Start at the bottom: Neil Start sinks during his radio debut - and loses out in love, too

Tuesday: I have been daydreaming at the Goldfish Action Group, counting the minutes until I can slip off to lunch with Anka, our Latvian receptionist, or better still slope off to her place at the end of the day. Keep looking around to see if anyone at GAG has detected our romance from my unvarying wardrobe, but they are all hatchet-faced because Raisers Edge, our new fundraising computer program, has crashed. I have a sinking feeling that I might be the problem, after putting less than 100 per cent effort into hitting the right command keys as I was weeding out deceased members from the database.

I made myself scarce by confiding about Anka to the goldfish in the tanks that line our subterranean Thames-side office. At least it won me brownie points with David, our chairman. "Glad to see you're working on your office relationships," he said as he passed me muttering at a sheet of plate glass.

Wednesday: Last night Anka sent me home before dinner. I was reluctant but didn't want to appear too desperate. She needed space, she said. Any hopes of an enlightening heart-to-heart with my Neanderthal flatmate Vorderman were dashed when I found him asleep on the sofa in his dressing gown at 9.30pm with a bottle of Vimto in one hand and Carol's fanzine in the other.

Early night, so arrived bright-eyed at the office to catch up on my next Pond Life Q&A column for our membership magazine. I took a call meant for Clare, our head of policy, who is now on indefinite sick leave because of the infected henna goldfish tattoos on her arms. I found myself agreeing to take part in Radio 4's You and Yours.

It was live at midday at Broadcasting House and my plan was to swot up a bit on the subject - how different languages describe goldfish and the unseemly EU row over a new Brussels directive to pet shop owners. But sadly my 'crime' in crashing Raisers Edge was discovered by the visiting engineer and the dressing down gave me only enough time to dash to the studio. No prep, and it was my first time live on national radio. My fellow guests were arch-Eurosceptic Bill Cash and an Esperanto speaker - both old hands at it. I certainly learnt a lot about goldfish. The English call them gold, the French red, the Spanish simply coloured, while in reality they are orange. Bill thought such diversity was sacrosanct and that we must leave the EU at once to protect it. Miss Esperanto believed that the adjectival flexibility could save the day. And me? Faced by their eloquence, I stammered and, to hide my embarrassment, tried to translate Bill Cash into Latvian, of which I have only the most tenuous grip.

Back at the office, I regretted the advance email I'd circulated about my moment in the spotlight. A double dose of shame in one day. Plus Anka had left early. On my desk was a short note. I've been dumped.

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