Start at the bottom: A training course fails to keep Neil Start's mind off Anka

Tuesday: Office in post-New Year lull. All buried in preparing budgets for new financial year, so slip away on training course listed as key action point in last appraisal. Jerome, acting chair of Goldfish Action Group, was relieved to get my long face out of office - so he could get on uninterrupted with budgeting for loo-flushes-per-member-of-staff in 2006/07, no doubt.

As I trawl through at least 30 possible courses, all with instant availability, spot business opportunity running charity training for lastminute.com.

Wonder would Dad consider that a 'proper job'? Conclude that with own fatherhood looming and paternity battle to fight with absent chairman, this not the moment to launch myself as Mother Teresa meets Martha Lane Fox. Instead, book myself on a two-day new media fundraising course billed as 'how to raise money without ever talking to anyone'.

Thursday: Turn up at Travel Lodge outside Portsmouth at 8.30am - no mean feat with no car - for introductory session. Wizz, our facilitator, apparently an ex-bit-part player from Neighbours, suggests we relax our inhibitions with warm-up exercise - walking round room as if pieces of cotton wool. Tempted to leave, but ruffle hair and wave arms aimlessly.

Long session on 'how to text a million' begins with impersonations of a mobile phone. Lie on the floor and say "I'm switched off". To his credit, Wizz gets irony and frowns.

Afternoon opener - pretending to be chicken hatching out of egg - sets me thinking about Anka, currently possibly incubating my unborn baby in Riga. Retreat to hotel room, explaining to colleagues that may have symptoms of bird flu after spending New Year with pigeon fanciers. Later find note under door from Wizz saying course cancelled and how to claim full refund.

Friday: Should have persevered. As potential budgetary saving, Jerome has me trying out recycled ink cartridges in office printers. End day looking like clumsy painter-decorator.

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