Published: 24/03/2005, Volume II5, No. 5947 Page 37

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

Hi Mary

How is it in sunny Australia? No, do not tell me. I can't bear to hear it. Here, the heating has broken down and the Ex can't have the kids at the weekend because he's finally done himself harm in pursuit (in more ways than one) of the body beautiful. During his last yoga session he heard something tear during his Sun Salutations.

Anyway, he's not the only male who's a bit down in the mouth. Head of modernisation Roger is still lurking in his office due to sensitivity issues brought on by working with the Alpha Female Phenomenon. Personally, I do not think me, Jenny and Drippy Hippy Trudy - our sniffly head of communications - quite add up to a cross between Destiny's Child and Macbeth's witches, but I know where he's coming from.

Roger is happy staring at his pictures of rock formations or surrounded by nice quiet suits. One whiff of oestrogen and he comes over all funny.

And when he's unhappy he cheers himself up by generating piles of work and making forays out of his office to tell us We are a bunch of wasters. 'We just do not seem to be getting the throughput, ' he said yesterday. 'Are there some personnel issues I am not aware of? Can you do a SWAT analysis and get back to me, ASAP?' Jenny rolled her eyes and took a large bite of apple Danish - she's in her Fat Trousers at the moment (are not we all at this time of year? ). 'I'll SWAT him in a minute, ' she said. 'This is crazy. I was in at 8.30, and I didn't get home last night till after 10. I am turning into one of those weekend dads whose children grow up without them noticing.' I tried to look sympathetic, but only women who still have a man about the house can indulge in such luxuries as not noticing their children much. Mine are so noticeable that I may soon need medication - either the Twins are trashing the place or Teenager is in her room wailing along to Kurt Cobain.

Even her toothpaste is black. Amazing what you can get on E-Bay.

Love Martha

Next week: time to cheer up Roger