Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > Confessions of A Shopaholic > Chapter 8
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
Chapter 8

OK,SO PERHAPS the Cutting Back didn’t go that well. But it doesn’t matter, because that’s all in the past. That was negative thinking—now I’m seriously into positive thinking. Onward and upward. Growth and prosperity. M.M.M. It’s the obvious solu-tion, when you think about it. And you know what? Suze is absolutely right. Making More Money suits my personality far better than Cutting Back did. I’m already feeling much happier. Just the fact that I don’t have to make any more grotty cheese sandwiches, or go to any more museums, has lifted a huge weight off my soul. And I’m allowed to buy all the cappuccinos I like, and start looking in shop windows again. Oh, the relief! I’ve even chuckedControlling Your Cash in the bin. I never did think it was any good.

The only small thing—tiny niggle—is I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do it. Make More Money, I mean. But now I’ve decided to go ahead with it, something will turn up. I’m sure of it.

When I get into work on Monday, Clare Edwards is already at her desk—surprise—and on the phone.

“Yes,” she’s saying softly. “Well, it’s certainly been a wonderful first year.”

When she sees me, to my surprise, she blushes a faint pink and turns away slightly. “Yes, I understand,” she whispers, scrib-bling in her notepad. “But what about the future?”

God knows why she’s being so secretive. As if I’m interested in her tedious life. I sit down at my desk, briskly flip on my computer, and open my diary. Oh goody, I’ve got a press confer-ence in the City. Even if it is some boring old pensions launch, at least it means a trip out of the office and, with any luck, a nice glass of champagne. Work can be quite fun, sometimes. And Philip isn’t in yet, which means we can sit and gossip for a while.

“So, Clare,” I say, as she puts the phone down, “how was your weekend?”

I look over, expecting to hear the usual thrilling account of what shelf she put up where with her boyfriend—but Clare doesn’t even seem to have heard what I said.

“Clare?” I say puzzledly. She’s staring at me with pink cheeks, as though I’ve caught her stealing pens from the stationery cupboard.

“Listen,” she says in a rush. “That conversation you heard me having just now . . . could you not mention it to Philip?”

I stare at her in bemusement. What’s she talking about? Oh wow—is she having an affair? But then, why should Philip care? He’s her editor, not her—

Oh my God. She’s not having an affair withPhilip, is she?

“Clare, what’s going on!” I say excitedly.

There’s a long pause, as Clare blushes deep red. I can’t believe this. A piece of office scandal at last! And involving Clare Edwards, of all people!

“Oh, come on, Clare,” I whisper. “You can tell me. I won’t tell anyone.” I lean forward sympathetically. “I might even be able to help.”

“Yes,” says Clare, rubbing her face. “Yes, that’s true. I could do with a bit of advice. The pressure’s starting to get to me.”

“Start from the beginning,” I say calmly, just like Dear Abby. “When did it all begin?”

“OK, I’ll tell you,” whispers Clare, and looks nervously about. “It was about. . . six months ago.”

“And what happened?”

“It all began on that Scottish press trip,” she says slowly. “I was away from home . . . I said yes without even thinking. I suppose I was flattered, more than anything else.”

“It’s the old story,” I say wisely. God, I’m enjoying this.

“If Philip knew what I was doing, he’d go crazy,” she says despairingly. “But it’s just so easy. I use a different name—and no one knows!”

“You use a different name?” I say, impressed in spite of myself.

“Several,” she says, and gives a bitter little laugh. “You’ve probably seen some of them around.” She exhales sharply. “I know I’m taking a risk—but I can’t stop. To be honest, you get used to the money.”

Money? Is she aprostitute ?

“Clare, what exactly are you—”

“At first it was just a little piece on mortgages inThe Mail ,” she says, as though she hasn’t heard me. “I thought I could handle it. But then I was asked to do a full-length feature on life insurance inTheSunday Times. ThenPension andPortfolio got in on the act. And now it’s about three articles every week. I have to do it all in secret, try to act normally . . .” She breaks off and shakes her head. “Sometimes it gets me down. But I just can’t say no anymore. I’m hooked.”

I do not believe it. She’s talking about work. Work! There I was, thinking she was having a steamy affair, ready to hear all the exciting details—and all the time it was just boring old . . .

Then something she’s just said tweaks at my mind.

“Did you say the money was good?” I say casually.

“Oh yes,” she says. “About three hundred quid a piece. That’s how we could afford our flat.”

Three hundred quid!

Nine hundred quid a week! Bloody hell!



