Friday work drinks are overrated, bring back Golden Time

It was the best time of the entire week

There was a time in your life when every Friday was an event. You’d think about it all week and spend every lunchtime discussing plans with your friends. It was a chance to forget about all the work you’d been doing and the official beginning to the weekend. I’m talking, of course, about Golden Time.

If your primary school didn’t have Golden Time then none of this is probably going to make much sense to you. The best you can do is find a friend and get them to explain it to you – just be prepared for the fact your childhood will seem sadder and emptier once you realise what you were missing. For a short while every Friday afternoon, you were able to swap school work for toys, games, music and dancing. It was like having a friend come over after school multiplied by 30.

You'd be mentally counting down to Golden Time every Friday

You’d be mentally counting down to Golden Time every Friday

Fast forward many years and look at how we spend our Friday afternoons now. Sure, everyone in the office is a bit more relaxed (you might even be allowed to dress smart casual) but when you’re stood in the street outside a packed city boozer – cigarette in one hand, drink in the other – are you really having fun? Just think about how much better your Fridays could be instead.

You’d actually be excited about Golden Time

By contrast, nobody gets excited about work drinks. Even when it’s your birthday or leaving do, work drinks have an element of obligation to them. At best, they’re a resigned shrug at the end of an exhausting week of work, not the jubilant celebration Golden Time could be. On a Thursday night you’d be planning what new toy to take in or who you’d play with. Nobody has ever put that much thought into which glass of wine they’ll sip before jumping on the tube home.

Golden Time was about finding out who in your class liked the same things as you

Golden Time meant bonding with classmates over your latest Lego set, a game of football or your love of colouring in. It was essentially a free pass to show off what you were most excited about that week and see who else in the classroom liked the same thing.

Now, the idea of letting people know what you actually like or care about is terrifying so you spend Friday asking Lucy about her plans for the weekend over a gin and tonic. Yes, you’ll be firm friends eventually but only once you’ve shared enough personal information with them that they could blackmail you if you ever tried to shut them out of your life.

It’s a far cry from finding the one other kid who loved colouring in the sky green even though other people found it confusing and realising they’d be your best friend for the rest of your life.

Back when Star Wars Lego meant you were cool

Back when Star Wars Lego meant you were cool

Golden Time wasn’t ruined by ‘outsiders’

Golden Time may have happened across the school, but you only ever spent it with your classmates. In the world of primary school cliques, this made predicting who you’d be able to play with nice and easy. By contrast, work drinks are an ever-changing minefield, constantly ruined by the eejit who decides to invite their friends from outside the office along. With the social fabric of the office now completely disrupted, you’re networking before you even realise it.

Golden Time didn’t drag on forever so it never over-stayed its welcome

At most, you’d get 30 minutes to fit in all of your Friday fun. Once the time was up, the games and toys went away and it was back to normal until it was time to go home. If you were lucky you might be allowed an extra minute to finish your turn or for the song you were listening to to finish but that was it. Next time you’re waking up on a co-worker’s sofa because work drinks turned into a Brick Lane curry and a night out in the West End you’ll be wishing work drinks ended so promptly.

This escalated quickly

This escalated quickly

Everyone got their turn in Golden Time

Mrs Ellis would never let one kid hog the office speakers and play the same rubbish techno remixes for the whole of Golden Time.

Golden Time was different every week

Every week there’d be a new toy, a new craze or a new game to keep you entertained. Everything was new and exciting and it took every bit of memory to keep track of what other people had brought in which you’d like Santa to bring you at Christmas. Compare this to work drinks – same time, same place, same brand of imported lager every week. If even trying a different bar is too outlandish, there’s a problem with your office culture.

To enjoy Golden Time fully you had to follow the Golden Rules

If you pulled a kid’s hair, failed to do your work or broke any of the other Golden Rules, you’d lose a few minutes of that week’s Golden Time. This meant that while everyone else was having fun, you’d be sat in the corner, staring at the clock, waiting for your punishment to end while vowing to never do it again.

Obviously workplaces already have procedures in place for serious rule-breaking but the Golden Rules were always more about being a good person instead of a good pupil. What if the next time Steve pinched one of your avocados out of the communal fridge it meant he missed the first round of beers? Or maybe when Amy forgets to ask her table if they want a cup of tea she should have to sit by herself for the first five minutes in the pub?

There are all manner of minor office indiscretions people get away with constantly because they know there’ll never really be punished for them. It might sound mad but Golden Time could just be the way to make them pay.

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