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Correspondent’s Week

This week by freelance financial journalist Simon HildreyThis is not a good week to try to cut back on my alcohol consumption. I have a trip arranged to Dublin and this is not the best place in the world to go to avoid excess alcohol.

I have been invited to attend presentations by a life insurance company. On arrival, I discover they are being held in the Guinness Brewery. The event proves that, contrary to some reports, insurance companies can organise a piss-up in a brewery. The one problem with Dublin is that if you do not want to drink Guinness all night, it is hard to find other decent beer.

After the presentations, I walk from the brewery to the hotel with five members of the insurance company. We are confronted by some local lads, one of whom chucks an egg at us. This narrowly misses one of the salesmen. Clearly, there must be some disgruntled policyholders in Ireland.

When we arrive at the hotel, we have a couple of hours before heading out again. This gives me the chance to watch England play Croatia. My main interest when watch-ing international football is in whether any Newcastle players are injured. Michael Owen is a perfect example of the damage intern-ationals can do. Having said that, Owen could probably get injured running a bath.

The evening is good fun. We are taken to a pub in the mountains, where there is traditional Irish music that the Americans and other tourists seem to love. I am put off by the fact that the lead singer looks like Rumpole of the Bailey. We move to another bar after just two songs.

I get up at 5am as I was heading back to London to host a round-table discussion of private client lawyers and accountants. Generally, Irish taxi drivers do not stop talking. The one who picks me up at 5.30am was no exception. I try to doze off.

Just before he drops me off, the conversation turns to football. Suddenly I hear: “That Graeme Souness is a bad manager.” I realise the taxi driver must have been talking sense for the last half an hour and I missed it. When I go to pay, he plays the old trick of saying he does not have any change. He is even shrewder than I think.

The discussion at the lunch is dominated by lawyers and accountants recounting their experiences of dealing with government ministers and the Revenue over the Finance Act. There are still 44 unanswered questions over the new tax regime for trusts. That seems pretty good going for this government.

I go to the Financial Planner of the Year awards. The after-dinner speech is given by Kate Silverton of BBC Breakfast TV. She is a very confident and good presenter. But her speech is basically a run-through of her CV. Good money if you can get it.

The great advantage of being a freelance journalist is that you can watch cricket while working in the summer, play music to help you write or watch daytime TV. There is a great variety of programmes on during the day. This does not mean any of them are great, however. One programme that is fascinating is Deal Or No Deal. I am always amazed at how people can get weeks off work to stand with a box for the whole show in the hope of being picked to possibly win a top prize of 250,000.

This got me thinking, however. How many articles would I have to write to earn 250,000? I must have been having a slow afternoon as I calculated it would take 1,250 features for MoneyMarketing. I immediately filled in an application form for Deal or No Deal. Just in case I do not get accepted, I also get on the phone to Phil Scott and John Lappin to see if they could commission me to write over 1,000 features. Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Paul McMillan, email: or telephone: 020 7970 4776


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