Musty Bunches - Tales from the Spit Bucket
'Christmas is coming,' says Musty, in festive spirit with mistletoe strategically positioned. And with it, the chance to get blootered on Smirnoff Black at dodgy office parties and have extra marital relations with desperate members of the drinks trade. As the good book says, it's all about giving and receiving (Book of Diageo, Chapter IV, verse 6).
But really, at this time of year we should be caring, not cynical. We should be reflective, not triumphalist. We should spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves. Which is why Musty would like all you just-drinks.com surfers everywhere to say a little prayer for Seagram employees this Yuletide.
The poor little loves in London even had to spike their Crimbo journalists' party this year because of 'last minute cancellations'. Now Musty is as game as the next girl when it comes to putting up with five hours of corporate babble in return for a night of glamour and free booze. But the thought of all those long faces - desperately wishing it was them, and not the fat red guy, stuffing Jr's stocking this Christmas Eve, after breaking an entry into the Bronfman Xmas retreat - with only a bottle of Martell for company, was more than this sensitive soul could handle.
Still, at least Seagram tried. Neither Allied Debacle nor Diuglio are bothering at all this year, and a girl like Musty needs pampering. Would somebody please tell these besuited bean-counters that an impenetrable wall of silence is not the same as conducting PR? So Mr Bowman, Mr Walsh, stop playing so hard to get - besides, and here lies the rub of the matter, Musty has run out of vodka and, as a journalist, hardly feels that it's her place to go out and buy the stuff. That's what proles do, for goodness sake. Oh, and ex-Seagram employees, obviously.
Coke. It's the real thing. Unless of course, you're one of the ubiquitous sugar-water producer's black employees when a college education and twenty years of loyal service might see you rise to the dizzy heights of office cleaner. Or possibly some marketing director's novelty hearth-rug.
Many of Coca Cola's management team were, apparently, surprised when they lost a lawsuit earlier this year, forcing them to pay compensation to hundreds of their black workers for discrimination.
At the recent giant Interbev exhibition in New Orleans, Musty was interested to see that Coke had taken the findings of the court case to heart and was evidently making a big effort to redress the balance. After their Coca-Cola Enterprises' COO had given a rousing talk on how 'it's all about people' (Yawn), on came, and wait for it… a choir of black children to give an equally rousing rendition of a few gospel classics. As if this appallingly ham-fisted paeon to bad taste were not enough, the COO even started to join in! Presumably to prove that an ivy league education ain't no barrier when it comes to hangin' wit' da homeys.
For those who think Musty is being a little cynical and that the whole thing sounds really rather sweet, perhaps you should consider the following. The answer to combating racial prejudice at work is hardly to bring on a novelty act and say 'Woncha just look at all these coloured people. Boy, do they make good entertainers! Must be the natural rhythm.'
Meanwhile, just across the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba is still recovering from the influx of 200 of the world's finest barmen, competing for first prize in the Havana Club Cocktail Competition. The equation of Journalists + Barmen + Cheap Booze doesn't need much working out, though Musty was impressed with the organisers' attempt to reduce the numbers and the cost of flights home by decanting the guests onto a train at 9 in the morning, forcing rum down their necks for four hours, then letting them loose with machetes on a field full of sugar cane.
Surprisingly, no-one was killed, or even maimed, and the Italians still had enough brio left to try cheating in the competition later on. Plus ca change…
Back with a festive theme. Musty believes, incidentally, that she may have unmasked the identity of The Grinch. There is, in fact, not one, but two of them - and if you look carefully round the just-drinks.com website, there's a good chance that you'll find them.
They may not be green and furry, but these santa-hatted critters sure look as though they've lost a bottle of Krug and found a bottle of Asti. Festive spirit? Bah humbug!
Which reminds Musty of a little seasonal homily that all those CEOs of drinks multinationals ought to remember this Christmas.
It might look cute and cuddly now, but winter's centre of attention is old news by summer - and it will need love, attention and lots of money to keep it alive. Always.
Are you ready for that responsibility? If you've answered 'yes' and mean it, then go ahead.
But remember Mr Bowman: A Champagne brand is for life, not just for Christmas.
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