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Hair today…

The last week has been totally unrecognisable from anything I experienced up until a month ago when I bade farewell to London for a change of lifestyle in the middle of nowhere in the Kent countryside.

I am occasionally joined by a spider in my spacious office in the attic, which I have to climb a ladder to access, but I have taken the view that we should all learn to live together.

On Tuesday morning, a particularly intimidating tarantula-like creature plonked itself into one of my many half-opened but unpacked boxes. I have not even bothered to check if he is still there.

The view from my office window of green fields and sheep is infinitely preferable to my previous view of the local homeless tramp swigging his ironically named Tennents Extra.

But things can get a bit stuffy up here because the presence of a wasps&#39 nest on the roof next door makes opening the attic window during the summer rather like playing Russian roulette.

Having quit writing for the national papers on moving, life has been blissfully free from requests to update pieces filed months ago or to provide last-minute extra words to compensate for ads falling through – extra-curricula efforts which were highly time-consuming but, alas, never paid for.

Furthermore, the fact that I only now write features relevant to my specialist area of protection has radically reduced the yawn factor.

The other half of my working life has been spent building up my cottage industry in corporate writing with my wonderful fiance Helen. This extends to all financial subjects and beyond.

Having already been fortunate enough to secure a number of newsletters and brochures to beaver away at from day one, we were pinching ourselves at hearing from three new potential clients this week. One of these, however, may involve travel to the Middle East, which stret-ches the definition of cottage industry somewhere towards its extremity.

Setting alarm clocks and being addicted to caffeine are now problems we have put firmly behind us. We get up when we want to, restrict ourselves to two cups of coffee a day and never let work get in the way of tennis.

Until the downpours this week, we had played virtually every evening on the court next door but Monday and Tuesday were washouts.

Another important part of the lifestyle change has been going without a TV. This means that time on my exercise bike – in the studio in the garden – is now spent working rather than watching sport.

Bike time over the weekend and on Monday was reserved for a corporate project which involved reading a particularly turgid 800-word Competition Commission report. The endorphins were ess-ential for staying awake in these caffeine-free times.

By Tuesday, I was able to use this hour-long slot for the altogether more enjoyable task of thinking up gags for an after-dinner speech I have been booked to make at a health insurance function. But by Friday, some of these had ceased to seem terribly funny so the task will doubtless continue well into next month.

Press parties and business lunches have been replaced by mountain biking, gardening and blackberry picking but social engagements still throw up journalistic opportunities. Sunday lunch with the new neighbours revealed that nearby Benenden Hospital, which seems to offer impossibly cheap private operations, should be mentioned in my feature on self-pay.

With milk, yoghurt, eggs and newspapers also now delivered to the door, I am probably experiencing the closest to heaven one can get on this earth.

When first leaving London, my one regret was that I had ended my chances of getting a lifetime achievement award. Having given up drinking 18 years ago because I wanted to do something with my life, this had been an all-consuming ambition.

In retrospect, however, if I had realised that the pursuit of this goal could involved missing out on a single week like the last one, I would have prob-ably invited my pals at the ABI to stuff their awards. Hopefully, I will win a tennis trophy or two instead.

Edmund Tirbutt is a freelance journalist

•”That&#39s the reason why I&#39m not eating this week,” – Richard Craven ann-ounces that his firms have paid their FSCS levy.

Hargreaves Lansdown&#39s Mark Dampier is is having his beard shaved for charity and is even threatening to go the whole hog and have his hair shaved off in aid of Radio Lollipop, the hospital radio station in Bristol.

The team at HL is aiming to raise £5,000 and reckon that means Mark will have the world&#39s most expensive facial hair. Hirsuits you, sir.


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