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Correspondent&#39s week

I work from home. This means, many of you will assume accurately, reflecting my week, nothing more than converting big chunks of the TV Times into prose.

This is a little harsh but, truth be told, I do generally watch a lot of daytime telly and this week was no exception. I do not want your pity.

What I would ask of members of mainstream society is to understand that in a workmate vacuum, you would do the same.

It is not about all the fantastic things you learn from daytime schedules (this week alone, I learnt it is possible to buy tights called Wonderbum, that you can raise well-adjusted triplets and please your man and that all actors who appear in any Sunday night ITV1 drama series with heart in the title do nothing but chat to Lorraine Kelly when they are not solving minor crime or healing the sick to an uplifting nostalgic soundtrack), it is because the one and only thing I miss about offices is humans.

If you were to work from home, you, too, would find that Trisha – of the grim, eponymous talkshow where the lumpenproletariat wash their filthy laundry in public, would become your officious office manager.

She is the kind of woman who would see hell freeze over before letting you nick a biro or five and I like her.

You would also look to This Morning&#39s Fern as your earnest, well meaning but ultimately ineffectual HR manager. Judy, of Richard and Judy, fame would become your line manager, ruling with neither fear nor favour but always there to lend an ear when you turn up to the office suffering Boy Trouble.

It must be a lonely life which leads the human mind to create a virtual team but, with Trish, Fern and Jude, I never get to feel the full impact of my workday solitude. That said, at the usual round of Christmas parties recently, I found myself uncommonly overexcited in company – red-faced and unable to stop talking.

I went as a contributor to The Times Money party and stayed longer than many staffers, trying to justify my existence to a number of people who said they would not be able motivate themselves to work if they were freelance.

Motivation can be an issue and having had a pretty hectic 2003 (it is my first year of self-employment and I still do not know how to turn down work when I really ought to), I suppose I was looking forward to a good two to six weeks of wilful weight gain and Christmas-led handicrafts – in front of the box, naturally.

But I somehow managed to keep earning in the run-up to Christmas with a mixture of ongoing commitments (including two days a week for The Observer from home) and some corporate work.

But thank baby Jesus in his manger that filing 3,000 words this week has not managed to keep me from my 14-hour daily commitment to the tube while stitching 12 favour bags. Insomnia can be boring but it has its uses.

Looking ahead to the year, I hope to be busy and, to that end, you should know that you are always just an email away from crisp, clean, insightful, timely copy.

I can put you in touch with any number of competing freelancers who could meet your requirements.

Those kind enough to send work my way this month will find me filing from Barcelona, where I will be on a busman&#39s holiday for a month. Have laptop, will travel, pending clearance from Judy Finnegan, of course.

Helen Monks is a freelance journalist


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