Office bugbears: what annoys you at work?

Hmmmmn. An interesting one this morning. Being asked to write about what annoys you about work and your colleagues. Rather a poisoned chalice…

An article to land you in hot water if ever there was one. But work is work. If you’re commissioned to write something, then you have to write it.

So, dear reader, here it is. What one finds annoying at work:



The #nomakeupselfie

Social media nominations have exploded in 2014. January was dogged by #NEKnominate; the ridiculous pint-guzzling game (‘neck’ a drink and ‘nominate’ a friend to do the same) which, within two weeks, plagued all public forums and quickly escalated from drinking beer to ingesting lethal concoctions of spirits –claiming the lives of five.

In February, a group of South Africans replaced the dangerous trend with the #RAKnomination; where you showed a stranger a ‘random act of kindness’.  From baking cookies for the elderly to paying for someone’s supermarket shop, RAKS soon peppered Twitter feeds and Facebook threads. But they too, as of last week, have been replaced.

The end of March has brought with it a new social media sensation – the #nomakeupselfie (a picture of oneself wearing no make-up and then texting BEAT to 70007 to donate £3 to Cancer Research UK – then nominating someone else to do the same). ‘Finally using a social media trend to make a real difference’, I thought as my newsfeed brimmed with bare faces. Good on them. Well done.

But then I was nominated.

Now, a quick snap sans make-up sounds easy enough. Scrub off the slap and take the selfie. Simple. I thought the same… until I removed my face paint, looked in the mirror and then back at the picture of the girl who had nominated me. She had no make-up on and looked absolutely stunning. Yes, yes, I know, the whole point is to raise money for people suffering from a hideous and cruel disease, it’s not about looking good. But, as I scrolled through my Facebook feed, I realised it wasn’t just her that looked like they’d walked off the catwalk. These weren’t #nomakeupselfie [s], these were #seehowgoodilookwithoutanymakeuponselfies.

Bright-eyed, long-lashed, flawlessly-skinned – was this really what my friendship group look liked naturally? I took my first selfie, yuck. Another, cripes. One more, my goodness it was grim. Before I knew it, I had racked up 23. Not one of which would I have shown a friend, let alone shared on a public  forum.  Was I really so much rougher than my peers?

I thought about it long and hard…but then started to notice some similarities between these glossy pics of my friends. Trends within the trend. An hour and lots of research later, I’d created the perfect guide. So if you’re, like I was, scared of the #nomakeupselfie – do not fear! With these tricks, you’ll be sorted:

Photo: Thanks for the nomination bex and Jewers! Tilly Coles, Camilla McConnell, Anna Webster and Olivia Crane - you have 24 hours :)




“The rule you must follow,” my colleague said vehemently, “is never to read below the line.”

She was referring to that little space between the end of your article and the comment box. That line where, if you keep above, you are blissfully ignorant of what lurks below. But alas, I’ve always been curious. A ‘don’t touch the hot plate – and I touch it’ kind of girl. So I didn’t listen to the wise words and my gaze dropped below the line…the dreaded line, the vile pit of evilness, the hurtful chasm of crassness…

It’s an occupational hazard, trolling. Just like here in the blogosphere, in the newspaper world the veil of anonymity brings out the worst of humanity. Well the online newspaper world, oh to work in the bygone era of paper, where ink and tree in harmony be.

Anyway, here is the article in question…written about this new breed of phone etiquette. Girlfriends when they are WITH their boyfriends by the phone (not busy) and they get the boyfriend to pick up. Not when the boyfriend is doing a favour, taking a message. This seems to be most of the trolls misconception.

So I pass you over to the article. Feast your eyes on the mean words of strangers…no filter.


Peacocking much? When did boyfriends picking up their girlfriends’ phones become OK?

A new trend of women letting their boyfriends pick up their phone to their friends has left Alice Audley far from entertained. Is she the only one?

When did the phenomenon of relationship peacocking become the norm?

When did the phenomenon of relationship peacocking become the norm?

Collaboration with Peter Oborne

After our road trip to Buckinghamshire and Oxford, Peter Oborne (chief political commentator at The Telegraph) asked me to work for him. I’m now in my second week at his office, which suffice to say, is a lot further West than Victoria.

Since taking up my new position, I have fulfilled numerous tasks. The most recent was a collaboration (research) on an article for Platform – an online magazine which deals with current affairs.

