`What's the weather been like in London?' `Oh,' I lied, as kindly as I could, `a bit cloudy now and then, in between the unbearably hot and really rather unpleasantly insistent sunshine'
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Summer again, and the real editor escapes for a few days' peace - or so he thinks. Andrew Marr (Top Man, as we call him here) chose for some reason known only to himself to take his family off to Devon this week. Quite why he didn't go to France, where he can get silly numbers of francs for his pound, it's hard to say: that's certainly where the economics editor is going on holiday. Indeed, she had the foresight to buy her francs 10 days ago, when the pound was riding high. If she'd bought them yesterday she'd have been a lot worse off, which just goes to show that, on matters of personal finance, you should trust the economics editor of The Independent.

Still, on day two Andrew called in just to see how things were going in his absence. "Fine," said I. "Don't worry; just relax and enjoy yourself."

"Humph," he said. "Right now we're cooped up in the kitchen, with three children going stir crazy; it's chucking it down outside, and anything but relaxing." Never mind, I assured him, the clouds will blow over, you'll have a lovely time.

Next morning the news editor bounced into our morning conference suggesting that we send a photographer down to the Devon coast, because there were flood warnings all over: "Chucking it down, so I'm told," he declared cheerfully. "Terrible pity for anyone on holiday there. Oh, isn't that where the editor's gone for his break? Perhaps we should ring him up and get him to send us a piece (chortle, chortle)."

Now, it is true, and I am ashamed to admit it, that most good journalists do have a small vein of mischief in their bodies that would incline them to be mildly amused, in a schadenfreude kind of way, at the thought of the Top Man pacing irritably up and down his Devon cottage kitchen muttering imprecations at the weather.

But I firmly pointed out that that was not fair, and that we should be more civil and understanding about it.

So I didn't ask Andrew to write a piece - I just rang him to - well, you know, ask what the weather was like. "Humph. I'm thinking of coming back early," he snarled. "If it goes on like this."

Next morning the news editor breezed cheerfully into morning conference. "Guess what. You know where the editor's staying, down on the south coast? Well, there's a place near there they had three inches of rain yesterday. No kidding. In only a couple of hours. Chucking it down." And we all looked out of our 18th-floor windows in Canary Wharf, at the baking hot sun and the clear blue sky, marred only by the faint haze of yellow smog out across the City.

Well, I thought, better ring the editor and commiserate. "Gather the weather's not so good down there. I hope you're still having a good time though," I said, as kindly as I could.

"Humph," came the reply. "What's the weather been like in London?"

"Oh," I lied, as kindly as I could, "a bit cloudy now and then, in between the unbearably hot and really rather unpleasantly insistent sunshine." There was a long pause, and I could almost hear him thinking what we all learn every summer, but then conveniently forget before the next time: holidays are never any less stressful than work - only the stress is different, which makes it OK.

Never mind, next week Andy's back, and things will look up again, and I'll escape for a few days with the family. We're off to - where was it again? Ah yes: mid-Devon. Best take the wellies.