Z/Yen Seasonal Events Past ‑ Part Two: A Golden Era, 2004 to 2013

Introduction by Ian Harris

Z/Yen Christmas events have been much-loved and fondly-remembered occasions since the very first year of Z/Yen’s existence, 1994. Several traditions have emerged over the years. The event always includes a meal and often (but not always) also includes an interesting activity as a prelude to the meal. Indeed, the “prelude activity” tradition started in Z/Yen’s very first year, as the founders of Z/Yen signed the original Shareholders’ Agreement for the Z/Yen Group just before dinner on the evening of that first Christmas event, at the Paris House in Woburn Park, on 16 December 1994. The other tradition that emerged from the outset was the tradition of performing a song at dinner. In 1994, the song was a fairly low key affair, as documented in my Ogblog piece about the matter – click here.

In 1995, again at The Paris House, three Z/Yen stalwarts - only I, as lyricist and ringleader, will own up to doing this - donned some seriously dodgy-looking wigs and sang When Will We See You At Z/Yen, much to the horror of the burghers of Bedfordshire, who were looking on askance from other tables. Try not to think about it too much. Fortunately for the world, no-one took photographs that evening. The tradition of taking a private room (or at least a semi-private dining area) for the Z/Yen Christmas event was thus subsequently established. In the interests of decency, Z/Yen held off from song-singing until it was in a position to take private rooms. For some reason unexplained, Z/Yen has never returned to the delightful Paris House.

But let us not run this account from the very beginning to the present day. Let's run it from the present day to the very beginning. This article will list all the events and, where possible, provide links to narrative, pictures and lyrics, sometimes elsewhere on the Z/Yen site, sometimes on my own Ogblog site.

This page sets out Part Two of the story - the years 2004 to 2013. I describe it as The Golden Era, partly because the 2013 event was literally themed "Gold" and also because it was a golden era for interesting preceding activities. It was also a peak era for photographic records from our seasonal events. Monique Gore and Jez Horne were the vanguard of that trend, which was also encouraged by the emergence of digital photography and in particular smart phone photography during this period. Many thanks to all the Z/Yen folk who contributed to the deluge of colourful images.

If you attended one or more of these events and have pictures and/or memories to share, please get in touch with me, Ian Harris, and I'll ensure that your material finds its way into these pieces.

2013 - Sardo Restaurant, Preceded By "Beyond El Dorado" Or "Shunga Japanese Art" At the British Museum, 13 December 2013


An Ogblog report on the whole event can be seen by clicking here. It includes words, pictures and the song lyric: "Dressed Up In Gold".

Pretty much everyone really did dress up in gold for that year's event. If you just want pictures, there are loads of them, which you can see on Flickr by clicking here. Very colourful they are too.

2012 - The Cinnamon Club, Preceded By Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant Garde, Tate Britain, 14 December 2012


An Ogblog report on the whole event can be seen by clicking here. It includes words, pictures and the song lyric: "Good Keen Z/Yen Trainees" - one of the better lyrics.

This event was a jolly good excuse for everyone to dress up in pseudo-Pre-Raphaelite garb - the Z/Yen team in those days didn't need much of an excuse to dress up. There are loads of pictures which can be seen through the above Ogblog link or directly, just the pictures, through this Flickr link.

2011 - Bistro Bruno Loubert At Zetters, Preceded By "Hello" Drinks At 90 Basinghall Street, 16 December 2011


An Ogblog report on the whole event can be seen by clicking here. What more could you want? Words, pictures and the song lyrics: "Oh Little Street Of Basinghall & Price Of Fish" - two songs for the price of one.

A large group and a very large batch of pictures from that year. If you want to look solely at the pictures, click this Flickr link.

2010 - The Boundary Restaurant, Preceded By "Goodbye" Drinks At St Helen's Place, 17 December 2010


There is an Ogblog report explaining all you want to know (and more) about this event - click here. Again a lot of pictures and a second (but not last) version of the song lyric: "The Twelve Days Of Z/Yen Training". Trigger warning - there is even a video of the Z/Yen team singing this one if you dare to click through and watch.

If all you want to see is photographs (and even that scary video), then Flickr is the place for you - click here.

