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Correspondent&#39s Week

I work a Tuesday to Saturday week so Monday is spent pottering and plotting for the week ahead. My token work call is to Liz Dolan, our delightfully eccentric personal finance editor, to decide on a feature to write this week. We plump for a look at the way in which banks, insurers and credit card companies advertise their wares on TV and in the press.

I then head out to watch the England game over at Canary Wharf. We find a bar with beer, seats and a sufficient number of yobbish types to create an atmosphere. A group of young bankers have an impressive new chant: “He&#39s fat, he&#39s Scouse, he&#39ll probably rob your house. Roon-ey, Roon-ey.”

I spend the first hour of Tuesday morning lying face down on an osteopath&#39s couch as he coaxes a series of terrifying crunching sounds from my back. From there I limp gingerly to a news conference at our City office in Moorgate, where we kick around a few feature ideas for the business section and decide on the big hunting grounds for news.

My lunch is cancelled so I head out for a run, plodding along Embankment for an hour, trying to think of semi-intelligent questions to ask the FSA about advertising.

As it happens, the City watchdog is in a loquacious mood and hands me what has the makings of a decent story. But, as ever, I am left worrying whether any of those pesky journalists on the daily papers will get “my” story before the weekend.

Sifting through my mail on Wednesday, I find a package sent from an American lady we featured in Fore Street – the new City diary I put together – the previous Sunday. She has kindly sent me eight pictures of her pet dog and a long letter outlining the poor creature&#39s latest woes. She says she is London-bound and looks forward to meeting me.

Unsurprisingly, the office chatter is focused on the news that the Barclay brothers have won the race for the Telegraph Group. It may not be over just yet but you can sense the collective sighs of relief round the office. It is certainly reassuring to have escaped the private-equity slash-and-burn merchants.

I dig a bit more on the advertising feature and am given some fine pointers by the endlessly helpful David Cresswell at the Financial Ombudsman Service. Every financial hack should have a Cresswell in his drawer.

So to lunch at Smith&#39s of Smithfield with two directors of Hanson Green, the City head-hunter. Fascinating chaps they are, too, and although I come away storyless and sober (surely the marks of a woeful journalist) I have some pointers for business stories.

I hope to head off to Wimbledon to catch a few sets with the chief economist of Barclays but at three o&#39clock Liz encourages me to expand the feature to a double-page spread. My mantelpiece will have to wait another year for Sharapova&#39s autograph.

There is a bit more tapping on the spread to be done on Thursday but I am on the hunt for news now. Nevertheless, whoever I speak to – insurers, bank PRs or consumer tub-thumpers – only seem interested in bombarding me with football metaphors.

The only news coming in is of parties and conferences that have been cancelled due to tonight&#39s match. Frankly, I am starting to think Wayne Rooney&#39s view of the split-capital crisis is the only story worth getting.

An hour of chaos follows lunch as our volcanic chief sub and Liz rip up their initial plans to illustrate the advertising spread. The swearing this entails is almost as profuse as what can be heard in that Canary Wharf bar, where I eventually return to watch the quarter-final.

Amid all the shrieks and howls, I pick up a story about an investment bank that is recommending its clients have more sex.

Friday is press day for the money section and D-Day for the diary. I have just one news story for the money section – the FSA is setting up a new department to monitor the advertising of banks, credit card companies and other financial services products. The diary is not looking that hot, either.

Definitely time to make that call to Rooney&#39s agent.

Robert Watts is a personal finance correspondent and City diarist for the Sunday Telegraph •”Don&#39t go commando in a kilt with a drunken woman at your table.” – ProAct&#39s John Porteous on cautious managed underwear.


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