Last time I wrote about the relaxed vibe in the laboratory when the boss is away. Well, he’s still away, and the sedative effects of an impending Christmas are well and truly entrenched in our institute. The Christmas party was last night, and even though it’s past 11 now, the building is still eerily quiet – and pale-faced post-docs keep staggering in. I have no doubt that lunch breaks will mysteriously extend to hours as last-minute shopping is discharged. Despite the blue sky and brilliant sunshine, snow clouds skirt the horizon, and nobody seems too fussed about experiments (though of course they are still taking place – if you’re reading, boss).