Published: 18/08/2005, Volume II5, No. 5969 Page 29

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

Work seems to have increased in intensity since we got our desks back - I hope the two things are not connected otherwise I'll start feeling nostalgic for when we had to work lying on the floor.

Rog, our revered head of modernisation, is running around worrying about the PCT fitness-for purpose review. He's got me doing a paper on commissioning confederations while Jenny, his longsuffering deputy, is wrestling with vertical community and acute mergers.

'I've never seen him so twitchy, ' said Jenny, handing me a draft copy. 'I suppose he thinks he's going to lose some of his power base.' I nodded sagely. 'Not much mention of excelling through humility at the moment. Just the tried and tested slavedriver approach.' In fact, Rog hasn't mentioned a single new management fad all week. All he does is mutter about commissioning strategies, breaking off only to do some back exercises recommended by Kevin, the hunky-but-attached osteopath who I never think about. Not ever. I am leaving all that mid-life obsession nonsense to the Ex, who is the world expert at it.

Apparently, things are not going too well with Melody, his new flame. 'Mel's bored, ' said the Ex, flipping through my latest copy of Marie Claire last week.

'Says I am too stuck in my ways. Wants to move to Spain.' I gave him a look.

'That'll make your access visits a weeny bit more expensive, ' I said, 'commuting to see your kids via Easyjet.' He looked a bit sick. 'Yeah, ' he said. 'I told her I would got...' - he looked even sicker - '. . . responsibilities.' He takes being a part-time father a damn sight more seriously than he took being a full-time one. He was so depressed he actually had a glass of Chardonnay with me. It must be the first time We have shared an alcoholic beverage since - well, probably the night I chucked him out. In certain lights, he reminds me of someone... Oh dear. That would be Kevin the Unavailable.

Love Martha

Next week: On the mat with Kevin