This is the answer. It’s easy. I’ll become a high-flying freelance journalist, just like Clare, and earn nine hundred quid a week. What I have to do is start networking and making contacts at events instead of always sitting at the back with Elly. I must shake hands firmly with all the finance editors of the nationals and wear my name badge prominently instead of putting it straight in my bag, and then phone them up with ideas when I get back to the office. And then I’ll have £900 a week. Hah!

So when I arrive at the press conference, I pin my name badge on firmly, take a cup of coffee (no champagne—blast), and head toward Moira Channing of theDaily Herald.

“Hello,” I say, nodding in what I hope is a serious manner. “Becky Bloomwood,Successful Saving .”

“Hello,” she says without interest, and turns back to the other woman in the group. “So we had the second lot of builders back, andreally read them the riot act.”

“Oh, Moira, you poor thing,” says the other woman. I squint at her badge and see that she’s Lavinia Bellimore, freelance. Well, there’s no point impressing her—she’s the competition.

Anyway, she doesn’t give me a second glance. The two chat away about extensions and school fees, completely ignoring me—and after a bit I mutter, “Good to meet you,” and creep away. God, I’d forgotten how unfriendly they are. Still, never mind. I’ll just have to find someone else.

So after a bit I sidle up to a very tall guy on his own, and smile at him.

“Becky Bloomwood,Successful Saving ,” I say.

“Geoffrey Norris, freelance,” he says, and flashes his badge at me. Oh for God’s sake. The place is crawling with freelancers!

“Who do you write for?” I ask politely, thinking at least I might pick up some tips.

“It depends,” he says shiftily. His eyes keep darting backwardand forward, and he’s refusing to meet my eye. “I used to be onMonetary Matters. But they sacked me.”

“Oh dear,” I say.

“They’re bastards over there,” he says, and drains his coffee. “Bastards! Don’t go near them. That’s my advice.”

“OK, I’ll remember that!” I say brightly, edging away. “Actu-ally, I just have to . . .” And I turn, and walk quickly away. Why do I always find myself talking to weirdos?

Just then, a buzzer goes off, and people start to find their seats. Deliberately, I head for the second row, pick up the glossy brochure that’s waiting for me on my seat, and take out my note-book. I wish I wore glasses, then I’d look even more serious. I’m just writing down Sacrum Asset Management Pension Fund Launch in capitals at the top of the page, when a middle-aged man I’ve never seen before plonks himself down next to me. He’s got disheveled brown hair and smells of cigarettes, and is wearing an old-looking jacket over a dark red shirt with no tie. Plus, I suddenly notice, sneakers on his feet.Sneakers to a press confer-ence? He sits down, leans back comfortably, and looks around with twinkling brown eyes.

“It’s a joke, isn’t it?” he murmurs, then meets my eye. “All this gloss. All this show.” He gestures around. “You don’t fall for it, do you?”

Oh God.Another weirdo.

“Absolutely not,” I say politely, and look for his name badge, but I can’t see one.

“Glad to hear it,” says the man, and shakes his head. “Bloody fat cats.” He gestures to the front, where three men in expensive suits are sitting down behind the table. “You won’t findthem surviving on fifty quid a week, will you?”

“Well . . . no,” I say. “More like fifty quid a minute.” The man gives an appreciative laugh.

“That’s a good line. I might use that.” He extends his hand. “Eric Foreman,Daily World.”

“Daily World?”I say, impressed in spite of myself. Gosh,The Daily World. I have to confess a little secret here—I really likeThe Daily World. I know it’s only a tabloid, but it’s so easy to read, especially if you’re on a train. (My arms must be very weak or something, because holdingThe Times makes them ache after a while. And then all the pages get messed up. It’s a nightmare.) And some of the articles in the “Female World” section are actu-ally rather interesting.

But hang on—surely I’ve metThe Daily World ’s personal finance editor. Surely it’s that drippy woman called Marjorie? So who’s this guy?

“I haven’t seen you around before,” I say casually. “Are you new?”

Eric Foreman gives a chuckle. “I’ve been on the paper for ten years. But this finance stuff isn’t usually my scene.” He lowers his voice. “I’m here to stir up a bit of trouble, as it goes. The editor’s brought me on board for a new campaign we’re running, ‘Can We Trust the Money Men?’ ”

He eventalks in a tabloid voice.

“That sounds great,” I say.

“Could be, could be. As long as I can get past all this techni-cal stuff.” He pulls a face. “Never been good at figures.”

“I wouldn’t worry,” I say kindly. “You don’t actually need to know very much. You’ll soon pick up what’s important. Basically, these guys are launching a new pension plan . . .” I glance at the brochure “. . . and the gimmick is, there’s a discount for investors under the age of twenty-five. Which makes sense, of course, because the sooner you start retirement planning, the better.”

