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Correspondent&#39s Week

Having lived in London for almost two years, I arrived back in Edinburgh

with mixed emotions – thrilled to be back in Scotland and absolutely

ecstatic to be no longer living in England.

It is the dream of every Scottish, middle-class, privately educated

aspiring journalist to one day work for The Scotsman or at least it is the

dream of parents of such children. My mother, who has recently moved to

Edinburgh from the family seat in Wick, has found that dinner invitations

from New Townites have been flowing thick and fast since she announced to

approximately half of the English-speaking world that her son is the

financial correspondent at The Scotsman.

With several billion people anxiously waiting for the paper to hit the

streets on Tuesday morning to read my inaugural ramblings, I am

understandably a little nervous when I arrive on Mon day morning.

I am not worried about my ability to hack it at a national newspaper, I am

worried that my new office is next to the building site which is to become

Scotland&#39s parliament and there is not a sandwich shop around for miles.

I decide to play safe and take a piece with me. But my wife, who is a New

Zealan der and unfamiliar with the Scottish colloquialism for sandwich,

thinks it is anything but safe for me to take a gun to work.

I put her straight on what a piece is and while I&#39m at it I explain to her

that when people ask her if she would like a juice, this incorporates the

full spectrum of beverages ranging from tea to coke.

She is a little bit angry that I did not make it clear that English is the

second language North of the border.

My first day goes quite well. Everyone is very nice. They show me where

the toilets are and how to use my computer. Just when I am beginning to

feel like a part of the furniture, my boss reveals that he has resigned and

will quit the paper at the end of the week.

I think it a little premature as he has not even read anything I have

written but he assures me his decision to leave has nothing to do with my

arrival. At 5.30pm, I get my second shock of the day when people don&#39t just

down tools and head off. Having to work beyond 5.30 is putting my entire

system under intense pressure and I very nearly spontaneously combust when

I&#39m told that it is the norm for Scotsman journalists to pay for lunch when

they are out with contacts.

This goes against everything I have ever believed in and truly valued. I

assume this is just a standard trick they play on the new boy. Watch him

pay for lunch and then all have a jolly good laugh. I feel guilty.

If I&#39m paying for lunch, then it means I&#39m doing the one and only valued

function of a PR and I don&#39t want job losses on my conscience. I can barely

contain my concern when the clock strikes 7pm and there is still no

definitive sign that people are about to leave. I exit the building shortly

after 8pm, drained but relieved that my first day, give or take the odd

resignation, went pretty well.

On Tuesday, I don&#39t pack a piece as I discovered yesterday there is a

canteen downstairs. By 2.30, I&#39m in need of sustenance as we have had to

clear five business pages before the Budget kicks off at 3.30. For some

reason, they think I understand pensions and taxation and, despite my

protestations to the contrary, I draw the short straw and have to write two

stories about capital gains tax.

I crawl out the building at 9pm and my heart sinks further that Wednesdays

no longer masquerade as days off the way they did at MM. I battle through

to the end of the week, relatively unnoticed as everyone is more concerned

about who is going to be appointed business editor.

I take my wife out for dinner on Friday night, where she reliably informs

me that “the weather has been a bit dreecht” and “that she saw a wee bairn

today that just wouldn&#39t stop greeting”.

It doesn&#39t sound quite right said in an Antipodean accent but I appreciate

that the last seven days have been a massive learning curve for both of us.


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