My credit is at the bottom:

Review: Fish Market

A javelin’s throw from Liverpool St Station, new city restaurant Fish Market was the plaice to be last night. Amid the gleam of spring sunshine, the eatery celebrated the launch of its new terrace with an informal cocktail and canapé party.

Fish Market Underneath clusters of lantern lights, cheery waiters danced around the restaurant floor handing out seaside-inspired snacks. Miniature fish and chips lathered in tartare sauce were wrapped neatly in newspaper cones; scallops, placed in shells, paddled in olive oil; full-flavoured crabs were pushed into pasties.

The food worked with poetic smoothness and unequivocally floated the epicurean boat. Causing notable grabbing from the guests were the crisp coated Scotch eggs. Perfectly battered, the bantam-sized eggs boasted bold coloured orange yolks, which were equally powerful in flavour. Further richness docked at tables in the form of broad bean and pea risotto, awash with an oil slick of cheese – delicious.

Sinking the dregs of the dairy-laden dish, guests took aboard rum cocktails and flutes of prosecco, before turning their attention to pudding. Served in crunchy wafer turrets, the creamiest of vanilla ice cream delightfully topped slices of strawberry. This fantastic dessert was then rounded off with a goody-bag filled with chocolate treasures.

Fish Market knows how to throw a party, has a team of great waiters and waitresses, serves a cleverly crafted menu and – with the sun finally out of hibernation – will undoubtedly be a hit this summer. Whether you’re a commuter, a Londoner, or just an avid Kooks fan, this restaurant is definitely worth a visit.

Alice Audley

Food: 16/20
Drinks: 16/20
Service: 17/20
Fish Market: 49/60                                                                                                   

To book a table at Fish Market, 16B New Street, London EC2M 4TR, call 020 3503 0790 or visit here.

Exhibition review: North South Divine at WW Gallery

Nestled in the heart of the diamond district, to find the WW Gallery you have to be seeking it; the building is narrow, unassuming and could easily be missed. But to miss it would be ill-advised, for within this hidden gem in Hatton Garden is a fantastic collection of contemporary art – the North South Divine exhibition.

Kate Davis - The Wind Rises

Kate Davis – The Wind Rises

Featuring the work of eight artists, the display, which will tour upcountry to Middlesbrough, supposedly plays on “the age-old geographical and traditional social tensions between both ends of the country”. Anchored on the Southern side of the coin and surrounded by artworks that could be found anywhere in the country, this seemed far-fetched. Tensions were explored, but these were rooted in feminism rather than geography.

Boa Swindler, who has three works on display, uses inverted feminism in her pieces to commentate on the shift (post-recession) of many modern-day women, who now desire nothing more than to be 50s housewives – to serve their husbands, to bake cupcakes and to have babies. Swindler accompanies her artwork with voice-overs, which are delivered in a steady, clear and serious tone. This isn’t the voice of sense, but of the automaton woman, and the sincerity with which it calmly asserts: “Day after day there are girls in the office, men will be men. Don’t send him off to work with your hair still in curlers, you may not see him again…”, while you look at a pair of tasselled sugar and salt shakers, is chilling.

Kate Davis’s The Wind Rises is equally provocative. A steel table, about 7ft high, with four lemons as bases for the four legs, and a portfolio of drawings and texts perched on top (which, as a woman, you can’t reach or entirely see) – the piece is a physical representation of the glass ceiling: “The unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements.” Davis’ lemons show the sour foundations for women: that from the off they are destined for failure, and the work that they want to grasp will forever be out of their reach.

North South Divine may not deliver on geographical tensions, but it certainly raises long-standing questions over the sexes and the female role, and is well worth a visit.

Verdict: ••••   

Alice Audley

Theatre review: The Low Road at the Royal Court Theatre

After seven fruitful years at Sloane Square’s Royal Court Theatre, Dominic Cooke is relinquishing his position as artistic director, though not before one final collaboration with American playwright Bruce Norris. The duo who brought us The Pain and the Itch and the critically acclaimed Clybourne Park team up again for The Low Road.

Set in 18th Century Massachusetts,The Low Road is a “fable of free-market economics and cut-throat capitalism”. Following the life of amoral Jim Trumpett, who may or may not be the son of George Washington, the play is powered by money, greed and racism. Trumpett, played by Johnny Flynn, desires nothing more than to be stinking rich and has no issue with eliminating all who get his way. Whether this is achieved by stealing from them, buying them or actually murdering them is of little concern to him.

