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Correspondent’s week

Top tip: Never, ever think that you can move house on Monday and get a full week’s work done while simultaneously dealing with builders, plumbers, electricians and Lambeth Council.

To be fair, I did take moving day itself off and was overjoyed to discover that nothing – and I mean nothing – in our new house either works or is without some sort of fungal infection.

As a freelancer, one of the best decisions I have ever made is not working directly from home. There is definitely something that keeps you sane about having to get out every morning and go to work – even if it is in your old bedroom at your parents’ house.

On arrival at “the office”, I get started on my Sunday Mirror copy for that week. They ask me to file on a Tuesday, which can be really difficult as obviously you want to be as topical as possible. This week, the subject is student accounts, which strangely makes me think rather fondly of the debts I accrued during that time and how teeny they were compared with my now stomach-churningly enormous mortgage.

Fortunately, Caroline Harris at NatWest comes up with a second-year pharmacy student who is happy to be a case study so the piece is relatively straightforward to write.

Next, I have to file copy for Real People magazine, a Nat Mags publication. I write a consumer page called Sorted every week, which involves responding to a reader’s consumer query.

I had not quite realised how broad the remit of these queries would be until I found myself responding to a girl who found an eyelid, complete with eyelashes, in her sausage muffin. Still, makes a change from pet insurance.

This week, I respond to a problem about British Gas and had a great result when BG put its hands up and admitted responsibility, sending the customer compensation and a bunch of flowers.

After Real People, it is time to focus on my regular slots for the Telegraph. This week, I have to finish off a Cash Clinic and file a Wealth Workout piece, which is a sort of weekly round-up of any new product launches or rate changes that might have happened that week. There is plenty to say as there has been a big rise in inflation figures so the piece looks at the few accounts around that still offer savers decent “real” returns.

My Cash Clinic article, which I start on Thursday, features two keen bikers who want to sort out their finances before retirement. Thankfully, they have plenty of savings and investments to discuss – the really challenging ones are the 23-year-old students with massive debts and no savings who are keen to get on the property ladder.

Alison Steed, deputy editor of Your Money at The Daily Telegraph, gives me a call about The Weekly Telegraph, asking if I would like to write 3,000 words on offshore building societies by next Tuesday. I happily agree as this means another payment towards repairing some of my house horrors.

In the meantime, I still have to finish off an article for The Sunday Telegraph on Safety First investments while fending off calls from the Estonian builders who are currently occupying my bathroom. I cannot quite understand what they are saying but figure that they have probably found something unmentionable lurking behind the shower.

My social life this week is a total non-event due to the move and a big workload. Usually I would try and get out for at least one lunch or meeting to catch up on what is going on but there does not seem to be enough minutes in the day right now. Hopefully, next week will be a little less stressful.


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