What's your problem?

I'M AN ACCOUNTANT in an embarrassing situation. For the past seven years, I've been writing erotic stories for a top-shelf magazine. It started as a hangover from my student days but has turned into something profitable and fun. Obviously, I've kept this quiet from everyone at work, and I use a pseudonym.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

But last week, I went out with a colleague and came clean (partly because he'd seen a copy of the magazine in my briefcase - stupid error, I admit). I tried to swear him to secrecy but he keeps teasing me and I don't know what to do about it. I fear losing my job and it's making me paranoid at work.

A: I WONDER WHAT accountants did to earn their reputation? Maybe I've been lucky, but I've found accountants to be no more boring than politicians or publicans. And writing racy fiction as a sideline is definitely not boring. But neither is it illegal, shameful, or career-threatening.

The mistake you've made is a common one. By keeping an activity secret, you've allowed yourself to feel furtive about it. And the more furtive you feel, the more you dread people finding out about it. Now somebody has.

Your colleague must be hugging himself with glee. And his continuing glee is totally dependent on your fear of exposure.

So take a deep breath - and encourage the cat to escape from the bag. Tell a few mates in the pub that another colleague thinks he's caught you out in this guilty secret. To start with, I bet, they won't believe you; they'll think you're boasting. So tell them your pseudonym and show them the mag. It'll be round the office faster than e-mail.

I'll also bet you this. Even your boss will look at you with new interest. And it won't make the slightest difference to your career prospects.

Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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