Fire drills, and other brilliant disruptions to the office day

THERE’S nothing more magical than an unexpected event bringing your office to a standstill. Here are some distractions from work you pretend to hate but actual revel in.

Fire drill

Someone might spill coffee on themselves if they jump at the deafening alarm, which is hilarious. Then, as everyone pretends to be annoyed while secretly being terrified they’re about to burn to death, you get a lovely trip into the fresh air, and a nosy at everyone else who works in the building. A perfect double feature.

Wifi outage

The perfect excuse to do nothing without even having to pretend to look busy. Practise for the Oscar you’ll get one day by saying how much you were looking forward to this afternoon’s back-to-back meetings. Be sure to leave to ‘work from home for the rest of the day’ before some IT creep fixes it.

First aid training

You’re a hero, not unlike Batman, for jumping at the chance to get defibrillator certified. Potentially saving a life one day will feel almost as good as the extra hour for lunch you got so you could sit in the training seminar. 

Global event

Establish yourself as someone with a deep interest in international news. This way any big BBC news story is the perfect excuse for at least ten minutes of noble thinking. Say superficially intelligent but actually vacuous things like ‘The question is whether this will strengthen or weaken Putin’ when really you’re thinking: ‘How long can I spin this out to avoid work?’

Emergency vehicle

It doesn’t matter which one, seeing some sirens on the street outside is a valid excuse to investigate. For the safety of your coworkers, of course. You’ll be able to provide critical updates, eg. ‘It’s definitely an ambulance’ and ‘I think they’re leaving.’


Not the most time-inefficient distraction, but you can still milk it. Get everyone involved in a big chat about how it had been really humid today, or make them count the seconds between the lightning and the thunder clap. Don’t mention there is zero danger in a modern office building unless you go onto the roof and fly a kite connected to a copper wire. Although you would consider doing this if it meant a 20-minute skive.

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Seven Nation Army, and other songs ruined by being sung at football matches

EVER loved a song until you heard it being murdered by 10,000 pissed-up football fans? They’ve probably ruined these others for you too:

Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

The distinctive riff of The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army is very simple, which makes it easy for legions of lager-fuelled football fans to bellow out. It’s popular throughout the world, with many different clubs and countries singing it, meaning you can hear your once-favourite indie hit being ripped to shreds at pretty much any match that happens to be on telly.

Sunshine on Leith – The Proclaimers

This song is a horrible dirge when performed by professional musicians, so by the time it’s been mangled by thousands of maudlin Hibs fans in an echoey stadium it sounds absolutely dreadful. It’s sung whether they win or lose, so it can’t be avoided by supporters of the opposing team whatever the result. The poor bastards. They’d probably rather have flares fired at them.

Go West – Pet Shop Boys

Given the problem football has with homophobia it seems unlikely that a song performed by two of the gayest bands the world has ever seen – the Village People and the Pet Shop Boys – has become such a famous chant. Yes, the fans changed the words to ‘One nil to the Arsenal’, but you’d think the average terrace lurker would be too worried about being called a ‘poof’ to dare to sing along.

Simply The Best – Tina Turner

Simply The Best is possibly the most mindlessly obvious song choice for your team, but football fans weren’t exactly going to sift through Everything but the Girl’s back catalogue for inspiration. Yelling one of Tina Turner’s worst songs at every match because the BBC once used it in a highlights package is about as imaginative and thoughtful as Glasgow Rangers fans get.

Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

Sweet F**king Caroline, as it should be retitled, is now sung at every England game, and even the women’s team are unable to escape it. It has no connection to football, and the first time it was played at a sporting event was during a Boston Red Sox baseball game, but it’s now ubiquitous at matches and we will all be miserably hearing it for the rest of our lives. Neil Diamond is probably sick of it too, but at least he gets royalties from the increased airplay.