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Correspondent&#39s week

As your latest fix of Correspondent&#39s Week is being filed from the Cotswolds, it seems appropriate that it should be accompanied by a quick blast of the theme tune from The Archers.

“Tum-tee, tum-tee, tum-tee, tum,

Tum-tee, tum-tee, tum-tum…”

Sunday can be a slow day in this neck of the woods. Fortunately, I remember that Alan Bannister, my neighbour and a partner at City law firm Vizards Wyeth, has forsaken his London pad to visit his country bolthole this weekend. Bannister is always good value for insurance industry gossip. What&#39s more, he has invited me to one of his legendary Sunday lunches.

It takes about 30 seconds to make the arduous journey from my humble abode to the far grander Bannister Towers. “We are having capon,” he declares. “That&#39s a castrated cock to you, Michael.” Gulp.

The repast sets me up in fine style for the week ahead. I have several freelance assignments on the go at the moment. If variety is the spice of life, my pointer is happily teetering around the notch marked Madras in terms of present output.

I spend Monday telling contacts about a new service on the Headlinemoney website called What Made the Trades? which I am helping to co-ordinate to start in June. Hopefully, it will provide extra exposure to those financial hacks who cover the B2B side of financial services. Another feature will give industry commentators the chance to have a regular say on their favourite trade stories making the headlines.

On Tuesday, I receive a call from Pensions Week&#39s Matthew Craig who needs a last-minute feature on the evolution of defined-contribution arrangements.

Having existed outside the comfort zone which comes from a regular wage for nearly five years, my approach to asset/liability matching is fairly basic. Whenever a commission comes in, it is earmarked to pay whichever bill is looming on the horizon. Matthew&#39s req-uest will help to reduce a sizeable exposure I enjoy with various utility companies around these parts.

On Wednesday, I wing down to London to attend the Headlinemoney Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane.

The first person I bump into is Adrian Webb, communications boss at Esure. He looks marginally more in need of a large gin than I do. It transpires that the company is soon to open a new office in Manchester. To launch the gig in style, Esure was hoping to use a daredevil abseiling crew to do some fancy entertaining while dangling high in the sky outside the new premises. Unfortunately, the kibosh has been put on arrangements, prompting frantic renegotiations.

I feel like telling Adrian to calm down when I am distracted by Invesco Perpetual&#39s Jane Bland, one of my delightful table hosts for the evening. The awards are a terrific success, with veteran political hack John Sergeant doing a great job steering the show.

Back in Gloucestershire the next day, I realise the Cotswolds are not totally barren when it comes to financial services gossip. A contact informs me that last night&#39s bash was not the only one featuring key industry faces. Apparently, a bunch of influential IFAs were being schmoozed the same evening by a major life office at the swanky Lygon Arms Hotel in picturesque Broadway.

With the advent of multities, I guess IFA operations will need to brace themselves for an array of tummy-tickling invitations over the next few months.

I would like to say I spent much of Friday drumming up fascinating feature ideas on topics such as what EU enlargement means for IFAs in Hull and so on. But I did not. Actually, I spent a lot of time trying to establish what the weather would be like in Newmarket over the weekend when the first horseracing Classic of the season, the 2,000 Guineas, would be run.

Another freelance feather in my (trilby?) cap means I now rejoice with the lofty job title of racing editor for Inside Edge, the new gambling lads&#39 mag. I filed my copy about the race ages ago and tipped a French horse called Whipper to land the spoils. But to stand a decent chance of winning, Whipper needs it to rain – heavily. Perhaps if the going turns muddy, I will be able to wave goodbye to utility bills for many years to come.

Andrew Michael is a freelance financial and racing journalist •”I had my feather duster in one hand and was wearing only my Arsenal boxer shorts.” – Lifesearch spokesman Kevin Carr on celebrating Arsenal winning the Premiership.

•The Diary would like to award Investors Partnership Research chairman Anthony Curtis with a gold star.

The former JO Hambro director remained cool, calm and collected under fire from an MM reporter&#39s questions about wrap platforms this week while rubble fell around him.

Nothing unusual, those of you who are regularly interrogated by media types might say, but Curtis carried on chatting as his house literally fell down around his ears.

Curtis is having a large amount of renovation done on his Tudor home which involves lots of drills, hammering and workmen whistling through their teeth.

The Diary hears that two members of Henderson Global Investors&#39 marketing team are going over the top to raise money for the British Paralympic Association.

The pair will be taking part in the British Commando Challenge in Dorset on May 8, tackling an assault course, carrying jet cans on stretchers, doing timed sit-ups and press-ups and completing a raiding craft task in Poole Harbour before finishing with an abseil.

Henderson head of marketing and research Rob Swan describes the tough conditions as “very similar to a day in the office with me”.

Organised by the Royal Marine Commandos, the event will raise money to send disabled athletes to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.


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