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Correspondent&#39s week

One of the joys of working for a Sunday newspaper is that Mondays tend to be quiet in the office. It is a good time to catch up on important things such as planning future features and replying to readers&#39 letters.

Rachel, Jeff&#39s PA, interrupts proceedings but fortunately she is more interested in talking about ER, the OC (Orange County) and BB (Big Brother) than the FSA, ABI or AITC.

At 11am, there is a deluge of phone calls. When I joined Financial Mail, I expected I would be dealing with some of the industry&#39s big hitters. Instead, as usual, my morning is spent providing a glorified directory enquiries service for bemused readers.

Today, it&#39s: What is the phone number for The Children&#39s Mutual?&#39 and &#39Do you have the postal address for the Financial Odd-mans-bum?&#39 Then there are the slightly more challenging: &#39Where&#39s the best place to change my holiday money?&#39 and &#39Who is ING Bank and will they run off with my savings?&#39 More distressing is the woman who telephones to say her husband&#39s critical illness policy won&#39t pay out even though he can no longer work, because his condition – a form of epilepsy – is not covered in the terms. It&#39s depressing stuff and I offer to help if I can.

I&#39m glad to get away for lunch, which is with Bev Aujla from PR empire Lansons. I fight my way past the anti-Mail demonstrators camped outside our office and onto the ever-reliable circle line to head east.

The rather grandiose venue is the Great Eastern Dining Rooms in Shoreditch. But when I get there it seems a shame to be inside its wood panelled walls on one of the hottest days of the year so far. God, I&#39m spoilt.

On Tuesday I come into the office early to cut out the business sections of the papers. Everyone on the desk takes it in turns to do this so we can keep tabs on our rivals.

There is an interesting tale in the Mail about parents forking out to help their children onto the property ladder. I keep this one as an optimistic addition to my Father&#39s Day card.

This week, among other things, I&#39m writing about how to save money on your holiday by swapping your home with another family overseas. Most of the day is spent desperately searching for willing case studies.

Wednesday morning I go along to the IMA asset management survey briefing on Kingsway in central London. Then it&#39s straight back to the office to get writing.

At lunchtime I force myself to go to the torture chamber in the basement of our building Northcliffe House, which has been thinly disguised as a gym.

I suppose I should be used to spending a hot and sweaty hour underground as a seasoned circle line commuter, but I stagger back to my desk after a pitiful attempt at a workout.

The treadmill training is necessary. It is just a week until the Square Mile Run for the charity Crisis. Financial Mail has entered a team and I don&#39t want to let them down. But when your editor and team captain could give Moses Tanui a run for his money you can&#39t help feeling it&#39s a losing battle.

At least the evening is lively. Axa-PPP&#39s John Dubois has invited me and two other journalists to BBC Centre to watch the filming of the next series of Swiss Toni, the Fast Show spin-off.

On Thursday morning we conduct our weekly ritual otherwise known as &#39I&#39m not doing the Statistics Station&#39. This column is not popular among my colleagues. We need 350 words on savings plus colourful graphs and/or pie charts to liven up our best buy tables.

Sounds easy enough, but when I do it the sub-editors have their work cut out. The data I provide has been known to have more comebacks than Sinatra.

Toby Walne hides in the stationary cupboard until the panic subsides and thankfully Stephen Womack draws the short straw. I don&#39t feel too sorry for him, he does get to &#39work from home&#39 two days a week.

By the time I arrive in the office on Friday the section is on the page. We read through everything in order to spot our deliberate mistakes. I hope the day will go smoothly. This evening I am catching a train up to Yorkshire, my spiritual home, for the bank holiday weekend.

Jo Thornhill is a reporter at the Financial Mail

•”I&#39m just taking a break from being the new Kate Moss.” – Mortgage man Mark Chilton.


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