I'm quite a helpful person. I'm also sometimes useful, which isn't quite the same thing.

Yesterday, Simon M called to say his computer had a virus which was making it unusable so could I sort out some security. I went around, thinking of the number of times I've been told a computer had a virus, only to find it had a corrupt registry, loose RAM chips or just a fragmented hard drive.

Judge then of my astonishment when it actually was a virus. A nasty and clever one too - it detected when I installed some cleanup software, and created a fake system emergency which made Windows shut down, forcing the user to either live with endless popups and a slow system, or reinstall the OS from scratch.

It beat me. All I could do was switch to the backup Windows installation I'd installed in a moment of foresight, and inoculate it with all the anti-virus and anti-spyware stuff I had.

After three hours I set off home, ready to catch up on all the sleep that hadn't happened the night before. But instead saw some comrades in a pub and felt morally compelled to join them.

Four hours later, pondering on how three people can individually have no money but can collectively buy each other too much beer, walking home and looking forward to an early night in bed, I got another call.

Roxanne C, who telephoned a few weeks ago to say her graduation film project was due in six hours so could I, erm, tell her how to do editing. Saying her brother Craig's final dissertation was due in fourteen hours and neither of them knew what to write so could I help.

Craig, who is young, slim, tall, dark and handsome, with the most gorgeous brown eyes. As well as irredeemably straight and about as organised as a hurricane in a scrapyard. About to fail a two year HND music course (roughly equal to two thirds of a degree), because although he's a very able multi-instrumentalist, he's not much good at writing about it.

Well, how could I say no? Seeing as I know pretty well why a trumpet sounds the way it does, but couldn't play one to save the world.

His dissertation concerns the integrability of non-western scales and playing techniques with western popular music. According to what he'd written, I was one of the experts he'd consulted. I remember the consultation - it took place while we were drunk in a pub, bellowing over a dreadful local band playing in a corner, about the role of prime numbers in traditional Indian sitar song structures.

It wasn't too difficult. All I had to do was tidy up a few sentences, write an extra thousand words, collate the bibliography and come up with a powerpoint presentation to summarise it all. With both of us drowsy and coming down with colds.

We even got a few hours sleep before the deadline, though not exactly simultaneously. It seems he can't sleep while I'm snoring, and I can't sleep while he's hitting me to make me stop. Apparently I have a very loud snore.

In the morning, we had three times the recommended dose of flu powder for breakfast, and thus invigorated I left to keep a brunch appointment with C, but he texted to cancel. He's got a stinking cold too. Get well soon, C.

So there we are. Another student helped up the academic ladder, another member of Roxanne's family who owes me a curry, and another reason why the world can't afford me to get a job.

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