I HAVE NEVER before worked so hard on an article. Never.
Mind you, I’ve never before been asked to write one so quickly. At Successful Saving, we get a
Whole month to write our articles – and we complain about that. When Eric Foreman said, “Can you do
It by tomorrow?” I thought he was joking at first. I jauntily replied, “Of course!” and nearly added, “In
Fact, I’ll have it with you in five minutes’ time!” Then, just in time, I realized he was serious. Crikey.
So I’m round at Martin and Janice’s first thing the next morn-ing with a Dictaphone, writing down
Exactly all the information on their investment and trying to get in lots of heart-wrenching details as
Advised by Eric.
“We need human interest,” he told me over the phone. “None of your dull financial reporting here. Make
Us feel sorry for them. Make us weep. A hardworking, ordinary couple, who thought they could rely on a
Few savings to see them through their old age. Ripped off by the fat cats. What kind of house do these
People live in?”
“Ahmm. . . a four-bedroom detached house in Surrey.”
“Well, for Christ’s sake don’t put that in!” he boomed. “I wanthonest, poor, and proud. Never
Demanded a penny off the state, saved to provide for themselves. Trusted a respectable financial
Institution. And all it did was kick them in the face.” He paused, and it sounded as if he might be picking
His teeth. “That kind of thing. Think you can manage it?”
“I. . . ahm. . . yes! Of course!” I stuttered.
Oh God, I thought as I put down the phone. What have I got myself into?
But it’s too late to change my mind now. So the next thing is to persuade Janice and Martin that they
Don’t mind appearing in The Daily World. The trouble is,
it’s not exactly The Financial Times, is it? Or
Even the normal Times. (Still, it could be a lot worse. It could be The Sun – and they’d end up
Sandwiched between a topless model and a blurred paparazzi shot of Posh Spice.)
Luckily, however, they’re so bowled over that I’m making all this effort on their behalf, they don’t seem
To care which news-paper I’m writing for. And when they hear that a photographer’s coming over at
Midday to take their picture, you’d think the queen was coming to visit.
“My hair!” says Janice in dismay, staring into the mirror. “Have I time to get Maureen in to give me a
“Not really. And it looks lovely,” I say reassuringly. “Anyway, they want you as natural as possible.
Just. . . honest, ordinary people.” I glance around the living room, trying to pick up poignant details to
Put into my article.
An anniversary card from their son stands proudly on the well-polished mantelpiece. But there
Will be no celebration this year for Martin and Janice Webster.
“I must phone Phyllis!” says Janice. “She won’t believe it!”
“You weren’t ever a soldier, or anything?” I say thoughtfully to Martin. “Or a. . . a fireman? Anything
Like that. Before you became a travel agent.”
“Not really, love,” says Martin, wrinkling his brow. “Just the Cadets at school.”
“Oh, right,” I say, brightening. “That might do.”
Martin Webster fingers the Cadet badge he was so proud to wear as a youth. His life has been
One of hard work and service for others. Now, in his retirement years, he should be enjoying the
Rewards he deserves.
But the fat cats have conned him out of his nest egg. The Daily World asks. . .
“I’ve photocopied all the documents for you,” says Martin.