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Correspondent’s view

Alison Bone

Ah, Correspondent’s Week. As the former MM Diary editor who will doubtless be looked up to for many years to come, I know the difficulty of getting some-one to agree to write the darned thing.

So it is entirely out of the goodness of my heart that I agree to do it this week and nothing to do with the money, which I can reveal a number of esteemed national hacks have turned their noses up at.

My first week in my new job at The Bookseller sees me in the offices of a well known publisher, asked to help myself to new books after a presentation about upcoming titles. I have to wipe away a tear of joy surreptitiously as I stuff my rucksack to the brim.

I also visit the offices of John Murray, publisher of Lord Byron and Jane Aus-ten, where I am shown the fireplace in which Byron’s memoirs were burnt and introduced to an author “who is heading up the first fiction list we have had since Jane Austen”. Something to live up to, then.

I discover that the publishing world is almost the exact opposite of financial services, being peopled with beautiful, clever and, above all, fashionable women. I am trying to up the ante in the fashion stakes but, unfortunately, there is not much to work with and I feel like a total loser at a Penguin press launch in my smart but boring suit.

It is also attended by the scrupulously clean Kim and Aggie and the form-idable Dr Gillian McKeith.

Coming across such eminent A-list celebrities at launches has compensated somewhat for not seeing anyone famous in my offices yet, despite working in the same building as Heat magazine, which I know was visited by Jade Goody and her gigantic new boobs last week.

I am trying to read more literary books, as telling Vikram Seth’s former editor that you are currently reading Jilly Cooper is not guaranteed to impress. But although I am trying my best and am definitely broadening my horizons, when you are catching a packed tube to work, nothing beats a good Jilly.

In some ways, the timing of my new job could not be worse, as my boyfriend and I decide to (try to) buy a house. Feeling quite smug and clever, I start to explain the world of mortgages to him, only to realise I know far less than I thought. With an army of experts no longer to hand, including the encyclopaedic knowledge of the ever helpful Ray Boulger, I feel a bit stuck.

But a very insistent woman from Foxtons has set up a meeting for us with Alexander Hall next week and I am quite interested to hear a real-life mortgage broker doing his thing. Hopefully, I will not end up taking out a mortgage with vast early repayment penalties but, then again, I did once buy two copies of the same book because I couldn’t wait for the Amazon delivery to arrive so I am not known for expert financial decisions.

Talking of being a loser, I have found myself checking the MM website from time to time in the hope of finding out that disastrous things have happened to my least favourite firms. Esteemed news editor John Greenwood was horrified when I told him this but, coming from the man who I am sure dreams up fresh spins on pension stories in his sleep, it is not all that bad.

Anyway, I am quite pleased to have loads of free books already. Who knows what the future will bring?

Alison Bone is a senior reporter at The Bookseller and a former Money Marketing reporter”His speech is a bit like Genesis. It’s the holy writ.”- FSA’s Robin Gordon-Walker on Clive Briault’s speech to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

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