It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do it. Quite the opposite in fact.

I do hope my face demonstrated my willingness to do it – I think it did – but I have very little control over my face. No, there was no reluctance whatsoever; rather, I just didn’t know if it was possible.

Working life has changed considerably since I first walked into an office intent on earning some wonga. The job was at the South London Press newspaper back in 1994. Desk space was sparse; it had a copy of the Yellow Pages (back in the day when ripping them in two was a mark of masculinity and strength), a phone and a permanently stuffed ashtray. There I would sit, at sixteen years old, working my way through the phonebook trying to sell advertising to the good business owners of Streatham whilst puffing on a Lambert & Butler.

Those were happy days. Simple days. They began at nine and ended at five. Lunch break was an hour(ish) and the majority of us usually returned from them considerably less sober then when we left.

Peter Fortune's Ramblings: A day in the life of a 'gym badger'

It is almost incredible to remember how, once you left the office, that was it! Be it an evening or the weekend, once you were gone you were gone. I appreciate that this concept must seem almost unbelievable to the modern young worker but I tell you it was so! Without the constant flood of e-mails, being out the office meant you were essentially unreachable. If you called somebody at home and they weren’t there you’d think to yourself, ‘Oh, they’re not there’ and you’d carry on with your day. Not like now, if you have the temerity to not answer your phone, you are swamped with voicemails and, ‘Where R U?????’ text messages.

For the majority of us the workday was a contained, managed space. It was separated from your home-life and work was a solely office based pursuit. So when, earlier this week my boss said to me, ‘Peter, can we have a quick meeting before we start work?’ my immediate but involuntary answer was, ‘How?’

I didn’t mean to be facetious it was just that the concept stuck me as strange. Of course, if my clever, intelligent and handsome boss (he may be reading this) requires my presence then he shall indeed have it. I can think of nothing better than discussing Gantt charts and Forward Planners before the clock strikes nine and would, I’m sure, lay awake the night before in fervent excitement. But how can we start these important and exciting activities before we start work?

My wonderful Boss, let’s call him Sam as that’s his name, looked at me in that splendid way he does. It’s rather like a confused cat watching a mouse attempt to play Für Elise on the glockenspiel. The cat will pounce in a minute but for now it simply wonders what the hell is this thing doing.

‘What I mean is’ I fumble, ‘how can we do some work before we start work.’ He smiles and I press on, ‘Because we’d need to be at work to do it right?’ Nothing back. ‘So, what I mean is, if I’m here working in non-work time how can we….’ At this point the managerial paw thumps down and puts me out of my misery. ‘08:30 OK?’ he asks.

As I say, I don’t mind getting in early. I am usually at my desk long before my contracted hours and normally a great deal afterwards. I don’t know many people who take a full lunch hour and who remembers coffee breaks? ‘Work’, as the lesser famous Parkinson noted, ‘expands so as to fill the time available…’ and like many others my hours are not confined to the initial legal agreement.

But, at the same time, I have noticed that life is also bleeding into work. I remember when personal calls at work were taken in secretive and hushed tones, hands cupped over the mouth piece as if relaying nuclear codes. Tedious supervisors would prowl the floor recording each call in a note book, shaking their heads in disapproval. A holiday needed to be booked a year in advance and you had to call in sick three days before you got ill.

Look around any office today and people are openly and merrily tapping away on personal mobile phones, receiving parcels from the internet or using work computers to remodel their bathrooms.

Should we redraw these boundaries or has the work environment changed to a point where it would be impossible to return to those free weekends and unanswered phone messages?

I’m not sure. We’re all permanently plugged in and constantly bombarded with information by 24-hour rolling news, streaming twitter feeds and a flashing red light on the mobile signalling that yet another e-mail has arrived.

When we unplug we fall behind, get lost, we’re cut-out and lose our authority in the decision making. It feels as if there is an unspoken race to see who can answer messages the fastest, the earliest or who is still working late into the night.

Perhaps we need it? Perhaps work and life have become so intertwined that we would feel bad to be left out of anything? Perhaps I need it? That’s why I check e-mails at the weekend and on holiday – I’ve got to be seen to be committed. I need to be a part of the team with eyes-on-the-prize. I’m 100% in and leaving it all on the pitch. If I am going to be an integral part of this team then I need to roar like a champion. That’s what I am going to do! How silly of me to even hesitate when the offer to work extra hours for free was generously offered.

But, how do I communicate all this to my Boss? How to let him know that I will go the extra mile? Half an hour early – pah! – let’s make it 7AM after I’ve redecorated the office and alphabetised the stationary cupboard.

‘Of course’ I dutifully replied, ’08:30 it is boss’ and then the masterstroke.. ‘I’ll bring coffee.’ Genius.

‘It’s ok’, he smiled, ‘I’ll have had a cup in the first meeting’.

Damn it.