I never used to work from home much. When the kids were younger, my wife was at home and without an office, quiet room or even a shed, I found it difficult to concentrate. Accessing the work network over dial-up also was a significant constraint.

Now things are different. My children are both at secondary school and leave the house before I do. My wife also works and I have a broadband connection and VPN access to the office network. So, occasionally, I can save two hours commuting, sit down with a decent cup of tea, be productive and still be back home in time for tea.

Apart from today, that is. My wife isn’t working today but worse than that, a pet hamster has effected a miraculous escape overnight. I had noticed that he was looking deeply upset after United’s shock defeat at Southend and chewing frantically at the bars but I never thought he would do anything like this.

The rodent is now on the loose so all floor fittings have been detached and every dark nook and cranny has been examined with a high powered flashlight.

Of course, the hamster hasn’t been found. He probably got too inquisitive and is starving to death somewhere under the floorboards. That is, if he managed to avoid the mouse poison.

So the search is called off (by me) and suspended by my wife who has gone to share the terrible news with friends over an overpriced Cappuccino.

Peace at last. Until my daughter sends me a text ‘found him yet ?’. Plagued by guilt, I get a torch out and scan under the furniture and fireplace yet again. Then I put his cage on the floor with a tasty pumpkin seed placed outside to tempt him back to his metal prison.

Peace at last. Back to what I should be working on. Music on. Oh no, I forgot. No music is allowed as I am supposed to be listening for hamster-like rustling noises. Funny how the washing machine is exempt from this noise curfew.

Peace at last. Knock at the front door. Some delivery from Next. Sign. Thanks.

Peace at last. Another knock at the door. Two female religious nuts who, thankfully (for their sake) decide not to preach at me for ten minutes but instead just push a leaflet into my hand titled ‘THE END OF FALSE RELIGION IS NEAR !’ with the intriguing bullet points

  • What is false religion ?
  • How will it end ?
  • How will you be affected ?

This is clearly a sign from God. I tell the ladies that my wife is out, I have the house all to myself and the kettle has just boiled. I invite them in and ask whether they are qualified to officiate over a funeral for a hamster. Curiously, they look aghast and leave. Maybe I shouldn’t have flicked my dressing gown so wide open.

Finally, peace at last. Check my email. Curiously, I have a voicemail from my office extension. This is strange because hardly anyone has access to this number. I can never remember it without looking at my business card. My wife doesn’t know it and hardly anyone I know has ever used it.

I play the WAV that is consuming 500KB of disk space. Inevitably, it is a recruitment consultant who ‘has spoken to some people who know me very well, think very highly of me and just happen to think I might just be interested in some vacuous pre-sales role dealing with some of the biggest blue chip companies in, not just the UK, but Europe.’ Thanks but no thanks. Delete the message and return to the document I should be writing.

Peace at last. Until the telephone rings. Some direct marketeer brings me tidings of great joy. My wife and I have won a Christmas Hamper. I am immediately suspicious and ask if this is surplus stock from Farepak. She assures me that it isn’t and tells me that my wife and I just need to come to a local hotel on Saturday to collect this hamper.

I ask why they can’t just send it. Because I have to collect it with my wife. Can’t my wife just pop over and collect it ? No. My wife and I must both collect it. Why - is the hamper really that heavy ? No. I ask if there is any type of ‘presentation’ involved. No there isn’t. It is just a free Christmas hamper. What’s in the hamper ? I can’t tell you. Finally, I say I am not interested and hang up.

Wife returns. She asks whether Julia has called to confirm the appointment about the Christmas Hamper. I tell her the bad news. She then asks whether I have heard any hamster-like noises and I tell her more bad news. No hamster-like rustlings but plenty of interruptions.

I finally give up. I put a collared shirt on, and drive to the office. Peace at last.