07 September 2017

I made it

It's been quite an emotional day at the PA.

I passed my 90 wpm shorthand and was tantalisingly close to getting 100 wpm. I'm really proud of myself; I wasn't convinced I was going to pass 90 this morning. Also it feels good to know that the news course only get to 100 wpm after 20 weeks and two shorthand sessions a day. We have an intense rivalry with the news course, even though we have nothing to do with them. I think it's because they have it easy compared to us.

We also did final one-to-ones this afternoon. I nearly cried. When Roberta's proud of you, you know you've done well.

If you're reading this because you're considering the course, all I can say is do it. Don't let people put you off by telling you how intense it is. Yes you work hard but it is so worth it. I am a better journalist and a better person for spending these past nine weeks at the PA. I have met the best people and learnt so much.

Thank you. It has been a pleasure.

03 September 2017

Lord of the Files

I don't think I've ever seen so much loose paper strewn across one floor. A pile made up on notes that were once in fine order but are now scattered into chaos. Tomorrow morning will be dedicated to filing the lot and sorting my life out overall before heading back up to London for the final week. I can't believe how fast it has come about.

Seems just like yesterday when me, Arun and Viggo were discussing the lack of seating areas in Victoria over a falafel wrap on the very first day. I could say that I'm looking forward to the last few days but that would be a lie as the thought of exams forever looms. It's confirmed that media law is not my friend. I don't get on with shorthand that well either. Hopefully we'll be able to patch things up by the end. I think I've found some potential stories for the website and the feature was successful on top of everything else. So the two weeks have gone OK.

In terms of plans after course I'm still in two minds about whether to go find myself in a jungle somewhere or to carry on real life in a job to get further experience which is what Roberta has strongly recommended that I do. Plus I would love to be able to recall the feeling of not being in my overdraft so it looks like it'll have to be the latter. But onwards and upwards!

01 September 2017

Once more unto the breach...

Tomorrow I will set foot into the PA office for the first time in a fortnight. Yes, I know tomorrow is Saturday but I have a frankly horrifying amount of printing and filing to do. I'm pleased to see everyone else has lapsed with their shorthand too. I feel marginally better about myself knowing I'm not the only one. Anyway, the important thing is placement.

After the initial migraine stress-fest of last week, this week has been much more relaxed. There hasn't been much going on in terms of news (practically every lawyer we try to talk to is on holiday) so I haven't written as much as the others seem to have done. Still, three news pieces and a feature is pretty good going. I'm actually really proud of my last news piece. It has my byline on it and everything (due to computer errors etc my first two are credited as 'The Lawyer').

This week I've been doing transcription and database work. I now have the skills to track down virtually any lawyer and find out everything about them. I have also discovered a similar tricks for businesses.

These past few days have been fairly relaxed. That's not to say I'm not exhausted. For the past week I have survived almost solely on McDonald's, croissants and free daiquiris from what used to be Peter Cook's Estbalishment Club on Greek Street (now a Zebrano). I'm going to miss spending all day in the middle of Soho. My lungs are probably black with pollution and I know the whereabouts of more sex shops than I ever wanted to (I was delighted to discover two such establishments had opened since I was last in Soho, which make up for the sleaze Soho lost when another of its sex shops turned into a respectable retailer). Life in the gutter is grand. I wouldn't change it for the world.

31 August 2017


I wasn't sure if coming home for the whole of my 'placement' period would be a good idea due to the sheer amount of work and potential distractions. But it turns out this was the right move. My bedroom is in the attic so it's a nice space to get things done.

It's been converted into an actual room I must add, my parents weren't that mean. But nothing happening in little old Chichester at the minute. Therefore I have found the process of work/revision that much easier. But do come to Chichester it's really nice and we have a great cathedral.

I've been writing out media law and magazine Industry notes all day hoping that some things will come to stick. Now my writer's bump has blown up to the size of a grape and cramp has fully taken over. But everything comes at a price I guess. I'm sure you're thinking this guy is literally just thinking of any old BS to write down, and yes, that is exactly what I'm doing.

Hope everyone has enjoyed their penultimate placement day and tomorrow is the same X

30 August 2017

It's been a while...

Seven weeks to the day since I last posted. For some reason blogging has always landed itself at the bottom of my list of priorities and this has evidently remained consistent throughout the course. So expect daily updates on here from me as I try to squeeze out in as much detail as possible what's been happening.

As I didn't go on placement I've been set an equivalent amount of work consisting of news and features (of course). Having been fully concentrated on these shorthand has somewhat been neglected, allowing for my dreams to be made up of the billion and one letter combinations just sitting there and laughing in my face. Hopefully I'll get there though.

I've been writing about medical apps for the last few days and have taken a genuine interest in the subject seeing how much variety there is out there. It's also reminded me how much I really need to get back into some form of exercise and cut down on the Chicken Cottage meals no matter how deep my love for them goes.

I also lost half a day of work due to a throbbing head which was in no way whatsoever related to any over-consumption of alcohol. I made up for it the evening anyway I swear.

Next post pending...peace.

