I couldn't believe the place. New job, new town, new home, and my first day at work was turning into a tour of Neverland.

I mean, I'd heard of the HR policies at the big IT research establishment where I'd just landed this plumb job, and of course when I got the job offer I'd jumped at it, even though it meant moving to Palo Alto. But I'd never realised how far it all went.

Did you know there's a rule: you're never more than a hundred yards from food? And the food is free. And there are relaxation rooms dotted about all over the place, all with a different layout and atmosphere. In some you can play games on a wall-sized screen while sitting on, or in, a beanbag. In others you can surround yourself with books and curl up in a big overstuffed chair by a real fire while you read. In others you can prop up a bar and chat, or dance under the disco lights. There are table tennis tables, pool tables, squash courts, two swimming pools, it's amazing anyone gets any work done at all. But they say they want their people at their creative best, and so they need to be happy, relaxed and stress-free. And this apparently is the way to get that. I'm not complaining!

I was being shown around by this cute girl who looked like a school-leaver but she said she'd been there three years already, since the centre was first set up. And we were interrupted by a tannoy system which was announcing various social events coming up. The Bridge club, the hiking club, the Grass Court Tennis association, the open source committee, even the dungeon masters. I was trying to listen to my tour guide but the tannoy kept taking my attention, especially to the announcement that the first meeting of the Homo Nerds Support Group was to take place the following evening in Sun Lounge F.

This, I thought, was just too good to be true. A social group that fitted me like a glove. You have to understand, gay geeks don't fit into most social groups terribly well. Not in my experience anyway. And now I'd landed a job where they had a club for us! Fantastic!

I asked the school-leaver where Sun Lounge F was, and noted the details down on my PDA.

By the following evening I was feeling a little more at home. I'd established myself at my desk in the open plan but quiet and private cubicle in the big room which held no less than thirty cubicles like mine. Nevertheless once ensconced in my nice leather chair, I could pretend there was no-one else in earshot. At the end of the day's work I enjoyed a good meal in the cafeteria two doors from my office before scooting home for a shower and change, and then back to the office to find Sun Lounge F. I wore my favourite tight leather trousers and a sleeveless skin tight t-shirt. I spiked my hair a little and shoved my coolest shades on the top of my head. Black leather loafers, no socks. A final check in the mirror hair, nose, fly and I was satisfied. Sun Lounge F here I come.

It turned out to be a sort of enormous conservatory built on the roof. As I walked in, a middle aged woman in twin set and pearls came up to me, her determined smile faltering a little at the sight of me, but she persevered and welcomed me to the new group, handed me what she called a welcome pack and pointed out the refreshments area and the seating, very comfy cushioned cane chairs.

I glanced at the cover of the welcome pack and my legs gave way so it was just as well I was standing right against one of the big chairs. It said: Home Owners Support Group.