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Correspondent&#39s Week

Wednesday lunchtime, the Chop House by Tower Bridge. This is when Correspondent&#39s Week technically starts for me because it is when a remark by Polhill PR Terry Hepplewhite triggers a memory that had been mercifully erased from my mind earlier.

This was the week when I had agreed, in some distant carefree past of about 10 days ago, to come up with the allotted 650 words.

My precise reaction would, Terry observed, make a good Out of Context.

But Terry being one of the few gentlemen in PR – I would not, of course, go so far as to say elder statesman – I am confident that it will remain a secret between me, Terry, John Moret of Winterthur Life and a passing waiter or two.

Lunch was to discuss the self-invested personal pension plan that Winterthur is launching in association with sister company Credit Suisse. With a brochure cover incorporating a hologram of numerous tiny cogs locking into one another, one can only assume that the scheme will work like clockwork.

In fact, it is a logical step for the company. Winterthur is adept at providing low-cost vehicles for Sipps while Credit Suisse has the experience of investment management. The two together make a good low-cost product with maximum total charges of 1 per cent a year – or less if you have more than £250,000 in the fund.

Wednesday lunch turns out to be the one haven of peace and tranquility in a bizarre and hectic week. The Sunday Times is to produce a two-part pull-out tabloid on 10 Steps to Financial Heaven.

It is a big venture for us. Yes, I know that other papers produce special tabloids like confetti at this time of the year but, being such a vast animal in circulation terms, the sheer cost of production makes the venture almost prohibitively expensive for the ST.

It means that real money – and lots of it – is riding on this. That means that a keen interest is taken by…well, it&#39s difficult to work out who among the upper echelons of editorial and executive powers is not intimately and deeply concerned about it, and not slow to let us know.

As one might imagine, such interest and concern displayed by half-a-dozen different departments with com peting and conflicting concerns – and the lively arguments that ensue – just go to make the job easier, simpler, more fulfilling and more relaxing for Paul Ham, maestro of the whole exercise, and myself, taking on the approximate role of first violin.

This week, we have been working on issue one. Next week, we will have the joy of repeating the exercise with issue two.

Having stopped being a full-time employee at the Sunday Times three years ago, I find this week that I had forgotten what it feels like to work 14-hour days.

It is strange to be back in the routine where you get in at half-past-eight in the morning and are sitting there at the screen at 10 o&#39clock at night, with only the gentle chatter of the subs (yes, by that time of night, even the subs are gentle) to disturb the air-conditioned silence. It is even quite nice.

Unfortunately for this column, the tabloid capers manage to fill almost my entire week.

Monday is enlivened only by a series of hearing tests at the London Hospital in Whitechapel. Last year, I developed tinnitus, a condition I would not wish on anyone although thankfully, in my case, the symptoms have declined to the extent that it is now inaudible in pubs and wine bars.

On Tuesday, I fail to get to Yorkshire Building Society&#39s do at the Atlantic Bar, which is a pity. However, I suspect that if I had gone, I would have been hounded by hacks eager to know who is the new editor of Sunday Times Money, now that Paul has decided to head back to Australia.

So I should make it plain, I have absolutely no inside knowledge on this – and it&#39s not worth asking me, folks!


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