Stressed? Me?

It was not what could be classed as “a good day”.

I got to my desk at 7am, only to find the entire email system had crashed. Again. Two-and-a-half hours of an attempted ‘rebuild’ later – and feeling reluctant to cut-and-run at this crucial stage of the proceedings – I had to telephone my accountant to cancel our scheduled appointment.

The rebuild failed (of course it did – why wouldn’t it – my computer hates me). So I started again, cancelling my next meeting of the day, and at the same time calculating the impact this is going to have on next week’s schedule. A laptop, dongle, and King Size Mars Bar were the only things that were now keeping me going.

In theory, being self-employed means that I’m able to time deliveries, and have any work that needs to be done to my house pretty much to suit my needs. But – to all family, friends and work colleagues (as well anyone out there thinking of going self-employed to reap this rich benefit) – I should point out that life isn’t always that simple.

If you’re going to have builders, painters and decorators and various odd-jobbers crawling around your house, then you can expect to make-up time lost making numerous cups of tea by working late into the night.

Add to this the need to get your car to the garage for servicing on the same day, and a pressing need to make sure your birthday card to your friend and associate reaches him just one day late, and you’re adding on layers of stress with a trowel.

(Stress which, I should also point out, cannot be alleviated by slumping in front of the television at night – because, hey, that was disconnected three weeks ago when the builders first arrived…).

Just to crank it up another couple of notches, the courtesy car in the drive was pretty-much out of petrol, and I’d also just had two telephone calls checking if I’d be “around now” to take delivery of my new carpet and sofa.

So I set off in the courtesy car to the post-box (three miles away) in the hope that a) I didn’t run out of petrol and b) nothing would be delivered while I was out.

And when I got back, I set about trying to rebuild the system. Again.

In case you’re interested, the new carpet came, and it looked great. The furniture came, and is fabulous.

And my final attempt at a rebuild failed.

My third visitor of the day was my I.T. chap, who arrived at 4.30pm, and rebuilt the entire system in about 20 minutes while – far from showing any signs of stress – actually had time to show me pictures of his newborn baby doing an impersonation of Bruce Forsythe. (I kid you not).

At one low point during that never-to-be-forgotten day, I had no car, no TV, no PC. No hair. And no finger-nails.

But the most telling remark of the day came from one of the chaps who brought me my shiny, new sofa. Making all of the usual small talk, and doing a terrific job, one of them looked at me, weighed-up his next question carefully, and said: “So – are you retired, then?”