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A Shaw thing

Sam Shaw is a reporter on Money Marketing

After only a day back in the office after a lovely, though not sunny, week off in Majorca, I was up in the middle of the night to catch a flight to the land of Guinness, leprechauns and the magnificent but slightly scary-sounding Druid’s Glen resort, about an hour south of Dublin to meet Clarkson Hill business for their annual conference.

An informative and entertaining day was followed by a gala dinner, hosted by the charming Jack Charlton. A group photo caused me to get a little, erm, familiar, with the superb Dan Russell from The Hartford, but apart from that I came away relatively unscathed.

Personally, I blame the 3.30 am start and the long day I’d had for the fact that I had to push back my 8am breakfast meeting, rather than the fact I was still sleeping off too much vino blanco.

Number of times an IFA said: “Don’t tell her anything, she’s a journalist.” Way too many. And it wasn’t that funny the first time.

Annie Shaw is a freelance financial journalist

To the Museum of Brands Packaging and Advertising to celebrate Which? magazine’s first half century. The museum, tucked in a mews in the back of beyond of Ladbroke Grove looks like being London’s best kept secret, as the map supplied by the museum giving directions to the party’s location proved unintelligible to anyone but the most seasoned orienteering buff. I arrived somewhat dishevelled having taken the scenic route in a downpour. It was, however, worth it. Inside the museum is housed the truly stupendous collection of Robert Opie, a compulsive hoarder of packaging since he was a teenager.

Having embarrassed myself by mistaking Which?’s personal finance campaigner Doug Taylor for someone else and asking him if he was enjoying his new job – well, my glasses were steamed up – it was time to bury myself in the canapés while wishing I could be some where else so that I could hide my discomfit.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith was a jovial host and circulated among the guests. In his address to the crowd, he recalled the early endeavours of the so-called “Association of Consumer Research”, which began life testing, among other things, products that could kill you. The role of the shopper’s friend, better known in later years as the Consumers’ Association and now dubbed with the name of its principal publication, in recommending subsequently doomed endowments as the preferred way to pay off a mortgage was hastily glossed over.

Later in the week, I caught up with Justin Modray, refreshed since leaving IFA Bestinvest, after vacations in California and Turkey. Modray is now thinking about returning to the world of work and says he is considering “several options”. Watch this space.

Number of outstanding payments received this month for more than four weeks’ worth of work done for a leading national newspaper: 0.

Esther Shaw is deputy personal finance editor at the Independent on Sunday

So while my dear right-hand man has been busy getting hitched to his bride all the way over the other side of The Pond, I’ve been busy manning the Indie fort in a week filled with IHT, Tories and trusts.

That said, I managed to drag myself away from discounted gifts and income bonds to also join in the 50th birthday celebrations of consumer champ extraordinaire, Which?

On arrival, I was met by the PR officer Helen Ainsworth, who insisted on giving me a glass of champagne, despite my protestations that I had a netball match to go to. Bubbly in hand, I soon got talking to a pair of senior Which? figures about some of their campaigns, and was amused when one confessed that he had not switched any of his financial products or utilities since taking up the post with the organisation.

Elsewhere this week, I joined The Times’ Becky O’Connor and Savills’ Mel Bien for chatter over chopsticks at Zuma. This was the first time I’d been back to this classy Knightsbridge venue since heading there for dinner a little while ago, a bit under the influence. This, as Mel was quick to remind me, was because she and I had had a rather long lunch at the Wolseley, at the end of which I’d convinced myself that it would be a good idea to go and say hello to Jimmy Nail who was sitting at an adjacent table.

All I can say is thank God for Mel deciding that it would be a better idea that I got in a taxi to my next social engagement.

Advisers from Hargreaves Lansdown who were still trying to scrounge an invite to the ABI awards at the time of going to print. One. I’ve told him if he fails, he can sit on my lap.

Advisers from John Scott and Partners who have asked if they can come along to my leaving do – saying he promises to be on best behaviour. One. I’ll have a champagne, thanks.

Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Sam Shaw, email: or telephone: 020 7943 8042


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