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Correspondent&#39s Week

Wednesday is a regular day at the Swiss Life office – emails, phone calls, demands and the stress of trying to remember how to assemble (we are exhibiting at a conference next week) our all-singing, all-dancing stand we bought earlier in the year.

Consequently, the office is strewn with boxes, panels and rods we do not know what to do with. We end up getting mighty fed up and going down the pub for a G&T.

Thursday is an entire day of meetings with important people (management team) followed by a curry. Unfortunately, I live too far away to get a cab home so I look on bemusedly as colleagues get drunk and demonstrate their new taste in leather waistcoats and what their girlfriends looked like when they acquired a tattoo on their bottom. I fly back around the M25 and collapse into bed.

On Friday, the office is very quiet due to the events the night before. People move about quietly and hope that no one will notice how green they look or ask them any difficult questions. I am smug and not hung over. I spend Friday night in with a takeaway with my husband-to-be.

I fall asleep on the sofa only to be woken by his yelling at the TV which I ascertain with one eye open is showing Steve Redgrave winning his fifth gold at the Olympics in Sydney.

On Saturday, I wake up to find out Denise Lewis has won a gold in the women&#39s heptathlon and get a bit misty-eyed and patriotic when she goes to accept her medal. I yearn for a six-pack like Denise.

Sunday is spent driving to Portsmouth to stay in Mrs Miggins&#39 Vilest of Vile Hotel so that we can go to see Bob Dylan play at the Civic Hall.

I try to soak up the atmosphere with our mate yelling: “Bob, Bob, Johnny&#39s in the basement mixing up the medicine&#39 C&#39mon, Bob, one more time. C&#39mon.”

Then the old hippie ends and BD just stands there – with the lights in the auditorium up and the crowd yelling and screaming – and stares for an eternity as if it is the last time he will see this sort of thing.

On Tuesday, I drive from London to Brighton to prepare for our fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference. The subject is employee health and welfare and we have a distinguished panel of speakers, including Owen Tudor from the Trades Union Congress, who is superb.

The day finishes with dinner at the Metropole Hotel and I sit next to Tony Coleman MP who succeeded David Mellor. We discuss everything from petrol tax (inevitably) to my aspirations of being an MP in later life. He departs for the evening telling me: “You must join the Labour Party, my dear.” How things have changed.

On Wednesday, I am back in the office straight into final preparations for the employee benefits conference. The courier has let us down so a colleague has to drive everything to London for us.

Wednesday is Jive night. We are now into our fourth class and have learnt a good few variations of twists and turns. I never realised the woman does all the work and the guy more or less stands there. I get very hot and then we are told to change partners. I am teamed up with a small guy with limp arms and we spend an embarrassing period dancing but trying not to look at each other.

Husband-to-be is teamed

up with a woman who is much more assertive and not at all limp- armed. The two of them look like a tug of war match with both trying to lead the proceedings.

HTB makes her succumb and I catch him out of the corner of my eye twirling her around to the point of exhaustion. She ends the dance all red- faced and short of breath. “Ooooh, that was fast,” she says, and tells her husband “You need to lead like that, Dave.”


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