Luckily it’s so busy, no one’s talking very much, so I don’t have to bother telling everyone at the office what I did on my day off. Clare’s tapping away at something and there’s a pile of pages on my desk, ready for me to proofread. So after checking my e-mails — none — I scrunch miserably up in my chair, pick up the first one, and start to scan it.
“Market efficiencies dictate that greater risks must accompany greater reward. Fund managers understand the balance sheets and market momentum driving volatile stocks.”
Oh God, this is boring.
“These experts therefore minimize risk in a way that the average investor cannot. For the small-time investor. .”
“Rebecca?” I look up, to see Philip approaching my desk, holding a piece of paper. He doesn’t look very happy, and for one terrible moment, I think he’s spoken to Jill Foxton at William Green, has discovered everything, and is about to fire me. But as he gets nearer, I see it’s only some dull-looking press release.
“I want you to go to this instead of me,” he says. “It’s on Friday. I’d go myself, but I’m going to be tied up here with Marketing.”
“Oh,” I say without enthusiasm, and take the piece of paper. “OK. What is it?”
“Personal Finance Fair at Olympia,” he says. “We always cover it.”
Yawn. Yawn yawn yawn. .
“Barclays are giving a champagne lunchtime reception,” he adds.
“Oh right!” I say, with more interest. “Well, OK. It sounds quite good. What exactly is it—”
I glance down at the paper, and my heart stops as I see the Brandon Communications logo at the top of the page.
“It’s basically just a big fair,” says Philip. “All sectors of personal finance. Talks, stands, events. Just cover whatever sounds interesting. I leave it up to you.”
“OK,” I say after a pause. “Fine.”
I mean, what do I care if Luke Brandon might be there? I’ll just ignore him. I’ll show him about as much respect as he showed me. And if he tries to talk to me, I’ll just lift my chin firmly in the air, and turn on my heel, and. .
“How are the pages going?” says Philip.
“Oh, great,” I say, and pick the top one up again. “Should be finished soon.” He gives a little nod and walks away, and I begin to read again.
“. . for the small-time investor, the risks attached to such stocks may outweigh the potential for reward.”
Oh God, this is boring. I can’t even bring myself to focus on what the words mean.
“More and more investors are therefore demanding the combination of stock-market performance with a high level of security. One option is to invest in a Tracker fund, which automatically ‘tracks’ the top one hundred companies at any time. .”
Hmm. Actually, that gives me a thought. I reach for my Filofax, flip it open, and dial Elly’s new direct number at Wetherby’s.
“Eleanor Granger,” comes her voice, sounding a bit far-off and echoey. Must be a dodgy line.
“Hi, Elly, it’s Becky,” I say. “Listen, whatever happened to Tracker bars? They’re really yummy, aren’t they? And I haven’t eaten one for. .”
There’s a scuffly sort of sound on the line, and I gape at the receiver in surprise. In the distance, I can hear Elly, saying “I’m sorry. I’ll just be a. .”
“Becky!” she hisses down the phone. “I was on speakerphone! Our head of department was in my office.”
“Oh God!” I say, aghast. “Sorry! Is he still there?”
“No,” says Elly, and sighs. “God knows what he thinks of me now.”
“Oh well,” I say reassuringly. “He’s got a sense of humor, hasn’t he?”
Elly doesn’t reply.
“Oh well,” I say again, less certainly. “Anyway, are you free for a drink at lunchtime?”
“Not really,” she says. “Sorry, Becky, I’ve really got to go.” And she puts the phone down.
No one likes me anymore. Suddenly I feel a bit small and sad, and I scrunch up even more in my chair. Oh God, I hate today. I hate everything. I want to go hooome.
By the time Friday arrives, I have to say I feel a lot more cheerful. This is primarily because: 1. It’s Friday.2. I’m spending all day out of the office.3. Elly phoned yesterday and said sorry she was so abrupt, but someone else came into the office just as we were talking. And she’s going to be at the Personal Finance Fair.
4. I have completely put the Luke Brandon incident from my mind. Who cares about him, anyway?