Flynn plays the role with just the right amount of fake boyish charm and callousness. He is gracious to those who can help on his way, and vile once they have served their purpose. The brilliant portrayal of his character’s immorality is best bared in his scenes with Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, who plays Trumpett’s well-spoken slave John Blanke. Flynn perfectly captures Trumpett’s frustration as he repeatedly fails to control Blanke, in a series of highly amusing verbal battles.

Humour is a real strong point of the performance and holds it together when it verges on heavy-going. The plot is thick; there are location shifts, character shifts and time shifts -including one massive leap into a 21st Century board-room meeting. Indeed, if it weren’t for the Brechtian use of banners and signs telling you whereabouts in the story you were, and the brilliant dry-witted narrator, Adam Smith (played by Bill Paterson), then you would be at risk of literally losing the plot.

With a 20-strong cast playing, between them, 51 characters, The Low Road is a massive undertaking, which could only succeed under the experienced direction of Dominic Cooke. The play, which is reminiscent of Lucy Prebble’s Enron, is cleverly scripted, entertaining and thought-provoking. The realisation that the one character you explicitly don’t trust is probably the only character that is telling the truth is extremely unsettling. The Low Road is a long road, but it is worth the journey.

Verdict: ••••

Alice Audley

Review: The Icon Bar relaunches on its sixth anniversary in Leicester Square


The Icon Balcony Bar in Leicester Square should note the old idiom: “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” To celebrate their sixth anniversary, the bar has relaunched with a brand new cocktail menu: The Iconic Dessert Cocktails – and they are revolting.

Situated directly above the Empire Cinema and boasting a large terrace (where you can spy on the stars), the Icon Balcony Bar isn’t members only, and though it looks small it fits 80 comfortably. Its interior has a Knightsbridge-esque vibe, or rather a Russian vibe. Huge chandeliers sparkle over red velvet sofas giving the room an Oligarch “this cost a lot but still looks cheap” look.

Half a dozen or so exceptionally attractive waitresses worked the room quickly and efficiently, delivering drinks to your table far faster than if you queued at the bar. First to arrive was theSalted Caramel (Fresh pineapple chunks shaken with Makers Mark Bourbon and homemade caramel, served in an ice-chilled coupette and garnished with a salted caramel rim). This wasn’t gently salted; there was enough white stuff on the rim of the glass to salt cook a sea bass. The caramel and bourbon did work well together, but the strong flavours of the duo masked any taste of pineapple.

Next came the Lemon Meringue Pie (Vodka shaken with lime and lemon curd served with a soft home-made meringue and biscuit rim). This was better; the curd was thick and tangy and worked well with the biscuit rim. The meringue hadn’t been cooked, but whipped egg white and sugar still tasted nice. In fact, lime and lemon curd, uncooked meringue and biscuit make rather a pleasant dessert – there was no need for the vodka clinging to the sides of the curd like an acidic glaze (except to make it a cocktail). Indeed, a shot of vodka would have been better, followed by the rest enjoyed simply as a dessert.

Also on the menu were Cherry Bakewell (Cherry Heering and girottines syrup shaken with bourbon and garnished with icing sugar), Blueberry Cheesecake (Vanilla Vodka and liquer, sugar, cream cheese and double cream with a crumble rim), Tiramisu (Vodka, Crème de Cacao, coffee, double cream, marscapone and sugar, dusted with sugar) and Apple Pie and Custard (Fresh apples shaken with vodka and pomme verte, layered with vanilla infused cream).

However, after watching a particularly curdled Blueberry Cheesecake being ferried past, the old menu and a Jamaican Mule (Spiced rum infused with fresh ginger and vanilla, charged with ginger beer) called. This was fantastic. A Rose Petal Martini (Rose petal vodka stirred with gin and lychee, garnished with an edible flower) was also beautifully made: dainty, light and refreshing.

Overall, though the atmosphere was good and the service highly impressive, the new cocktails let the launch down. Inventive yes, but not catered to a wide-ranging palate. I would suggest going to The Icon Balcony Bar, but stick to the old menu.

Verdict: •••

Alice Audley

Photos: Luna Ingrassia