Published: 03/11/2005 Volume 115 No. 5980 Page 33

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

Things are getting very peculiar at work. Who would have thought I could end up feeling sorry for Rog, our beleaguered head of modernisation?

Yesterday, after being mysteriously absent, he showed up at work again. But there was no mention of his unscheduled trip to Wales or his unexpected yen for a techno-free day.

This was a new Rog, a scary Rog. A Rog who did not arrive with mobile attached to head and who went into his office with a herbal tea without mentioning meetings, brainstorming or PowerPoint.

All he did was smile vaguely.

Jenny, his deputy, stared after him.

'He's had a conversion on that mountainside, ' she said sagely. 'He's got religion.' I found this hard to believe.

'Either that, or he's just flipping through a few catalogues in search of a new Blackberry, ' I said.

But the office was scarily quiet all day, with the main event being a call from TV Local to see if Roger wanted to talk about work-life balance on PEC chair Dr Armani's show.

He wasn't taking calls so I tiptoed in to find him lying under his desk. 'Is everything all right?' I asked, bending down to look at him. He was wearing head phones and had his eyes shut. He pulled the earphones off. 'Whale music, ' he said calmly. 'What would your top sound for total relaxation be?' I shrugged. 'The Archers theme tune, I suppose, ' I said. 'Do you want to talk to Dr Armani about work-life balance?' Rog nodded, then clipped his earphones back onto his head.

When I told Jenny, she said: 'If he can't do a day's work he should go home. Is he having a nervous breakdown? I think we should be told.' She was looking nastily at a paper on PCT reconfiguration. 'There is work to be done before we all disappear.' I didn't like her tone. 'It is not his fault if he's cracking up, ' I said. 'It is workplace stress.' Jenny looked at me sourly.

'Some of us have PowerPoint presentations to finish, ' she snapped.

Love, Martha

Next week: Roger and out