Published: 26/05/2005, Volume II5, No. 5957 Page 35

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-mailMary, a former colleague, who has escaped Down Under

Hi Mary

Ever thought you were too clever for your own good? Like when you spend the whole day being dynamic and brilliant in meetings and come out feeling really pleased with yourself until you find your desk groaning under piles of real-life, task-type stuff? Well, Passion Month has been my undoing.

It all started with that quotation business. Roger gave us all a quote to respond to and said we had to come up with one for him. Ours all seemed to carry veiled messages about our incompetence: whingey (me), rubbish at leadership (Jenny, Roger's deputy) and terminally inactive (Trudy, our droopy head of communications).

So we came up with the brilliant notion of giving rock-climbing Rog a completely meaningless quote: 'A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.' Big mistake. For two days, we had no reaction from the mighty one, though he was unnervingly jaunty. His romance with the unfeasibly gorgeous Helga has bucked him up a lot, so we put it down to a surfeit of work-life balance.

Anyway he called us in to one of his 6.30 breakfast meetings, waited till we all had a face full of croissant and said: 'I want to say a big thank you for that truly inspirational quote. I really feel Passion Month has brought us together.

But this is just the beginning. You have inspired a sensational idea: an outwardbound weekend.' None of us could speak or chew for a moment. Then Jenny swallowed far too much croissant in one go and said, in a strangled voice: 'Surely we haven't budgeted for something like that?' 'Oh, That is no issue, ' said Rog, airily. 'Helga's an outward-bound instructor. We'll get it for next to nothing.' Yikes. Now We are trying to work out if we can all be due for a hip replacement at the crucial time. If you have any better ideas, please let me know. I haven't done anything remotely gungho since I was in the Brownies.

Love Martha

Next week: Conquering Bev Nevis