Back page: My week - Peter Stanford ends up walking the dog

MONDAY: Tricky morning cold-calling solicitors.

One of the hardest things to do when working with prisoners is to establish boundaries. Our system fails so many of them so badly that you inevitably find yourself saying to them: "I could sort that one out with a phone call." Which becomes two, three, four. In theory, the boundary is clear. I run, through the Longford Trust, a scheme to help young ex-prisoners continue their rehab by going to university. They apply; our expert panel selects. We send the money and appoint a mentor. In reality, some universities withdraw places at the last minute because our candidate has a criminal record.

Another was refused college accommodation because of his past. And our latest is about to be deported just because she's Spanish.

WEDNESDAY: Time to swap charity hats and act like a chairman. I've tried to be inclusive and call myself 'chair' of Aspire, but it is a spinal cord injury charity and many involved use chairs. I'm also never quite sure how to handle the meeting and greeting when I go to Aspire's various sites. I don't want to be like Young Mr Grace in Are You Being Served? (if you're too young to remember it, watch the reruns on cable) and arrive, wave and say: "You're all doing very well." But the charity's grown so much that I find the faces there change with dizzying regularity. Or perhaps I'm just at a difficult age.

THURSDAY: Feeling even older. At a goodbye dinner at the school where I'm a governor, I go to take my seat at a table with the young members of staff and realise from the looks on their faces that they regard me as a grandpa.

FRIDAY: Press screening at Channel 4 of Longford, based on my biography of Frank Longford, with Jim Broadbent. Feel very positive about the film.

Ninety primetime minutes of TV with a national treasure of an actor putting over a message about the need to forgive offenders has got to be a good thing.

SATURDAY: The pile of charity Christmas catalogues has been reaching Peter Crouch-proportions on the kitchen mantelpiece. In theory, this means you can get organised well before time. Only it doesn't quite work that way. First, there is the awful homogeneity of most of the goods on offer.

I find myself yearning for the defunct Innovations catalogue and its ingenious devices for solving problems you never knew you had. Second, I can't quite rise to the challenge of choosing which one, two or three to patronise.

Suddenly a walk with the dog on Primrose Hill seems terribly attractive, pooper bags notwithstanding.

- Peter Stanford is a writer and broadcaster and director of the Frank Longford Charitable Trust.

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