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Correspondents week

Its Wednesday and I start as usual, turning on the computer at about 8am and checking for new viruses and Windows updates. Make a cup of tea and read the Independent.

Get into work room at 9.30am and start scrabbling around frantically doing four pieces at once and steaming mad at being let down on stats. What do you do when you send emails, leave messages and they do not get back? You go elsewhere. Spend the day getting info from others and had to cancel lunch at Artemis.

Terrorist arrests further increase paranoia about possibility of work in central London following interview set up by my agent. I have a second cigarette.

On Thursday, Home Office minister Beverley Hughes resigns and it is not an April Fool. But I think her scalp will not be the last one claimed by immigration. Living in Walthamstow, you cannot fail to notice the rising sense of tension that occasionally finds expression vocally as well as in body language. It is going to be a long, hot summer.

Paul Keeble of the Pru calls with final fact for Sunday Telegraph story. I phone The Telegraph and hear the three most wonderful words my ears are likely to hear in any week: “Hello, Liz Dolan.”

I immediately go in to simper mode and relay the fact. Uncharacteristically, the divine Liz goes off on one about life companies. But it is brief as she is furiously busy and so am I. So there is no time to mention that I am trying to give up smoking. Five cigarettes today.

I am disappointed on Friday as I should have had lunch with Andy Smith of Lansons. Revise and send a piece on why smoking should be banned in public spaces in the EU for EasyJet Magazine.

Richard Craven of Willis Owen calls. Comments for article on why you should invest in things such as arms, tobacco and alcohol. I get a response from the Treasury to pension question for article for The Independent. Finish piece and send it off. Ten cigarettes.

At the weekend, there is more hugely insightful stuff on Iraq in the Indie by Robert Fisk. Also, a great piece by Bill Kay on how the vulnerable are being tempted into borrowing more than they should. Jonathan Davies&#39s piece mirrors my scepticism on hedge funds. Spurs lose but I am philosophical as Gooners also lose. Sunday Telegraph arr-ives and my piece is not in. Boo. Cigarette count rises.

It is Monday and I had forgotten next Friday and Monday are public holidays. Apparently it is Easter. I say public holidays are for wimps. I get good stats for article from the ever-reliable Paul Wynne of TrustNet.

On Monday night, I cannot help watching England Expects on BBC1. It is a high production values drama, where the writer touches bases endlessly – giving the appearance of having been trained to write by numbers. Everyone seems concerned with tackling symptoms rather than causes.

On Tuesday, the railway pension fund puts £600m into hedge funds. A pension scandal in the making? Hedge fund opportunities decline as the number of people running them increases.

Dirty bomb plot aimed at the UK is foiled, which does not help my smoking. Tony Blair says Iraq is not descending into disorder. Robert Fisk reporting from Iraq in The Independent says it is. Who do I believe?

Chelsea beat Arsenal in the Champions League. So money does buy you happiness.

On Wednesday, stockbroker Tony Craze on Radio Five Live is gratifyingly sceptical about hedge funds and the derivative trading and gearing behind them. I think to myself: “We&#39re doomed” in the voice of Private Frazer from Dad&#39s Army.

Finally get stats showing performance of basket of “vice” shares versus basket of “good” shares. Also downloaded in emails is Reuters&#39 news digest which contains an item that grabs me by the throat: “Frequent ejaculations may counter prostate cancer.” This is a finding of “US researchers”. I wonder how they conducted their research and if any of my American friends know about it?

I wonder if life insurers will include a question on frequency of masturbation as part of a lifestyle questionnaire. Well, I think that is as relevant as asking me how many fags I smoke.

Stephen Spurdon is a freelance journalist


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