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Correspondent&#39s week

Life, some wit once said, is God&#39s way of laughing at our plans. So, having registered with the Almighty&#39s database that I never wanted to work on a newspaper relaunch again, I have effectively been through three since I joined The Independent less than three years ago.

The latest, a compact version of the Save & Spend personal finance supplement, is an all-singing, all-dancing attempt to cajole the casual reader to take an interest in money. So far, it has been a raging success, which makes it all worthwhile.

We are now in week four, so the creative dust is settling a little. After deleting the usual shoal of emails, Monday morning consists of getting the first, preliminary, provisional list together before a meeting with my main co-conspirators, Sean O&#39Grady and Charlotte Ross.

That leads to another meeting with our deputy editor, Ian Birrell, before I head back to my desk and start commissioning. The likes of Tom Tickell, Faith Glasgow and Stephen Spurdon are getting used to calls begging for copy tomorrow or begging even more desperately for updates, expansions, enhancements and case studies by sooner than that. They are also used to having material sitting in my freelance folder for months on end so they need a variation of the zen approach to journalism to stop their heads exploding.

Escape to lunch at Plateau, Conran&#39s new glass-plated posing cafe in Canary Wharf. The client are two executives from Walker Crips Weddle Beck who, like so many City stockbrokers are turning themselves into fund (sorry, wealth) managers.

The PR is Paul Berthold, whose uncle, the veteran Fleet Street hand Don Johnson, subs at the Indy and comes along as eminence grise. Ominously, he has taken the day off to attend this lunch.

A generous round or two of cocktails delay our arrival at the table until gone 1.30pm. A wine sommelier who could pass for Pavarotti&#39s dad nudges our hosts into buying some outrageously expensive wines. The conversation takes on a surreal quality.I make my excuses and leave, letting Don wade through the Walker Crips expense account.

The following evening, I join Anne Ashworth of The Times and Jeff Prestridge of the Mail on Sunday to field questions at a financial services marketing group meeting. We must all have been living off raw red meat, for we mercilessly tear them to shreds for lousy service, misleading products, deceiving their customers, you name it. The audience sink lower and lower into their chairs, one person finally bleating: “Is there anything positive you can say about our industry?” That itself merited a good kicking.

Immediately afterwards, I joined David Holmes, Yorkshire Building Society&#39s PR, for dinner at Banquette, the Savoy&#39s “new chic American diner”, as it says on the website. It is about as much like an American diner as the Ivy is like your average greasy spoon, with one exception – due to a minor design fault, the distance between the table and the wall is less than the length of the chair. This means you can only leave the table by copying the shape of a chair and sliding sideways. No doubt this is part of the chic new American diner experience but it gave David a few laughs as the third bottle slipped down. This eased the pain of a thorough beating-up by David for daring to criticise building societies and this great movement of theirs. They are all such utterly nice people that it hurt me more than it hurt them but, come on, a hack&#39s gotta pay the rent, hasn&#39t he?

Back to Plateau the following day, where Pavarotti&#39s dad greets me like a long-lost brother. Does that make me Pavarotti&#39s uncle? Must get back on New Year diet. Tom Wyatt, the PR apologist for GE Capital, king of the store cards, was lunching me to say how they simply could not help charging the punters 30 per cent interest, it was some sort of force of nature.

I was so relaxed I went back to the office and spent the afternoon letting PRs talk to my voicemail and contentedly deleting their press releases.

William Kay is personal finance editor of the The Independent


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