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Correspondent’s week

This week, by freelance personal finance journalist Emma Lunn

Monday morning sees my alarm wake me up earlier than since I used to make a daily trek to darkest Kent to report on Paddock Wood, the town that news forgot. Fortunately, the days of local newspapers and late-night council meetings are long gone and these days I am mixing with stars. Jean Christophe Novelli is cooking me lunch today at his farmhouse in Hertfordshire. Unfortunately, it’s not just me and him but 10 journalists courtesy of Direct Line. We are there to improve our culinary skills, as well as eat, but it all looks way beyond me.

Tuesday and Wednesday are a hive of activity. A piece on personal loans for the Sunday Telegraph is first off, closely followed by features on pet insurance and online shopping for the Independent on Sunday. Honestly, you’d think Sam Dunn would know better than to give a girl a shopping feature. I still hold him responsible for my purchase of an iPod during research on downloading music. This week, I only narrowly avoid accidentally buying an expresso maker and a digital camera.

Still, not as bad as the feature on estate agents that caused my mind to wander so much that now I am halfway through house move hell. Like the Queen Vic in Eastenders, everyone seems to be obsessed with owning the flat I am buying and I am now in a contract race against some rival buyers. Unfortunately, my solicitor is no sprinter. On telly, you never see Phil/Ian/Johnny Alan harassing their solicitor with phone calls 10 times a day complaining that things are moving too slowly, they simply announce they are buying the Vic and the next day it is magically theirs. They must know something about the conveyancing process I don’t and my solicitor should learn.

Realising I am probably watching too much TV, I find time to squeeze in a date and I’m realising boys are like houses. This one, many attractive features, possible second viewing. Others take too much work to modernise while only the other week I realised you can be gazumped in dating as well as property. Still, everyone knows viewings and offers are more fun than completion and moving in and only then spotting the infestations and dry rot.

Thursday is spent clicking through Headline Money to find out who’s who in journalism. I find out two things – everyone has worked at Money Marketing at some point and 90 per cent of people’s biggest irritation is PRs who ring up to see if you got their press release. Of course. I have nothing bad to say about our PR buddies and cite some random freelance thing as my biggest irritation.

That is until I’m in the hallway and hear the phone ring back at my desk. Breaking into a sprint, I fail to notice my CD rack in the way. It is weighed down with a stone block and has shelves with sharp metal edges and I come a cropper, ripping a chunk of flesh out of my foot. There is blood everywhere and my little toe goes numb. It takes a good half hour to stem the bleeding, stop shaking and assess the damage. I think it’s broken. I never made it to the phone but I just know it was one of those damn people wondering if I got their stupid press release. As soon as I’ve got a minute I’m changing my “biggest irritation” so it reads the same as everyone else’s.

Friday is the day I allow myself to venture out for lunch, this week with the Post Office. I limp along and hear all about the PO’s plans for world domination. Apparently, they are not closing branches but “trimming rose buds” or something.

Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Paul McMillan, email: paul.mcmillan@centaur.co.uk or telephone: 020 7970 4776u In a branch of Lloyds TSB at the Angel in Islington, London, The Diary was alarmed to find two life-size cardboard cut outs of two Scottish Widows – the new one and the recently retired model.

Jilt one but leave her standing at the counter to witness her successor’s triumph? Or is Lloyds planning to feature them both alongside each other?u For those who thought MM’s hard-won reputation for hard living had been stolen by some silly mortgage newsletter, The Diary would simply like to recount the events of last Thursday.

Intrepid investment reporter Matt Davis bested hardened gamblers, only beaten by former news editor and hopeless gambling addict Corey Boles, at poker.

News editor elect James Phillipps was beating no less than world champion Andy the Viking Fordham at a Standard Life darts night with a bull’s-eye finish, winning the shirt off his back, well actually a spare one, thankfully.

Regulation reporter James – crazy name crazy guy – Salmon not only picked up the Bradford & Bingley award for Scoop of the Year but then drank rather too much champagne and got on a train for Balham at Liverpool Street.

Not surprisingly he did not get to his destination as it is in South London and lines from Liverpool St run east and north.

Still, Enfield Town is lovely at 1am in November. A 70 taxi receipt may not get through expenses and could make a slight dent in the prize money.

JP Morgan Asset Management took part in the Alan Sugar Challenge Event, giving the firm’s team pictured abov the honour of meeting Griff Rhys-Jones as well as the main man and ex-Tottenham Hotspur chairman himself. The event involves nine teams from City businesses competing to raise money in a 10-day period. The JPMAM team held a charity gala and raised over 90,000.

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