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JOBSPOT - Fooling around at the office

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Office pranksters are a boon or a total pain in the proverbial, depending on whether you are one of them or having to grin inanely at their japes.

This, of course, has been beautifully satirised in The Office , BBC2's killer comedy featuring Ricky Gervais as the boss of a paper firm in Slough.

In reality, as April Fool's Day approaches, it pays to be on the constant watch-out for comedy phone lines and other laugh-a-minute antics, or even the stapler-set-in-a-jelly high jinks à la The Office.

The first item to be wary of is the fax machine.Myriad companies have cottoned on to the notion that, by faxing any number of offices with a premium-rate telephone number emblazoned on an A4 sheet, coupled to the promise of 'sending up your mates', filthy lucre will come pouring in. Having been mug enough to call one of these lines, I can tell you that you simply dial, press hash and 'put through' the tape of the angry 'tax inspector'or similar lunatic to your in-the-dark colleague.

Hilarity, of course, ensues.

The second contraption to steer clear of is the photocopier, primarily because of late-night office parties and the peculiar desire that sweeps over office workers to make a simulacrum of various body parts, mostly rears. More jolly japes - but pity the poor fool who includes a rogue 'arse'sheet in a presentation to a client ('We've gone for a symmetrical design, with two wings').

The best thing to do, as 1 April approaches, is not to say anything remotely resembling 'the joke's on you', or, 'you're the fool, because it's after 12', because these are not the most powerful rebuttles. The best thing to do on 1April this year is stay at home. It is Easter Monday, after all.

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