Published: 24/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5944 Page 37

Martha is the assistant director of modernisation at a primary care trust. At the end of another busy week, she collapses in front of her PC to e-mail Mary, a former colleague, who has escaped Down Under.

Hi Mary

The Ex has decided he doesn't 'need' his access weekends for the next month because he has booked himself into a health farm. (All part of trying to keep his new girlfriend interested. ) Work is tricky, too. Remember my bright idea of writing a paper about Zen at work? Head of modernisation Roger loves it. Now we are in serious danger of being remodelled along the lines of a Tibetan retreat. Neither Roger's deputy Jenny, nor Droopy Trudy, head of communications, are happy.

'Look at this, clever clogs, ' said Jenny, 'We have got to write about 'our beliefs about work' for the next round of appraisals. Somehow I do not think I can put 'We'd all be fine if you could stop introducing a new fad every two weeks.' It has to be about inner beauty.' 'Do something, Martha, ' said Trudy.

'Otherwise I shall have to start looking for another job again, and I'll end up in prison.' Trudy is still in debt-counselling after buying the entire contents of Next for her last job-hunt. 'He's even got Dr Armani going on about it in his TV slot - how we can stay healthier if we commit to being who we really are.' 'OK, OK, I have an idea coming through, ' I said. 'This idea about committing to being who you really are.

How would Rog like who we really are on a Saturday night in front of the TV?' Jenny brightened up at once.

It was brutal, but effective. The next day, after a bit of telephone conferring, we all came to work as who we really were. Jenny was in a dressing gown, baby doll nightie and fluffy slippers.

Trudy looked like Morticia Adams - her ensemble for going on the town with a few like-minded members of the undead, apparently.

And I put on the full works: little black dress, teetering high heels and fishnets. Topped off with a toy gun - wronged wife, you see.

I do not think we'll be hearing much about it again. Roger's outer self nearly passed out.

Love Martha

Next week: waves of alienation