Classified ads

How I’d write your perfect speech

For many of our clients we are a dirty secret. Phone calls regularly begin with variants of: ‘Can you guarantee discretion?’ But there’s not a dealer, pimp or even a Botox clinic in sight. We write speeches. Traditional taboos are fast disappearing. Personal trainers, moisturising creams and therapists are shared between friends. It is socially acceptable to plan your wedding with a professional and outsource every-thing from the flowers to the invitations. But the groom is about as likely to reference his speechwriter as his affair with the chief bridesmaid. Our client meetings are arranged in dimly lit pubs and distant cafés, far from the prying eyes of spouses and

Letters: The Christian case for cash

Naysayers needed Sir: I was struck by James Forsyth’s observation that in 10 Downing Street, ‘hard truths and hard choices are too often ignored… because the Prime Minister’s top team fear he will find them uncomfortable’ (‘The battle to save Boris’, 22 January). During a working life spent in business, I came to realise that one of the most valuable skills you could master was how to tell someone things they would rather not hear while maintaining good relations with them. If the PM is intent on firing many of his staff, it would be prudent for whoever appoints their replacements to ensure that as many of them as possible

The irresistible lure of classified ads

The great thing about classified ads is that they have not usually been created by an agency — so what you get is the advertiser’s own best efforts to announce themselves, and what they have to offer, in just 20 words or so. You can glean a lot from what they say, and not always in the way intended. Take this particularly telling example from the Spectator personal ads a couple of years ago: ‘Looking to meet woman on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy).’ That he added (and paid for) the last three words tells you more than he could ever understand. Others are far more engaging — like the ‘charismatic