For some journalists, the month of December means endless Christmas drinks with every Tom, Dick or Harry but so far this year, party season for me has been remarkably subdued. A severe case of man-flu has turned me into a grumpy old man and I can’t even muster the energy to go to Royal London’s annual event to claim the free bottle of whisky.
It is not a case of bah-humbug, far from it. I recently bought a house with my wifeto-be and I am quickly discovering all the joys that it entails. After plainsailing for a couple of months, we discover a wet bulge coming out of our kitchen wall and this quickly leads to a dark and dripping ceiling. The journalist in me tells me it must be coming from upstairs but the female owner denies it. After a long and rather drawn-out process, we discover it is coming from her washing machine. She pays for the plumber, offers to help us redecorate and gives us some free wine to boot, which softens the blow.
Away from the distractions of home, I start the week knowing it is our last issue of the year. However, rather than being able to relax, I have the joy of writing our last cover story of the year, which imaginatively is a look back at the year as a whole. I rack my brains to try and think what happened and can only remember a dodgy lasagne robbing my beloved Spurs of Champions League football, another failure for English football in the World Cup and England looking doomed (now officially doomed) in the Ashes’ series.
To make sure the cover is not entirely about sport, I spend Monday and Tuesday on the phone speaking to macroeconomists to summarise the key events for markets in 2006. Continuing strong global equity markets, global interest rate rises and slowdowns in America and Japan are some of the themes identified.
I have to cancel a meeting with Liontrust on Tuesday as I feel it best not to infect their new European team with a severe bout of man-flu. However, I am not the only one in my team struggling. Editor Daniel Ben-Ami has been looking jaundiced for the last week and has an impressive cough.
In the absence of any meetings, I quickly plough through the needed 3,000 words for the cover feature and make an early start on news. As it is the last issue of the year, the magazine is quite small, so we do not need loads of stories.
I go home on Wednesday with the order that I have to write Christmas cards ringing in my ears. Because of this, I decide to get festive and stop at HMV on my way, buying the very greatest, best of, better than all the others, truly fabulous Christmas hits album. But it does not stop there. I feel that a Christmas film is also needed. It’s A Wonderful Life? Holiday Inn? The Bishop’s Wife? Miracle On 34th Street? All great festive films but I opt for Gremlins and Gremlins 2 in a boxset for a tenner.
After enjoying the adventures of gizmo the night before, Thursday and Friday are spent knuckling down on news. Aside from the Christmas party season, this is also the time of the year when each day you arrive at work hoping to see a nice big box, on your desk as this is the time of year of the corporate gift.
As a team, our gift count is far below some of the other Centaur publications but a very nice bottle of Irish single malt (thanks Resolution) and a nice bottle of Red (thanks David Andrews Media) keep a festive smile on my face.
The weekend is spent Christmas shopping and we finish Saturday by buying and then decorating our first real Christmas tree. All of a sudden, I am not so much of a grump.