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Correspondent&#39s week

A week with no business lunches to look forward to did not result from any lack of invitations but my diet, necessitated by instructions from a chiropractor to lose two stone.

The drastic action, which resulted in non-essential eating engagements being banished from my diary, was to cure a bout of lower back pain – thankfully now on the mend.

Dr Penny O&#39Nions was kind enough to try and guess the cause during a telephone interview for Health Insurance magazine, diagnosing “too much bonking”. My chiropractor disagreed and traced the problem to accepting lifts in a friend&#39s low-seated MG. This was fortunate because the latter practice is somewhat easier to give up.

In retrospect, the extended lunch curfew was a blessing in disguise as my new upper limit of 14 stone had already been severely tested at the end of the previous week.

A Deutsche Bank press party on the Thursday had included king-sized hamburgers in its definition of canapés. An essential lunch hosted the next day by Ian Cowie for his Telegraph writers also involved generous portions of halibut. (I have only once during my career been invited to cannibalise on turbot, courtesy of Intelligent Finance.) The Deutsche affair managed to distinguish itself very slightly from the standard look-over-your-shoulder job by offering the chance to have a free head massage and tattoo.

Arriving home with I Love Helen tattooed on my right wrist resulted in the afore-named and all her friends agreeing that she had the sweetest boyfriend in the whole world. What a pity that the work was designed to wash away in five days.

A further unexpected bonus from the same party came from learning that Julian Marr and I went to the same school. It was certainly strange suddenly to uncover such common ground with someone who had commissioned work from me for years.

The Telegraph lunch provided a valuable opportunity finally to put faces to names in the case of a sizeable collection of blond females. It was also a pleasure to stumble across a corner of town fair-minded enough to acknowledge that David Aaron was more unlucky than evil.

Towards the end of the meal, pleasantries aimed in my direction moved up a gear when I revealed that I would be reviewing everyone&#39s efforts in the forthcoming Headline Money review which, with the exception of a visit to the cinema, ensured that the weekend was largely about work.

Monday morning, true to form, involved not hearing from a range of experts who were unavailable for trade surveys the previous week but who, according to promises from their PRs, were guaranteed to phone first thing.

Without exception, they then insisted on calling at those times during the week when I very least wanted to hear from them which, to be fair, in this particular week was just about all the time.

By Tuesday afternoon, an already busy month was turned into a nightmare by calls from three national newspapers and three magazines. All wanted things done in days and, in one case, hours.

If any lunches had been in my diary, they would have been immediately cancelled. Apart from Helen, my cleaning lady and my chiropractor, the only other human beings to have experienced face-to-face contact with me this week have been local shopkeepers.

Comfort-eating is essential when you are burning the midnight oil and my fridge remains packed full of low-fat everything – even low-fat fat.

One of the great joys of being freelance is that I can usually watch Sky TV on my exercise bike while awaiting incoming phone calls. Once the emergency mode starts, however, bike time is reserved for reviewing the hard copy of pieces near completion.

Under this sort of pressure, even the most important non-work-related commitments can slip your mind but fortunately I avoided a very painful death by remembering to rush out and get a Valentine&#39s card. But even this foresight could be explained by receiving such a huge quantity of – frankly quite pathetic – press releases trying to cash in on the Valentine&#39s Day theme.

Edmund Tirbutt is a freelance financial journalist


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