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Week at the top

John Timpson is chairman of Timpson, a high street service retailer based in Wythenshowe, Manchester. The company was founded in 1903 and currently has 350 shops around the UK. John is married to Alex and has five children, of which two work in the business.

Being a retailer I used to feel guilty not working Saturdays, but now Saturday morning is golf. With the course close to home, I can play 18 holes, visit the bar and be home for lunch.

"Back early today," observed Alex, my wife. I had a good reason, we were off to Manchester City with son Edward and our foster child. Our season tickets showed City grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory and sliding towards relegation.

An evening of low brow television ended with Match of the Day viewing City's loss from another angle.

The thick wodge of Sunday papers won't be read beyond the business bits. There is a Board Meeting tomorrow. To prepare properly, I read every document twice.

The afternoon is filled by children. Our grandchildren and their parents come for lunch, then I drive our son Henry to boarding school.

The rest of Sunday is spent writing lists for the week ahead and putting mail in neat piles for Barbara, my secretary. Alex spots the list, "Don't forget to book our holiday on the Trans Siberian Railway".

I start with the dentist. At 7.10am Mr Torlop already had someone in the chair. In Timpson uniform, it's Alan, a Relief Manager having "an emergency filling before going to run Nantwich."

We seldom make decisions at board meetings, the purpose is communication and discussion. The meeting finishes by 1pm, leaving time to tour the office.

Back at my desk I field two irritating 'phone calls, one selling investment advice, the other tickets for the Test Match. Jools, our PR Consultant, wants me to do a radio interview. Half an hour later, I am talking about stiletto heels on Radio Manchester.

It's 'snooker night'. Three friends, all as bad as me at snooker, arrive at 8.15 pm. After a fun two hours, we manage to complete three frames.

Another office day. A morning discussion with six branch managers with an open agenda. After 45 minutes they reveal what they really think. I have some excellent ideas for our engraving business and discover a middle management problem.

I leave at 1pm to play Real Tennis, a game I discovered far too late in life.

Two hours later, Robert, our in-house graphic designer, shows me a new training manual. Robert is a genius – he turns ideas into pictures and brings training to life.

"Don't forget your meeting," said Barbara. It was a statutory review regarding our foster child. I bit my lip as protocol got in the way of progress.

Our driver Colin arrives at 5am and we reach Newbury at 8am. I normally arrive without warning, but after visiting three shops in Newbury, every branch within 50 miles knew I was on the road.

The ten shops I see today are mostly trouble free, although one manager is too weak for the job and another has severe financial worries.

My son, James, our Managing Director, rings about our shops in Ireland. It is his fourth call of the day. We run the business by mobile 'phones.

Colin drops me at the ChildLine Head Office. I have been a Childline Trustee for two years. It's a worthwhile charity with a clear objective. Esther Rantzen chairs the meet­ing with her usual enthusiasm.

At 9pm I join my daughter Victoria and her husband for steak and chips before going to our Chelsea flat for a feeble attempt at The Telegraph crossword and then bed.

I speak at a marketing conference on 'Managing Change in a Growing Business'. Fortunately, the audience are livelier than I first thought.

Colin drives me to Stevenage where I talk to a Sketchley Area Managers' Conference about our 'Upside down Management'.

I often underestimate the journey back and arrive home an hour late.

I play tennis with a friend, Tom, at 8am. We have played this early game of singles every week for 15 years. I reach the office at 10am for a pensions meeting. I continue to back up our Final Salary Scheme and encourage new employees to join.

Our trading week ends on Thursday so Friday is gossip day. Area Managers ring every shop and catch up on any issues that need discussed.

"It's alright for you," said Alex when I got home. "I've been stuck here all week." We went to the Dysart Arms, a local pub with brilliant food and talked about children, grandchildren and holidays. "The sports clothes washed this week suggest you had plenty of spare time," said Alex. "I presume you sorted out the Trans Siberian Railway." I winced "It will be the first thing I do on Monday."

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