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Correspondent’s Week

After a week and a half out of the office enlivened only by the usual range of novelty underwear from my loving relatives, received while sitting round a dead tree, it is good to be back.

The first week after the Christmas break is a strange affair. The usual whirlwind of lunches and parties has not yet had a chance to kick in, so the week presents an opportunity to regroup and get everything ready for the year ahead.

Working on a monthly publication, the Christmas break simply means that we have a week and a half less in which to produce the February issue. As such, it is important to get yourself into the right frame of mind to hit the ground running on your return to the office.

So spending Monday – the last day of the holiday – watching an abject West Ham stumble to an uninspired defeat against Sheffield United was not the best preparation. We were lucky to get nil and I was suddenly keen to end this holiday and get back into the office.

There is a strange belief at this time of year that anything that happens to you is indicative of the entire year ahead. Whatever fortune befalls you within the first few days, you become convinced that such luck – good or bad – will be mirrored throughout the rest of the year.

So, as I arrive at the office early on Tuesday, I convince myself that Southern Trains has resolved to improve its service and that perhaps I will enjoy hassle-free commuting for the next 12 months. More of which later.

It is always disappointing to discover that the world does not stop in line with Money Management’s holidays, so most of Tuesday is spent sifting through the emails and press releases that have flooded my inbox over the festive period.

A recurring theme appears to be the FSA eschewing all seasonal goodwill and living up to its alternative sobriquet – the Fine Slapping Authority. I do not know whether it had time to giftwrap the penalties it dished out to Bradford & Bingley, Axa or Read IFA but the fine for Axa’s misleading advertising leads me to think that similar controls should perhaps be imposed elsewhere.

Surely someone could have warned me when I got my first season ticket at Upton Park all those years ago that: “Your football team can go down as well as up.”

The day is also spent fielding calls from various people concerned that my boss, Janet Walford, has returned safe and sound from her Christmas sojourn to Cambodia, Vietnam and Phuket. Fortunately, she was not due to go to Phuket until three days after Christmas and suffered nothing worse than a rerouting to Bangkok.

By Wednesday, any remaining optimism for the year ahead is squeezed out of me by the realisation that Southern Trains’ resolution has lasted less than 24 hours. But a day of working on my index-linked gilts feature restores my spirits and I soon forget about the trials of commuting.

By Thursday I seem to have spent most of the week standing on Platform 2 of Peckham Rye station, watching my train get later on the overhead display boards. I finally make it into the office where the highlight of my day is a news meeting.

I am also booked in to give some advertising salespeople a “masterclass” about A-Day. Teaching ads salespeople anything should be interesting as, in my experience, most of them have only just learnt how to use cutlery properly.

Friday represents a chance to finish the index-linked gilts feature and plan for a return to relative normality next week.

Jon Cudby is deputy editor of Money Management

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