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OPINION - CAROL GRANT

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As you know if you've been reading this column for the past year (haven't you got any real work to do?), I'm not a ...
As you know if you've been reading this column for the past year (haven't you got any real work to do?), I'm not a big fan of Christmas.

I usually escape abroad, but this year I've decided to stay put and enter into the spirit of Christmas cheer.

I once went to see Bill Roots, then the chief executive of Westminster City Council, during December. His secretary showed me into his office through a door decorated with the legend 'Santa's grotto'. Behind it sat an avuncular, twinkly man with a great sense of humour. Once I got to know Bill, I realised that this was an essential prerequisite for survival in the post-Shirley Porter era.

I haven't met many Santa-like chief executives since. Perhaps that's because in these days of ruthless efficiency it's no longer a good idea to allow people to sit on your knee and promise to make all their dreams come true (at least not until after the member interview for the chief executive post).

But in the season of goodwill, a sense of fun has to start from the top. So, in homage to Bill, wherever he is (probably earning a packet as a non-executive director), here are my suggestions for games to brighten up that final team meeting of the year.

Mime a member! Give each person in turn a piece of paper containing the name of a cabinet member. Ask them to act out the councillor concerned, using only the universal medium of mime. Video the best ones on your mobile phone and send immediately to www.youtube.com.

Pin the Blame blindfold. Give the director of environment a drawing pin. Spin them round then ask them to stick it on a map of the borough. Then take the blindfold off and ask them to identify the ward where the pin has landed. Get them to call the ward councillor concerned and yell 'Surprise, you've just won the prize for location of the new landfill site!' in a silly voice.

Pass the buck. This is a good one if you want to widen your party to include friends from other agencies like health or the police. Sit in a circle and pass a parcel around. When the music stops, unwrap a layer. Each layer should reveal a small spot prize such as 'reduce teenage pregnancies in two months' or 'stop hoodies terrorising old dears, without using any new money or legal powers'. But make sure the final prize is a goodie, such as 'fill the£10m black hole in local health services using only Sellotape and old pieces of chewing gum'.

Musical restructuring. Arrange the boardroom chairs in a row, leaving one in the corner. Put on a party CD, preferably an upbeat number such as Things can only get better. Ask everyone to dance round the boardroom chairs until the music stops. The first person without a seat has their department abolished. Then ask them to call their divisional management team together for a conference call, set the phone to 'speaker' mode and restart the music.

Excel-lent fun. Tie the borough treasurer to a chair and stuff a Christmas cracker in his mouth. Call up the 2007-2008 budget on a laptop. Invite each remaining member of the team to come up to the PC and tap in figures for 10 seconds each. Press save, then email the budget to the local paper with the message title 'Kelly will cap us for sure predicts borough treasurer'.

If all else fails, get everyone to stand up and ask the chief executive to arrange the members of the management team in a row, in descending order according to salary. In my experience this one never fails to get the party going.

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