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Correspondent&#39s week

The week begins with me crossing a line I had come so close to in the past but never dared to step over until now.

“Go on, I&#39ll give you 50 quid. Pleeeeeeeeeease.”

So this is what it had come to – cash bribes to the person I shared the womb with. Yes, I was begging my twin sister to be a case study for a piece on Teps for The Observer.

“Think about it, Ruth,” I said. “Your face in the paper, the headlines – Top of the Teps, Ten Teps to heaven, Tep-id reception for couple&#39s investment. Just imagine.”

She had been fool enough to ask me a few weeks previously about her options for an unsatisfactory endowment policy. Naturally, I reminded her that I am not qualified to do much, including offering financial advice, but I said I would be happy to use her example in a piece which might offer her and people like her some rough guidance.

In common with most of my personal finance brethren, I have used old boyfriends, friends&#39 parents, random callers and passers-by as case studies, but not my own family, let alone my very closest relative. She finally agreed and, not standing on ceremony, accepted a bundle of used fivers, thus allowing me to kick off another week&#39s work.

In common with most weeks, I was also working on a legal question and answer as part of my regular duties for The Observer&#39s property section. This involves me straying off familiar territory, which is always refreshing.

Of course, I am not qualified to give legal advice. This means I must interview solicitors for the piece, which can be challenging.

As you might imagine, simple questions warrant 5,000-word emails which can fail to include any information you can actually use. Some have even threatened to charge me for these contributions.

With it being summertime, the week is peppered with clearing my inbox of press releases with cheery holiday-based tops and tails and scary insurance-led centres.

I probably should not do this, given that it is indeed summer and at a moment&#39s notice I might be required to write a piece with a cheery holiday-based top and tail and a scary insurance-led centre.

My other core activity has been reaching for the mute button on the remote control to create the illusion of a TV-free working environment whenever the phone goes. Anyone who knows me well knows I generally hate TV but that does not mean to say it is not on most of the time.

The tennis made the ideal background accompaniment to filing and I was also lucky enough to get taken to Wimbledon by a contact.

I will not pretend here that I understand much about tennis but I had never been to Wimbledon before and was hoping to catch a glimpse of the logic-defying Boris Becker – a man who is not only called Boris but who is also ginger and still somehow manages to be sexy.

My (sadly Boris-free) Wimbledon excursion was a rare outing with contacts for me these days. When I had a normal job, I would naturally block my diary with as many breakfasts, lunches, dinners, auxiliary meals between lunch and dinner and days out afforded to the average financial journalist as possible.

But as whatever I do now is on my time, justifying even lunch meetings can be tricky.

The rest of my week was duly spent filing something long and detailed for one of my corporate clients, fielding calls from my accountant and resolving never again to offer bribes to blood relatives. At least until the next time.

Helen Monks is a freelance journalist


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