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Correspondent’s Week

This week by The People money editor and freelance writer Simon Read

My working week starts on Sunday – the only time my case study for this week’s Money People column is available. Which? has put me in touch with Alexis of Cheltenham to illustrate a story about rip-off bank charges. She was charged 88 by Halifax for going over her overdraft limit for just a few hours. She is eager to talk and makes for a good case study. Not all are so chatty or happy to reveal their financial details.

Monday morning dawns with preparations for the school run – or walk in our case. One of the joys of working from home is that I have time to take my children to school and see them when they get home. Six-year-old George has a spelling test, so I use the 15-minute walk to school to quiz him on his words. Back at my desk, I set about finding a collector’s story for the People. It is a struggle every week as it wants stories that have not been featured elsewhere. This time I settle for Thomas Edison’s lightbulbs, which turn out to be worth a staggering 300,000.

Clinton Manning calls from the Mirror to check some details of a story I filed on Friday about home emergency insurance. I manage to divert him with detailed discussions of the previous day’s performances of our respective football teams, Chelsea and Arsenal, both 1-0 winners against rivals Liverpool and Manchester United.

In the evening, I head off to the Comedy Store as a guest of Family Investments. It is an enjoyable evening although Family boss John Reeve looks a little bemused at some of the bawdy and vulgar material on offer. Hill & Knowlton PR Adrian “Dibbs” Warr thankfully keeps the beer flowing.

Tuesday sees a call from Charterhouse’s Nia Williams. It has lost another editor of What Mortgage so she is commissioning the next issue. I agree to cover equity release and get on the blower immediately to the helpful Norwich Union press office for a case study.

In the evening, I head to Elephant & Castle for the weekly five-a-side football match. The Sunday Telegraph’s John Greenwood tells me he is returning to Centaur to edit the monthly Corporate Adviser magazine. I press my credentials as a columnist but am not sure he is convinced.

On Wednesday, I head to Soho to record my regular slot for the monthly Sound Advice podcast presented by Niche Mortgages’ Kevin Rose. Armed with figures from Citizens Advice that almost three-quarters of a million homeowners are struggling with repayments, I castigate brokers for not extending their advice to ensuring that clients can actually afford their mortgages. I also lay into brokers who have been pushing buy to let. I agree with Which?’s assertion that it is akin to running a business and not an easy sit-back-and-watch-the-cash-roll-in investment opportunity.

The Lansons party that evening is its usual scrum but I manage to find a few old friends among the sea of suits. No scandal or gossip to report, sadly, although I hear later that I missed someone slipping down the stairs.

Thursday is the big day of the week as three-year-old Freddie starts nursery. I get some dust or something in my eye as he cheerfully waves me away in the morning. I pick him up two-and-half hours later and he seems to have settled quickly. A pleasing call from Nationwide to invite me to Croatia to see England play brightens up my day and I zip out fresh story ideas to the Mirror.

On Friday, I wrestle with the subject of collectable cars for an alternative investment column I write in Fund Expert magazine. I am no petrol-head so find it difficult to get excited about some of the machines that go for hundreds of thousands. Instead, I amuse myself by thinking up comic headlines for the feature. Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Paul McMillan, email: paul.mcmillan@centaur.co.uk or telephone: 020 7970 4776

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