The five monotonous stages of Monday morning office chat

ONCE again it is Monday, as if you were not already well aware, and you must run the torturous gamut of post-weekend office chat. It will go like this:

Stage one, 9am-9.45am: talking about your weekend

You didn’t do anything interesting or fit for public consumption, so invent bland lies about drinks with friends or popping to a farmers’ market. The reality – you lay about in your pants for two days, playing violent video games, eating takeaway off your belly and browsing porn – is not suitable for the office even though it’s what everyone did really.

Stage two, 9.45am-10.30am: pretending to listen

Having rattled through your heavily redacted non-event, you’re obliged to listen to the non-events of others. It will be the same boring shit they’ve been doing for years, like visiting parents or taking children to ballet classes. Nod and smile and occasionally say ‘wow, really?’ until they’re finished.

Stage three, 10.30am-11.15am: what you’ve watched

The office chat will be under intense strain at this point. To avoid getting to know your colleagues at a deeper emotional level, move to the safe subject of telly. Who’s watched what? Who didn’t like what? Why is Amanda giving a rundown of who won on Pointless Celebrities? Still, it’s preferable to getting a glimpse into their deranged souls.

Stage four, 11.15am-12pm: brutal and intense focus on work

Pleasantries are over. It’s time to put on corporate personas for a demoralising huddle and bollocking because nobody’s hitting their KPIs this quarter. Any goodwill built up from asking how your line manager’s Sunday at a National Trust was is exhausted. Silently vow to spend the afternoon updating your LinkedIn profile.

Stage five, 12pm-onwards: “Cup of tea?”

That over, everyone sighs in relief and chat dies down to a metronomic back and forth of ‘Tea anyone?’ It’s safe. It’s inoffensive. And it makes you look efficient and productive which you really need after that meeting. The rest of the week will be occupied by chat entirely mundane. This process will be repeated unchanged every Monday for the next 20 years.

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Travis, Taylor and five other American names that aren't names

TAYLOR Swift, whose name is a surname, celebrated her Superbowl LVIII victory with boyfriend Travis Kelce, who has the same problem. These names are not names: 


The fourth most common surname in England is not, therefore, a first name. If a person was named Jones Swift you wouldn’t just accept it, so why this? It becomes ridiculous, especially when Taylor Swift dated Taylor Lautner but they inevitably split and he married Taylor Dome who took his name so now they’re both Taylor Lautner. F**k off with that.


May not be as common a surname but has none of the qualities of a first name. You can’t imagine cooing ‘I’m so glad you’re in my life, Travis,’ even though within six months there will be a song titled that. Even more confusing, Travis Kelce has an American girl’s name as his surname. Thank God he’ll never be famous over here because of his sport.


Oh to be in America and introduced to a man named ‘Carter’. Not just Carter, but something akin to ‘Carter Grawbadger III’. And to ignore all rules of polite society, because America, and say ‘What? Carter? Like Stephen Carter, from school? Who still counted on fingers aged 11 but at least got his names the right way f**king round?’


Come on. Stop pissing about. Your admittedly hot 21-year-old daughter is called Kennedy? First not a name, second not your name, third you do realise there are associations? Of heads exploding in Dallas? Of one of the greatest tragedies ever to befall your country? What’s your son called, Nine-Eleven? He is? Forget I said anything.


Or River, or Sky, or Ocean, or Summer or Autumn or January. These are not names. These are nouns. This is what a 13-year-old girl pretending to have a boyfriend claims he’s called when wildly scanning for inspiration through a bus window. What if your son wants to become a coroner? And you’ve called him Canyon?


In contrast, this is a name that should only be included as the third of four solicitors ie ‘Rayner Campbell Addison Quinn’. To give it to a child is wrong and abusive. If your daughter grows up to become an investment bank you’ve only yourself to blame. Note: Londoners may be thinking of Addison Lee. Nobody else is.


All the others at least are surnames. This one isn’t even a word. It’s a hybrid, two familiar syllables slammed together in the hope it might make sense one day, far into the future. If you are called Colton you are either the hero of a trashy romance novel – possibly a vampire, possibly a private investigator, possibly both – or do not exist. Sorry.