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Correspondent’s week

With just two weeks of being a consumer journalist under my belt, I realise there is life beyond regulation.

However, my week starts with the FSA at a briefing for national
journalists on depolarisation – a topic dear to my heart. The highlight
was meeting the lovely Ruth Excel who is having to get her own head
around the looming multi-tie regime after working in the press office
at Transport for London. I think she is doing a damn good job.

The rest of the day is spent speaking to industry bods about their
pensions for a piece for the Wednesday section. Do they practise what
they preach?Tom McPhail wins the prize for having the most plans –
that man will be worth knowing in retirement.

Tools down at 5pm to meet Friends Provident who kindly invite me to
the royal premier of The Merchant of Venice. Much to my delight, the
Prince of Wales attended but, unsurprisingly, I did not get near him
to explain I am from Wales and what a loveleeeeee place I reckon it
is.

Anyway, I did manage to catch a glimpse of Al Pacino and the rest of
thecast, including Mackenzie Crook (more commonly known as Gareth
from The Office) at the after-party in Cafe de Paris.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that the only other
celebrities to attend the party were Lee from Blue and Sinita. Yes,
the 80s pop singer. Surely the legendary Al deserved some A-listers?
I slip out of the party luckily before Lee from Blue got on stage to
warble along with the hired entertainment.

My early(ish) departure is an attempt to be bright-eyed for Tuesday
which is when news gets written for the next day. The film, by the
way, was fabulous.

Wednesday is the Northern & Shell Christmas party which brought
predictable chaos when mixing white wine with an empty stomach. I am
pretty sure I was well behaved and avoided making a spectacle of
myself in front of newcolleagues.

Any crazy behaviour would have been overshadowed by my colleague
Laura Palmer who fell off her chair half way through the night –
another white wine victim. Bless. Respect to my new (wonderful) boss
David Prosser who managed to cycle home from central London. A brave
move.

Thursday is spent wishing I was on the sofa watching endless Friends
episodes but I am gearing up for the pre-Budget speech. Brown’s
report proves more interesting than previous years although the
Express newsdesk covers it so Iwas left alone to wrestle with a
feature about home-owners whose cheap two-year fixed-rate deals were
about to expire resulting in bigger monthly payments. As a renter, my
sympathy is limited.

When Friday arrives, I feeling far more enthusiastic. First on the
agenda is a call to Paul Smee who is far too bright and bushy tailed,
considering that it was the morning after his leaving bash. Since he
is leaving Aifa for the Association of Payment Clearing Services this
week, I need to keep him onside for when Chip and PIN kicks off next
year.

I learn that his successor is to be none other than the FSA’s David Severn.

Banks and building societies are in the firing line for a news piece
for Sunday after a mystery shopping exercise exposes them for giving
out duff information on how the blind and partially sighted will with
cope with Chip and PIN. Then it is onto a feature about consumers who
have lost out from Auction World TV which went bust last month.

I am glad when the day is over. This weekend should be a good one
because my dad is coming to stay and we are going to my mother ship –
Harrods. Hurrah.

But first, it is off to the pub for a quick
drink.

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