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A farewell to LSL

26 October 2013

Long-suffering Lily is leaving me. Two years of retrieving my phone from wherever I last left it, wrangling with byzantine travel arrangements, reminding me to buy cartridges for my shooting engagements and dealing with the occasionally charm-free Prominent Theatrical Agent who manages my public appearances, seem to have been enough. I cannot imagine why.

She chose to resign on the very morning that I had invited her to join me at The Square with the reader who had bought lunch with me in the FT Christmas charity auction. This particular reader must be trying to corner the market in female FT columnists, having also bought lunch with Gillian Tett. “Gillian was fabulous company,” he told us as we sat down. No pressure, then, I thought as I glowered at LSL over the table.

We did have a very jolly lunch, despite LSL’s decision to jump ship and, as we parted, the reader told me he was going to try for Merryn Somerset Webb next time. I wish him luck, and I hope MSW’s assistant doesn’t resign on the date of their lunch.

I did have to forgive LSL in the end because she is going to a fabulous job, as editor-in-chief of a “video curation” app. I am not sure I understand what a video curation app is but it does sound as though working there might involve something a bit more exciting than filling in yet another application form for Chelsea Flower Show gala preview tickets.

LSL tells me that some of the things I have asked her to do have been a bit way out. Like what? Asking her to find the postal address of HM Ford open prison so that I could write to an inmate; tracking down the dog suit required by Cost Centre #1 for his student play; plus the time I asked her to seal a letter with wax and my seal. Yes, I do have a seal. I had it handmade in Italy, and I use it whenever I need a particular communication to stand out from the crowd. It works too.

I have told LSL that she must help recruit her successor. Her resignation letter included the following lines: “When the recruitment agent first told me about the role, she said it was an unusually nice place to work and the job would be anything but boring. She couldn’t have been more right.” I hope she tells that to all the prospective applicants.

She also knows the best places to get things fixed, all of which I shall make her write down before she goes. Mr M’s watch, given by me for his 40th birthday, so now 17 years old, needed yet another battery and strap the other week, and LSL came up trumps again.

Quite why I am repairing Mr M’s watch I don’t know, as I doubt he will wear it again. I bought him a new one for his birthday last month, at his request. It is a golf watch that not only keeps excellent time but also, via a satellite link, identifies the distance to the tee of each hole on almost any golf course in the world. You download the ones you want; thus far his tally is 30,000. That is ridiculous – even if he plays one course a day for the rest of his life, he will have to live to be 139 to work his way through that lot.

Mr M had to enlist Cost Centre #2 to show him how to operate the golf watch, not least because he couldn’t adjust the screen mode from simply displaying the time, which seemed to be stuck at 16.00. CC#2 tried not to smirk too much as he told his father that he hadn’t peeled off the protective film layer, which had a watch face imprinted on it.

I shall miss LSL greatly, and not just because only last week she secured me a table at the Duck & Waffle at Heron Tower in the City with an hour’s notice. They laughed at her when she called; they had a table free in two months, she was told. LSL insisted on being put on a waiting list. Half an hour later someone had indeed cancelled and the table was mine. Will curating videos be as satisfying as getting a sought-after lunch table? I wonder. LSL will soon find out.

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