A friend of mine, who happens to be a fellow-editor of a renowned industry magazine, Money Marketing, decided to entrust me with the last ever Correspondent's Week column.
Basically he wanted me to talk about a week in the life of a journo - well, my week was pretty fraught here as I attempted to ensconce myself firmly in the role of editor/managing editor/whatever...
Here is what I wrote:
People who know me think I am cheerful and nice. Well I am not. I am a pessimist. I expect the worst to happen to me, so when it does I can feign sang-froid and make like I ain’t bovvered.
Here I am in a new job, striving to make a good impression. I am still in finance, but learning to love contract publishing. But it has not been easy. The first week, having been introduced to clients as an investment expert (Moi?) I had a meeting with a client I knew from days of yore on Investment Adviser. They mentioned story after story with an openness that would have floored Jodie Marsh. The client looked over at me, as previous, exclusive-hunting tendencies took over. My pen was moving fast.
“Stop twitching, Mermaid,” she joked.
“I can’t help it. This would have been a gold mine for IA”, I replied.
“I know”, she said, laughing. “But if I see it in IA or Reuters, I’ll know where to come.” Oh how we laughed. End of matter?
HA! I went out with THE BOY, who writes for Reuters, that evening. In the car with him and his mates, he turned round: “I think I got a great story today from XYZ company. They’re doing a big ABC”.
Bovvered? You bet. Screw sang-froid. Same **** story, wasn’t it? How could I respond? “Please don’t write it?” Like that wouldn’t give the game away. Might as well just walk into a police station and say: “I didn’t kill that postman.”
But if I didn’t say anything, and he wrote it? Cue clearing my desk on Monday. And he’d be funding my lifestyle. The prospect of curries for the rest of my life did not thrill me, but thankfully, he said he was meeting the company on Monday to confirm it. PHEW!
Friday came and I’d survived until late in the day. Then I fell into Dante’s seventh circle. Now, the toilets here are right next to the office. At around 6, the office was quiet, but several folk were around. I went in, shut the interconnecting door, but someone comes to empty the bins and leaves it open just at the minute I happened to emit a squealer. A nanosecond of silence. Then as I debate what to do, there’s a sequel, followed by uproarious laughter from my new colleagues. What to do? At IA we used to take the shame. So I walked out, but instead of being able to laugh it off, the room is silent as everyone is studiously intent on their keyboards. Utter mortification. End of Matter?
Well, Monday came and went without any problem. I got some juicy articles which kept me out of trouble, and the Reuters article did not appear.
Tues started well. I was waiting in for a washing machine repair. The price I was quoted was £94. Mr Fixit looked at me, and said: “Look, I’ll charge you the estimate charge of £39. I don’t think charging you the full amount is right for such a small job, as your warranty is about to expire.”
Since when did that ever happen? It made my day, especially as I had just agreed some new terms of insurance with my bank, which effectively covers plumbing repairs from the end of the month (coinciding with the expiry of the machine warranty).
Perhaps this week was going to make up for the horrors of last week. But being a pessimist, I thought: “There’s probably some pit around the corner waiting for my unwary footfall.”
The crunch came after an afternoon visit to the toilet. When I got back to my desk, an email, circulated to the whole office, was waiting for me. It read: “Please shut the toilet door. You don’t want to be named and shamed, do you?” Face? Red? Bovvered?