Published: 06/01/2005, Volume III, No. 5937 Page 33

Martha has just started a new job as assistant director of modernisation at a hectic primary care trust. At the end of a busy week, she collapses in front of her computer to e-mail Mary, a former colleague, who has escaped Down Under.

Hi Mary, Came into work yesterday to find Trudy, the head of communications, wringing her hands (bad move - she wears so many 'ethnic' silver rings that I thought she might lose a few fingers. ) 'I can't cope, ' she said, swigging at her bottle of Bach's Rescue Remedy as though it was Gordon's. 'Dr Armani is impossible!' 'So what's new?' asked Jenny, the deputy head of modernisation and the voice of reason. She was halfway through writing an e-mail on flexible working and Christmas shopping addressed to 'all humans in the PCT'.

'He loves himself, stinks of Eau Sauvage and hasn't done an honest day's work in his life. Surely You have got used to that?' 'It is media training, ' said Trudy. 'I am trying to get through to him, but he doesn't listen.' 'Oh, God. He's got that slot on local TV, hasn't he? Where he does that phone-in for the worried well?' Trudy nodded miserably: 'He's so thrilled to be on television that he will not stop smiling, ' she said. 'It is not right. These people are hypochondriacs.

They do not want to see his dental work.

They want bedside manner. If You have got any ideas, let me know. His next broadcast is this afternoon.' Jenny just smiled mysteriously.

Sure enough, when Dr Armani popped in, Jenny was ready for him. 'Morning, ladies, ' he beamed, Julio Inglesias-style.

'You're all looking wonderful today.' 'Morning, Dr Armani, ' said Jenny. 'Not looking bad yourself. The extra weight suits you.' You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife but he recovered, smiled bitterly at Jenny's round stomach and flounced out. And sure enough, that afternoon the audience of Dr Armani's Sofa Surgery were treated to all the bedside manner they could wish for.

And the result? The station's switchboard was jammed with adoring fans. Dr Armani has discovered brooding mystery. Whether that is a good thing, I am not sure.

Love, Martha Next week: agenda re-alignment