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Donkin's World: Ex-FT

...It's not often that you come across 150 journalists in a bar, buying their own drinks out of their own pockets with not an expenses receipt between them...

Richard Donkin attends a get-together of ex-Financial Times journalists.

Do please visit Richard's well-stocked Web site http://www.richarddonkin.com/

Details of his book Blood, Sweat and Tears which is acclaimed world-wide can be found here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Sweat-Tears-Evolution-Work/dp/1587990768/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214554429&sr=1-2

It was good to see old colleagues at a get-together for ex-Financial Times journalists in London. A lot had retired but many have gone on to glittering careers - two to the House of Lords, one in Government, two on BBC news (constantly), two Fleet Street editors and one running the Confederation of British Industry.

The gathering was special for another reason. It's not often that you come across 150 journalists in a bar, buying their own drinks out of their own pockets with not an expenses receipt between them. How times have changed. "At least we were never taking money from the taxpayer," said an old colleague, reflecting on the MPs' expenses scandal.

I had a hot tip from one, confident in his insider-knowledge, that Ed Balls had definitely got the chancellor's job. And it may well have been true, but political events are moving so quickly and that was before we had the news of James Purnell's resignation. Purnell was the man being sounded out for Balls's job at Education. So Alistair Darling stays put for now and so does Balls, his ambition to run the Treasury as yet unrequited.

Balls wasn't there last night but I can never relate to him as a politico anyway. Instead I recall Ed as the centre forward who gave our old FT football team a bit of aggression up front. Ian Hargreaves, former editor of the Independent, was also there. Ian was a gritty midfielder, never afraid to bite a few ankles.

A lot of the chat was reminiscences and gossip - the stuff I miss most from my days on the paper. A few of my old colleagues liked to lunch in a certain style. David Churchill, former leisure industries correspondent, had his favourite tables at Orso's and Joe Allen's restaurants - indeed still does. One lunch time he arrived at Joe Allen's only to find that Joan Collins was sitting at his table. A word in the ear of management and she was summarily shifted elsewhere.

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