A writer?s life is a lonely one. After I?ve dropped my daughter off at the station to catch the train to school each morning and my wife has left for work at about 8.15, the probability is that I won?t see another human being until I pick my daughter up at 4.30 in the afternoon. Only rarely do I catch a fleeting glimpse of the postman as he makes his way up our drive in mid-morning. That?s because my office is at the back of the house. It looks out onto a fence. Not a particularly inspirational sort of fence either. But it keeps my neighbour?s springer spaniel apart from our golden retrievers so it works well enough, which is about all you can reasonably ask of a fence.

Although as a rule I don?t see other people, I do receive the occasional phone call, which brightens up my day, especially if it?s from someone other than a double-glazing salesman. And then, of course, there are the frequent cups of tea to enliven proceedings.

I used to work in a friendly office and enjoyed the banter and bonhomie but simply couldn?t cope with commuting. An hour-and-a-half each way was too big a chunk of my life to spend on crosswords and so I jacked in conventional employment and opted for the precarious existence of a freelance.

I tell you this not to elicit sympathy but simply to explain why I was so enormously thrilled to be invited to the Golf Monthly Christmas party last week. Because I was so excited about meeting all the mates I?d not seen since the Open at Carnoustie and others I?d never met at all, even the tedious journey up to London seemed a lot shorter than usual.

Although it lacks a fence at the back, the Blue Fin building in Southwark Street is very impressive, especially to a country boy making a rare excursion up to The Smoke. What a privilege it was to set foot in the hallowed IPC corridors where such great titles as ?Cage and Aviary Birds,? ?Decanter? and ?Land Rover World? are produced, not to mention our beloved Golf Monthly. How different the lively buzz that permeates these offices is to the mute emptiness inside which I normally operate.

I so enjoyed chatting with these stimulating and friendly folk that I began to wonder whether quitting office life had been a huge mistake. And then on the way home I got stuck on ?24 down? and remembered why I had. Hang on, I think I can hear the postman.

No, it wasn?t him or, for that matter, anyone else. Time for a cup of tea, methinks.