All This to Become a Hack

October 30, 2009

Bad news. My career plans have been dealt a callous blow with the news that journalism is dying. Since the turn of the year, I’ve been planning to go back to college and study for my NCTJ qualifications, thus being accredited as a powerful yet benevolent journalist.

Upon reading this post on the Fleet Street Blues blog, I was enlightened as to the fact that I’m heading down a dead end. It seems helpless, but are people just whinging without really putting the graft in?

I’ve never assumed that once I’ve finished the NCTJ course that I’ll just walk into a job. In fact, quite the opposite. I envisioned the NCTJ as just the start, with a year or two of scraping about in interships, temping and maybe even a bit of freelance before anything approaching a full-time job availed itself.

It seems to me that it’s about sorting the journalists from the boys. People will always want news, which in turn means that there will always be people required to find it. Just because journalism isn’t the booming industry it once was (remember we are in a recession too) it seems that people are complaining that they haven’t got an easy ride out of laziness. Surely with some time, proactivity and positivity there’s hope for newbies?

But then what do I know, I’m just a naive greenhorn who is yet to be chewed up and spat out by the machine. All I do know is, doing a course and then expecting employers to be queuing up to get hold of you without any groundwork seems a little more naive. Red-top scandal sized naive.

Anyway, I enrol on tuesday and start the course in February. I’m moving to London, and it’ll cost me some savings but what’s the worst that can happen? I come out the other side with a new qualification, a clearer picture of what I want to do with my life and get another middling job in an anonymous office with annoying work-mates and an average wage? I’ll still have me health.


Food Poisoning

October 24, 2009

As the title would suggest, I spent yesterday in bed recovering from food poisoning. Thursday was one of those hellish nights where you go through an oddysey of vomiting and diarrhoea and end up feeling utterly eviscerated.

An illness like that is a war of attrition. You know you can get through it but you have to get your way through the various stages:

Stage 1: Feeling ‘under-the-weather’ and nausea. This stage can be the worst, in many ways. You feel something coming – in these days of pandemics you assume it to be swine, hamster or platypus flu – and you know you are in for a rough night. It’s that horrible anticipation of what is about to happen and the perpetual discomfort that goes with it.

Stage 2: Effluence. This stage is a lot nicer than it sounds. The outflow of any kind of bodily fluid is fantastic and it’s the same for vomit and poo. Obviously, you don’t want to overdo it, but the initial outpouring can be a lovely relief. The only problem is when it’s persistent – that feeling of discomfort can be irritating when you have to repeatedly leap out of bed and run to the toilet. Matters are made worse if you have a broken foot (as I do) where every trip becomes a limp for dignity.

Stage 3: The Green Shoots of Recovery: All your outgoings are done and now it’s just a matter of refilling your body. Bravery is an important part of this stage, as you have to force yourself to lie in positions that only an hour before were causing you to vomit almost immediately. Forcing down liquid and food also takes guts, and as you have lost all of yours down the toilet, it’s a difficult time.

Stage 4: Full Recovery. Back to normal. Your empty stomach craves food as several releases of trapped wind feel like the best orgasms of your life. You have made it, you are human once more.

The Blog Post About Nothing

October 20, 2009

I’ve been watching a lot of Seinfeld lately. I like the show a lot, but a few things have struck me about it.

Like a lot of American sitcoms, the main characters seem to date an inordinate amount of, mostly attractive, people. As an Englishman I find this odd as we don’t have the same dating system present in this country. I like the general idea: going out with one person (exclusively) at a time to a series of different activities to see if it builds into something more. I think that something similar happens here in theory, but the series of dates with its plethora of rules doesn’t exist. What are all the rules? Kiss on the first date, but no sex; don’t go back to the other person’s place until the 2nd date; then there’s the whole ‘base’ system which I’m still yet to grasp fully. What is second or third base? Is first base just a hello? Is it a home run when you marry, or when you have sex or when you first go to the toilet in front of the other person? Seems like a precarious course of protocol where you could mess up and end up back where you started unwittingly,  like a passport application.

Over here, the process is pretty much caveman-style. Meet a girl in a club or bar, go back together, get your wicket maiden (I’m coining this as the English equivalent sporting analogy of getting to 4th base, or whatever awkward sex with a stranger is). Similarly, nothing lasting generally comes of it apart from teenage pregnancy, STIs and a sense of self-loathing.

Back to the numbers of partners. Is this a bit of artistic license from the writers? Or do people in New York really have a new partner every other week – serial monogamy par excellence? And does everyone drink so much coffee?

So, American people, with your caffeine-rich bloodstreams and bulging little black books – how does it go down?

The Hangover

October 17, 2009

Today I am hungover. I don’t feel great.

My stomach is doing a kind of bubbling thing and I can’t decide whether I do or don’t need food. Consequently, I’ve only had a little bit to eat which is basically the coward’s way out – I don’t want to commit to one or the other technique in case it goes horrifically wrong.

I went out in town last night for one of those hazy nights where you drink quite a lot without really trying and end up doing things and meeting people that you would otherwise never have done. It tends to be something like talking to a slightly quirky looking person about their beard or interesting tattoos in a conversation which starts off friendly but then someone oversteps the boundaries of your burgeoning friendship with an inappropriate comment about religion/fashion/football and the other person thinks I’m weird. It’s like a relationship in miniature.

So today I’m under a duvet on the settee feeling slightly blue and nauseous while watching the football. All my best attempts to lead an a-typical lad’s life are falling to pieces. The work>pub>football>pub>roast dinner>match of the day 2>work cycle is pretty easy to fall into and like everyone else, I like to think of myself as an individual who doesn’t cow-tow to societal peer pressure. But I’m really not, I am no island.

Hope to feel better.

Number 1

October 15, 2009

Not sure if there’s an easy way to start this. Introductions are always a little bit awkward.

I have broken my foot. This has given me a not unwelcome month off work. After the initially exciting realisation that I didn’t have to go in to the office, I soon twigged that I would need to fill the free time with stuff. I tend to write quite slowly so I figured that a blog would be ideal.

I should start by saying that I broke my foot playing football. It’s a stress fracture which is brought on by repetitive strain, which means that I play(ed) a lot. However, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m particularly good at it. I’m not terrible, but in my short career I’ve only managed to produce a handful of memorable moments, and most of these involve me being hurt in some way.

My football career is quite similar to the rest of my life. Not the being broken in the end part – that would be depressing – but the being fairly mediocre part. Again, I don’t want to make anyone think that I’m down on mediocrity. I think most people are fairly middling and average, and those people tend to be the normal ones. I’m instantly wary of people who have achieved too much or are really good at one thing. It makes me think they have probably ignored more normal stuff in pursuit of being an expert at upholstery or kite-surfing. Either that or they have effortless talent, which is annoying.

I’m competent at a lot of things and not really brilliant at anything. I think that’s called being a dilettante, which makes something quite mundane sound a bit exotic.  The reason I say this is because I’d like to put anyone who is reading this at ease. No one wants to read missives from some heroic character who has achieved all and can do all. With me, you don’t have to worry about that, just sit back and enjoy the ego boost that will come once you compare your life to mine. I’m just the right balance for this as my life isn’t that bad either. If I was a down-on-my-luck homeless person – whose only possession is a laptop with wi-fi, clearly – then that would be too far the other way, you’d just end up pitying me and feeling bad that people were much worse off than you.

I’m going to try and write something on here at regular intervals, not necessarily everyday – not enough happens when you are stuck at home – but at least once a week. I can’t promise much though.