The gathering and dissemination of information is a task not cut out for everyone, I sadly conclude - or, to be more specific, it's not the job for me. Give me copy any day and I will prune it, fluff it up and delete with joy - but when it comes to nosing out the latest gossip I fail miserably.

Just as the wronged spouse inevitably ends up asking, 'Why was I the last to know?' I too am known for expressing similar sentiments. One fine day I suddenly discover what I think is newsworthy material. Feeling suitably chuffed, I go about enlightening all who come my way, only to find that every Tom, Dick and Harry seems to already be cognisant of the facts and will even add spicy details which make the bearer of tidings feel ignorant and woefully out of touch with reality.

What I have just dug up they seem to have known about months ago. Later, when I have had time to reflect on my shortcomings, I ask myself, why didn't they think of telling me as soon as they knew about it? Was it because they presumed I would have heard about it just as they had?

Defeated and dejected, the person who was under the misapprehension that she was breaking news for a change instead of merely hearing about it second-hand disappears into a corner to nurse her wounds and brood over her lack of news sense. That's when she comes to the conclusion that what she lacks is reliable contacts. As she licks her wounds in private, she makes a momentous decision. She will build contacts and reliable sources of information. A brief moment of elation is followed by frustration as she is not sure how one goes about accomplishing this. How does one go about it, she wonders.

She's heard about the importance of being in the right place at the right time. But that is easier said than done. Her miserable sense of direction and less than impeccable sense of timing have been her downfall time and again. She mulls over the instances when she had jumped to conclusions only to realise later that she hadn't looked before she leapt. This propensity had led her to drop many a brick, enough to make a hod carrier proud. So, although she might know what a hod carrier does, she is totally in the dark about what is going on around her.

It suddenly occurs to her that one of the qualities of a good news gatherer is intuition. Reflecting on whether or not she has this uncanny ability, images of her prognostic powers gone wrong flash before her eyes. How often has she been convinced that something would come to pass but it didn't? More often than she would like to remember.

Deleting this from the list of things she would like to believe she is, she ponders over her ability to make people confide in her. Yes, this is one quality she is convinced she possesses. However, when she casts her mind back to secrets confided in her, all she can remember are the most mundane details that have filled her ears, nothing she would have been tempted to shout from the rooftop.

How about the ability to put two and two together? Surely this would stand one in good stead in one's quest for 'knowledge'? But this news-gathering aid is quickly dismissed as she knows from experience that maths is her weak point. Try as she might, she could never fathom the mysteries of x and y. Even today, the thought of crunching numbers makes her break out in a sweat.

As the list of reporting skills is run through rapidly with little success, she settles for the unpalatable truth: Being a brick-dropping, not-looking-before-she-leaps kind of character, she is doomed to always be the last to know.