“Oh absolutely,” echoes Eric Foreman, a tiny smile at his mouth. “May I ask, do you have a pension?”

“Well . . . no,” I admit. “I don’t at the moment . . . but I’m absolutely intending to, as soon as I decide which one.”

Which is true. As soon as I clear all my debts, I’m going to start a pension plan, and also invest in a long-term equity-basedinvestment fund. I may even put some spare money into emerg-ing markets. I mean, it makes sense, doesn’t it?

“Glad to hear it,” says Eric Foreman, grinning. “Very wise of you.” He peers at my name badge. “And you are . . .”

“Rebecca Bloomwood,Successful Saving ,” I say in my best networking manner.

“Glad to meet you, Rebecca,” he says, and fishes in his pocket for a business card.

“Oh, thanks,” I say, hastily reaching into my bag for my own business cards. Yes! I think triumphantly as I hand it over. I’m networking with the national newspapers! I’m swapping business cards!

Just then the microphones all come on with a screech of feedback, and a dark-haired girl at the podium clears her throat. Behind her is a lit-up screen, with the wordsSacrum Asset Management against a sunset.

I remember this girl now. She was really snotty to me at a press briefing last year. But Philip likes her, because she sends him a bottle of champagne every Christmas, so I’ll have to give this new pension plan a nice write-up.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” she says. “My name is Maria Freeman, and I’m delighted to welcome you all to the launch of the Sacrum Asset Management Pension Series. This is an innovative range of products designed to combine flexibility and security with the powerful performance associated with Sacrum.”

A graph appears on the screen before us, with a wiggly red line rising and falling above a thinner black one.

“As Graph 1 shows,” says Maria Freeman confidently, point-ing to the wiggly red line, “our UK Enterprise Fund has consis-tently outperformed the rest of its particular sector.”

“Hmm,” murmurs Eric Foreman to me, frowning at his brochure. “So, what’s going on here, then? I heard a rumor that Sacrum Asset Management wasn’t doing too well.” He jabs at the graph. “But look at this. Outperforming the sector.”

“Yeah, right,” I murmur back. “And what sector would that be? The Crap Investments Sector? The Lose All Your Money Sector?”

Eric Foreman looks at me and his mouth twists slightly.

“You think they’ve fiddled their figures?” he whispers.

“It’s not exactly fiddling,” I explain. “They just compare them-selves to whoever’s worse than themselves, and then call themselves the winners.” I point to the graph in the brochure. “Look. They haven’t actually specified what this so-called sector is.”

“Well, blow me,” says Eric Foreman, and looks up at the Sacrum team sitting on the platform. “They’re canny bastards, aren’t they?”

Really, this guy has no idea. I feel almost sorry for him.

Maria Freeman is droning on again, and I stifle a yawn. The trouble with sitting near the front is you have to pretend to look interested and be writing notes. “Pensions,” I write, and draw a swirly line underneath. Then I make the line into the stem of a vine and start drawing little bunches of grapes and leaves all the way along.

“In a moment I’ll be introducing Mike Dillon, who heads up the investment team, and he’ll be telling you a little about their methods. In the meantime, if there are any questions . . .”

“Yes,” says Eric Foreman. “I’ve got a question.” I look up from my grapevine, slightly surprised.

“Oh yes?” Maria Freeman smiles sweetly at him. “And you are . . .”

“Eric Foreman,Daily World. I’d like to know, how much do you all get paid?” He gestures with his hand along the table.

“What?” Maria Freeman turns pink, then regains her compo-sure. “Oh, you mean charges. Well, we’ll be dealing with those . . .”

“I don’t mean charges,” says Eric Foreman. “I mean, how-much-do-you-get-paid? You, Mike Dillon.” He jabs at him with his finger. “What are you on? Six figures, is it? And bearing in mind what adisaster the performance of Sacrum Asset Management was last year—shouldn’t you be out on the streets?”

I’m absolutely stunned. I’ve never seen anything like this at a press conference. Never!

There’s a kerfuffle at the table, and then Mike Dillon leans forward toward his microphone.

“If we could get on with the presentation,” he says, “and . . . and leave other questions for later.” He’s looking decidedly uncomfortable.

“Just one more thing,” says Eric Foreman. “What would you say to one of our readers who invested in your Safe Prospects plan and lost ten grand?” He glances briefly at me and winks. “Show them a nice reassuring graph like that one, would you? Tell them you were ‘top of the s............

Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved