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Correspondent’s Week

This week Edmund Tirbutt, freelance financial journslist

Working from an 18th-century attic in the Kent countryside has proved to have a slight summertime sting in the tail. Last year this came from the wasps which nested inside the roof next door and made surprise visits even when my window was shut. This year they appear to have buzzed off but only to be replaced by an even less welcome predator.

On Monday afternoon my finishing touches to a piece for Health Insurance magazine were interrupted as the second hornet of the month found its way through a crevice in the beams above my head. Within seconds I had dropped to the safety of the bedroom floor below without touching a single rung of the seven-foot ladder that connects it to my office.

But Tuesday morning brought good news. A visit from the local council’s pest control department assured me that my building was unlikely to be playing host to a hornet’s nest. A couple of stray creatures had probably crawled in under the roof tiles and this wasn’t expected to become a frequent occurrence.

The only further downside to my otherwise idyllic new life in the country has been the lack of opportunity to play tennis with Helen, my fianc裮 The public court is deserted during the week and we are entitled to play as often as we like for an annual fee of 80. But, while we played almost every day last summer, we have recently struggled to find even a free half an hour.

Organising our wedding hasn’t helped but our cottage industry in corporate writing is also here a year ahead of schedule. Increasing the size of our copywriting team to three by enlisting the services of a talented local writer has, however, made things easier. So on Wednesday we were able to treat ourselves to our first set this month.

Nevertheless, work pressures dictated that we took our new cordless phones. Incoming calls punctuated several promising rallies, although I am grateful to a protection spokesman for ringing me when I was two break points down. The stoppage was long enough to disrupt my opponent’s concentration and hoist me to deuce.

But the days of our cordless phones seem numbered, thanks to a friend who convinced us that they pulsate dangerous microwave radiation and need to be sold with a health warning. Awareness of this issue is low in the UK, apparently because British doctors are unable to speak about the health effects due to the official NHS line that the technology is harmless. But in Germany, where doctors are paid by health insurance companies or by patients, medics are setting up an appeal. Clearly a subject for a future piece for Health Insurance.

Thursday was a bit lonely back at the ranch as Helen spent a day in London buying a wedding dress. I am not allowed to see this until she begins her walk down the aisle, although the smug expression she wore on her return suggests that I am in for a pleasant experience.

But, because she now needs to shed a stone to fit into her purchase, Friday morning’s hour-long business planning meeting took place on our exercise bikes in the garden studio.


Chopper by name…

Pru UK chief executive Mark Wood revealed his ruthless streak that earned him his “chopper” nickname at an industry dinner last week. Wood took offence to diary using an Axa pen to record his musings and smashed it to smithereens before re-placing it with a Pru biro.

In the Pink

Pink Home LoansMortgage Express Self Cert Three-Year FixedType: Self-cert fixed-rate mortgageFixed term: Until September 30, 2008Fixed rate: 4.99%Minimum loan: 50,000Maximum loan: Up to 90% of valuation subject to a maximum of 250,000, up to 80% subject to a maximum of 300,000, up to 70% subject to a maximum of 500,000, up to 60% of valuation […]

ScotEq Intl pushes Poat out for IFAs

Scottish Equitable International has introduced a calculator for IFAs to work out clients’ pre- owned assets tax. For each bond value, the table summarises the annual tax benefit, the number of days before exceeding the 5,000 limit and the date by which the settlor needs to be removed as beneficiary to remain within this limit.

Stroud & Swindon ceo John Parker to resign by end of the year

Stroud & Swindon chief executive John Parker plans to retire by the end of the year.Parker will take planned retirement from December 31.Plans are for current finance director David Hill to succeed him.Parker, who has been the society’s ceo for the past 13 years has also been the chairman of the BSA for the past […]


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