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Correspondent’s Week

Tuesday. Only minutes earlier, a confident captain had told passengers the flight would land ahead of schedule. Yet we were still circling Guernsey.

It was still daylight and I enjoyed a porthole view of Brecqou, island home of the Barclay brothers, owners of the Telegraph, where I am a regular freelance. Maybe I should have dropped leaflets from the plane asking for higher lineage rates.

We landed at Guernsey airport 10 minutes late. The friendly taxi driver suggested the plane might have suffered undercarriage trouble or just missed its landing slot.

The hotel boasted a spa but I had forgotten my swimming trunks. No trunks, no admission, no pre-dinner dip.

Dinner was French cuisine at one of the island’s top restaurants and a tete-a-tete with Talmai Morgan, chief executive of Guernsey Finance, my host for the trip.

I explained that I was working on yet another Guernsey feature for the Weekly Telegraph International Money Go Round, aimed at a British expat readership. So what was new? Quite a lot, it emerged.

Phoned home to check if ancient mother and the cats were coping with my absence.

Wednesday. Woke to a view out to sea over the rooftops of St Peter Port, the island’s capital. But as the late Ronnie Scott used to tell the audience at the famous jazz club I patronise: “You aren’t here to enjoy yourself.”

The day was packed with meetings but I found time to buy trunks and post letters to stamp collector friends in the US. I found out about the latest progress of the Channel Island Stock Exchange, heard some interesting predictions about US interest rates and discussed arcane tax issues relating to non-domiciled UK residents.

After a spa session, I enjoyed the evening with an exec- utive of Crystal PR, the local financial PR firm which organised the visit. The talk was about football, with the gentleman in question supporting Queens Park Rangers and myself supporting rival Brentford. Dinner was good, honest fish and chips with a few beers.

Thursday. I had an early pre-breakfast spa session, then more meetings and further enlightenment on the European savings directive, trusts, the local property market – in case our expat readers think about tax exile – and some new financial products.

There was time at the airport for a sandwich lunch as there was no on-board catering.

Friday. I deciphered my notes sufficiently to email a synopsis of my feature to the Weekly Telegraph but my priority was chasing up the revelation that the Chesterton Group had gone into administration. This was for my next City column in Estate Agency News, the monthly estate agency trade magazine. Fortunately, the deadline was a week ahead, leaving me time to dig around.

I collected rent from my tenants. For the past three years, I have lived with my widowed mother and let out my own home. It is not easy money, as many buy-to-let investors will find out. My mother suffers from failing eyesight and is a First World War baby, born the day that Germany invaded Belgium – August 3, 1914.

Saturday. A long-awaited pay cheque arrived. I believe there exists an affliction called publisher’s palsy. This affects the cheque-signing hands of staff in publishing houses. The symptoms include severe trembling when called on to sign cheques for freelance contributors. Brentford won.

Sunday. I tried to tidy the “office” at home. It is like Stalin’s Russia except objects rather than people disappear.

I spent the afternoon with my girlfriend feeding ducks on the Thames near Maidenhead and there was also time for a session at the local David Lloyd club near Heathrow Airport. I warmed up in the sauna, then did a Martin Allen in the outdoor heated pool (although the Brentford manager prefers his early spring dips in the river).

I pondered raising money by getting my cats to model for pet insurance features. Frinton is a ginger tom and Clawdia is a grey girlie. Their mother was a Persian.

Monday. I found my tiny bank balance boosted by a royalty payment from a report I wrote four years ago on non-conforming lending. I considered whether to plan an updated version. The weather appeared to be warming up at last.

Michael Goodman is a freelance personal finance journalist



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