Our office Christmas party was a decadent affair held in Battersea Evolution, a vast space in Battersea Park, capable of holding thousands for corporate events and shows. The set up was most impressive. A champagne reception awaited us on arrival. The nibbles were miniature meals – chorizo and potato stew and miniature curries were but a few of the savoury options. I ate every thing around me and despite this managed a trip to what can only be described as stalls dedicated to cheese and desserts. My belly contained a happy stomach.
Three thousand colleagues attended the event. Our department was a small group compared to the overall number of employees based in London. If you were separated from the posse, chances are you would remain alone for a good half hour before encountering someone you knew. I managed to lose my friends three or four times, using the time to admire the numerous well dressed City Boys. On one such occasion, around midnight, I encountered Charlie, my friend and colleague, in a room set up for karaoke.
“This place is huge,” I shouted in her ear over the croaky singer. “I’ve been on my own for ages”.
“Did you hear about Regina?” Charlie asked me.
She read the confusion in my face.
“Regina was taken away in an ambulance an hour ago.” Her tone was serious.
Regina was a colleague of ours who had only joined a few weeks ago.
“No way! Are you sure? What happened?”
Charlie leaned in closer as the singer on stage attempted to own a Meatloaf number. She leaned towards my ear. “Apparently, she was outside and received an injury to the head.”
“Oh my God!”
Charlie explained Regina had been queueing for one of the funfair amusements near the entrance and received a head injury. She paused in her explanation. “I don’t know if it’s true or not, but … It doesn’t sound believable, but someone said she was hit in the head by a coconut.”
“That’s what I heard.” She shrugged.
I refused to believe this. “That must be false. I think it possible something hit her in the head. Someone is bullshitting on that detail.”
We continued partying. Every now and again, we were either told or asked about Regina’s accident. I dismissed it as gossip.”We’ll find out tomorrow,” I said to close the matter.
The next morning I arrived into work a few hours late with a heavy head. I had been awake until 6AM. I walked to my desk, praying for a quiet day, and caught sight of Regina at her desk. I thought best not to ask about the rumour. I figured numerous people had inundated her with questions already.
An hour later, I heard her call my name. She stood next to me. Her thick Spanish hair was tousled down around her face. Her dark complexion failed to mask her tiredness. She looks as tired as I feel, I thought. The rumour must be false. I bet she was out almost as late as I was.
“I must leave work early today. Do you mind?”
“Of course not,” I replied. I intended to do the same.
“I must see a doctor.”
“Are you OK?” I asked. “I heard you had an accident last night. Is it true or …?” My question trailed.
She nodded and pointed to the corner of her right eye. There was bruising. “The eyesight in my right eye is fading.”
“What happened last night?”
She concsidered her words. “I was standing outside queuing for one of the rides with Paul and … someone threw a coconut at my head.”
“Yes,” she confirmed, “a coconut.”
I did my damndest not to laugh. This poor girl had received a potentially serious injury and I wanted to erupt with laughter. I felt awful.
Charlie spun around in her chair. “You mean it’s true! You were hit in the head last night? With an actual coconut?”
Regina nodded and walked towards Charlie.
“Did you keep the coconut?” Charlie asked this in a sincere manner.
“No,” Regina said. “It would not fit into my handbag”.
I turned in my chair and laughed hard and silently. I was grateful Regina was not at my side to see my amusement. On composing myself, I stood up and ushered Regina to the door. “Get out of here. You need to see a doctor quickly”.
Regina was back in the office the next day, her eyesight fully restored. The bruises healed quickly. A week later, we even laughed at the sheer misfortune of receiving a blow to the head … by a coconut … at night … in the middle of Battersea Park …. in December.