2009 - Notting Hill Brasserie, Preceded By Decode Exhibition At V&A, 18 December 2009

For some strange reason we have no pictures from the 2009 Z/Yen seasonal event. I find it hard to believe that none were taken, yet there is no sign of anyone uploading a batch to the Z/Yen server, although that habit had become established by the end of 2009. For example, our cricket outing to Lord's in June when Sir Garfield Sobers watched us play...


Heck, who needs Christmas photos when you have a summer photo like that? But I digress.

There is an Ogblog piece describing the excellent Christmas event that year. If all you are after is the song lyric, we sand "ExtZy" to the tune of Branle D'Official (Ding Dong Merrily On High) - click here for a pdf of the lyric sheet.

2008 - 1 Blossom Street, Preceded By Drinks At St Helen's Place, 12 December 2008

2009-02_Zyen Xmas 08 023

Only one image is known to have survived from this event - see above. There were almost certainly many - hopefully they will some day be rediscovered on some technological equivalent of an archaeological dig.

Ian Harris has Ogblogged this event - click here. The song lyric, included in that piece, was: "Z/Yen At Christmas" - click here for the pdf.

2007 - Cambio de Tercio, Preceded By The Golden Age Of Couture Or The Art Of Lee Miller At The V&A, 14 December 2007

2008-04_Ian cricket

Another golden year. Another event for which there must have been many photographs but only a couple seem to survive - the one above and the one used in Ian's Ogblog piece for this event - click here. The song lyric was "Santa's Using PropheZy At Z/Yen" - included in the Ogblog piece and also a pdf - click here.

2006 - Lanes Restaurant, Middlesex Street, Preceded By Drinks In The New Z/Yen Section Of St Helen's Place, 8 December 2006

No photographs at all from this event. Ian has Ogblogged the occasion in his inimitable style - click here. Within that piece, a rare Michael Mainelli song lyric: "Oh Little Court Of St Helen's". Here it is in all it's gory...I mean, glory:


(Sung to the tune of “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”)

Oh little court of St Helen’s

How swish we see thee lie!

Beneath thy deep and wealthy sleep

Z/Yen’s offices abide

And in these dark deep shadows

The everlasting blight

Consultancy adds to your years

When packed as tight as mice

How crowded-ly, how crowded-ly

Z/Yen dishes out advice

Beside the frozen servers

And other bust device

Paper’s overflowing

But Linda’s looking nice

And if we get our Seventh Heav’n

We’ll soon trash Number Five.

The joke about “seven” and “five” related to the address, 5-7 St Helen’s Place. Whereas Z/Yen's original (smaller) offices had been accessed through the door of No 7, this new expanded space was at the No 5 end of the 5-7 St Helen's Place building. That site is, latterly, The Leathersellers' Hall. Z/Yen occupied one or other part of 5-7 St Helen's Place for 16 years, between 1995 and 2011.

2005 - Quo Vadis, Dean Street, Preceded By Drinks At De Hems In Macclesfield Street, Friday 16 December 2005


This was a particularly special seasonal event in Soho. Ian's write up explains how it came about - click here.

The song lyric that year was "Jeremy The Red-Toed Banker" - a rare joint effort between Michael and Ian (more Michael in this instance) - click here for the pdf. Connoisseurs of recycling will appreciate the re-use of this conceit in the 2023 lyric, Michael the Red-Robed Lord Mayor. Lovers of coincidences should know that Jeremy e-mailed Ian about 30 seconds after Ian put the finishing touches on that piece of literal recycling. Spooky.

2004 - People's Palace, Royal Festival Hall, Preceded By Eyes Lies & Illusions At Hayward Gallery, 10 December 2004


There was a great atmosphere among the Z/Yen folk at the 2004 event. The exhibition was a feast for the eyes and then followed some feasting proper at The People's Palace. Ian's write up can be seen here. It includes the lyrics to Michael's song, "Toil and Play". Only Michael could choose the words "bromo and fizz" to replace comfort and joy. It seems thatBromo-Seltzer has a long and (in)glorious history in song lyrics. Who knew? (Well, Michael did, obviously).