My Week: Roll on Friday - I don't have to face the fax: Commuter David Axford gets a three-day break from work, courtesy of the striking signal workers

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The Independent Online
Monday - In to work early today: because of the rail strike, I'll not make it in again until Friday, and want to clear as much as I can. The main objective of the day, however, is to convince a sceptical line manager that I can hire a fax machine cheaply, and work from home for three days. He agrees, no doubt moved by my sob story that I would have to get up before dawn to drive into London from deepest Sussex. I get away at a reasonable hour with only a handful of work left to do. I've become well used to using the home computer as an office workstation this past five weeks, so foresee no problems.

Tuesday - It's the last day of term, and I set up the fax machine after dropping the kids at school. Call the office and ask for a dummy run before getting down to work. I call again 10 minutes later when nothing happens, and again another 10 minutes after that. No luck. Three calls to the supplier fail to identify, let alone sort out, the problem.

In the midst of it all, Mum rings: 'Nothing serious, but Dad fell over while gardening, and has had five stitches in his face.' Waiting with mounting frustration for a non-existent message, I am less sympathetic than the occasion perhaps requires.

Ian from the equipment suppliers calls later with a fax machine that works, but my printer gives up the ghost, so the fruits of a morning's labour are eventually transmitted to London - handwritten. Nothing comes in the opposite direction.

5Wednesday - 10am. The fax sits silently in the hall, so I count the takings from the PTA's end-of-term disco: pounds 170 profit. Not bad for an evening's work - and the tinies' class will get a couple of cassette recorders when school resumes in September. It got a bit of a pasting from the Ofsted inspectors, but the number of kids leaving for the last time in tears demonstrates that the staff must be doing something right.

Still no disturbance from London, so I remind the office who I am, and a bored voice informs me that they're all too busy to walk down the corridor to the fax room.

Even though nothing has grown in the past month because of the drought, I mow the lawn in preference to decorating the bedroom.

Thursday - The heavens opened in the night, and the garden looks faintly swamp- like as it steams in the morning sunshine. Not much chance of mowing today, so congratulate myself for having chosen well yesterday.

Still nothing from work by mid-morning, and I've given up even chasing them. I write a couple of letters, a draft article for a local magazine and a note to myself to get the printer fixed.

Mum calls again and I make reassuring noises about my concern for the old man's bruises. Peace is restored.

Friday - Wake with the hideous thought that I have to drag myself out of bed at some ungodly hour and become a commuter again. The train arrives at its allotted time, as if it had always done so, and I take my seat and hide behind the morning paper.

Two stops down the line a middle-aged gent, already starting to sweat in a suit and shirt made entirely of fraying man-made fibre, sits down heavily beside me and tries to force my arm from the seat rest between us. I stiffen my arm and pass a brief, hostile glance in his direction. He mutters something I don't catch and sits in the seat opposite. It's good to be back.

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