“Hey, I’ve had a great night.” He leant in - I assumed to kiss me on the cheek. Except that didn't seem to be what he had in mind.
It took a couple of second to process the fact that Irish’s lips were pressed against mine, and his hand had moved to the back of my neck.
"Mmph!" I said pushing him away at the chest, the champagne fuzz clearing enough to know that this was a Very Bad Idea. "No."
"But I really like you." (Ah, booze: making people say things they don't mean since time immemorial.) "Can I have your number?"
"No, really, it's..."
"Ah, no, I’m being stupid - I already have it." I had rather counted on his being drunk enough not to remember that, because I’m his press officer, he already has access to all my contact details. No such luck. With which, he kissed me on the forehead, and made his way to his room.
And so, as I sat at my desk the following day, halfway through a burrito that constituted a futile attempt to feel more human, my battle with my self-dissatisfaction seemed no more successful than that with my hangover.