The thrill of the new

I find it hard to keep up momentum. As you can see, somebody hasn't really kept up to date with this blog. My personal blog has long since been forgotten. And I'm yawning as I write this.
After a short while, boredom gets hold of me. I move on to something else. At this point I'm a little concerned that this is about to happen with my flailing desire to become a journalist.
I used to play the guitar. That hobby has all but disappeared after deciding I had stopped improving. Sometimes the pub is even a source of boredom. Can you believe that?!
At uni I watched film after film. Now when I slap something on Netflicks, I often walk out of the room and find myself doing something else for a while. On return, I have completely lost the plot of the movie.
Larry David used to be my hero. Now in front of an episode of Curb, I occasionally get bored  (although I'm certainly looking forward to the upcoming season). It's been a while since his last TV series, which leads me to believe that he, too, gets bored of what he is doing. Perhaps this is a problem for everyone. Does everyone get as bored as me?

This week at the Nursing Times has been a bit like that. I started by writing some news pieces for the website. At the beginning, it was incredibly exciting. My name was on the website under a byline on the first day!!
By the end of the week, after number 6 or 7 had been uploaded, that original enthusiasm had dissipated. It was the same when I tried to learn Turkish. I'm feeling something similar for shorthand too. I now look at those text books with some sort of disgust or contempt and almost immediately find other, more important things to be getting on with.
Someone offered me box tickets for the Spurs game on Sunday. Of course that took priority over the long list of tasks I need to do. I hate boxing. But when one of my friends suggested staying up for the big game on Saturday night, I couldn't refuse - how exciting!

That's what it is, isn't it? The thrill of something new. I'm hoping there will be a load of that in the future.

P.s. Rach - sorry this isn't for you because it's too much of a diary entry.

P.p.s. Anyone else- sorry about the "I" disease.

29 August 2017

First Week at Screen International

A week down, only four days to go- my time at Screen International started off as a bit of a slog and quickly turned into a blast.
Surrounded on the first day by industry jargon, fast-moving festival news and a website overhaul I felt on my first day that I was perhaps the surplus to the requirements of an organisation that was ticking along like a well-oiled machine. But as I got into the groove, got more involved and generally mustard yo the courage to chat to the people around me, it became a really good time. I've been gifted plenty of bylines and have learnt the ropes of the CMS and the day-to-day operations of a magazine that wields considerable influence over its sector. 

That I found intimidating. I'm a massive film fan, as anyone who knows me will attest to-working at Screen was a sort of dream. Their writers are flying around to the worlds festivals, going to screenings, special events; networking and working inside the industry in a way that I could only listen to with mixed feelings of awe and jealously. Today they just turned down an interview with Ai Weiwei...
I realised soon on that I know so little about the film industry, and this intimidated me from the outset. How was I to get involved with a group thats knowledge and turnaround was several plains above my humble fandom? But as I worked into he rhythm of publication, the festival product the magazine has been putting together and the sort of race that it works at, I've been given plenty to keep my hands full with. And it's been great! I've learnt so much, not only about the film industry, but the practice of journalism and the mechanics of creating, distributing and understanding good content in the real, practical world.

I'm almost sad to be leaving so soon. It's not exactly been easy-I've had to learn on the spot almost everyday I've been here, and the hours are actually not that much kinder than at PA- but I've relished being given the chance to do stuff and even feel like a part of the team. I was invited out to the team lunch meeting last Friday and that was as much a personal measure of success as any. I doubt I'll get a job here It seems that everyone in the office ends up at Screen after building a considerable body of consumer publication experience. They end up here as a sort of culmination of working through several other titles and using their experience and contacts to power the industry reach of Screen.

Roberta has given us enough to keep our hands full, which hasn't exactly been ice with the long days. I wouldn't exactly say my shorthand has fallen off, but i'm struggling to commit to an hour a day and the exams next week are in need of some revision. Anyways, heres to the grind. I was half expecting Roberta to email saying weed to go into PA for bank holiday. the fact we didn't and I consider that a bonus should offer a hint about what this course has done to me...

26 August 2017

You thought Roberta was tough? Think again...

So we're half way through placement. I have written two pieces that have been published on the website and a feature, which I just need to send off to the relevant person. I know more about equestrian law than can ever possibly be useful to me. I have also broken a personal record.

For the past three days, I have been in bed with a horrendous migraine. It all started with that feature...

Essentially, it was savaged by my placement supervisor. Within an hour, my stress had brought on a very strong headache. The kind that laughs in the face of painkillers. Even prescription painkillers. When I woke up the next morning, it was still there. Fortunately, they gave me the day off. And the next day too when I was still felt like my head was being microwaved and pressure cooked all at once. I even got neck pain and cyanosis, which was fun. At one point I was pretty much convinced that I had either a) a brain tumour or b) a parasitic worm in my skull.

So yeah, that was fun. On the plus side, it gave me chance to write my obit. On the down side, I'm now terrified that Stan Lee is going to drop dead any minute...

20 August 2017

The difference a week can make

To say I was stressed at the start of this week is an understatement. It felt like I might have to sell my soul to get Prime Opportunities done on time. But after that initially day's panic, everything fell into place. I think we were even ahead of schedule in the end. We now have a print product ready to go off to the printers and two apps ready to launch. All that's left is the website. I have a feeling that's going to be a slightly last minute job but hey ho, c'est la vie. 

I start my fortnight at The Lawyer tomorrow. Apparently it's fairly quiet at the moment so a tiny part of me hopes I might get the bank holiday off. Somehow I doubt it though. On the plus side, I don't have to go in until 10:00 am, which is an indescribable blessing after working for 12 days straight. 

In other news, I need to write an obituary. Following my prediction of Bruce Forsyth's death about an hour before it happened, part of me is slightly nervous that I might accidentally kill again. Any requests, get them in early...

18 August 2017

Lifting the Lid

Part of living 'as a journalist' is understanding the mechanics of the world around you, particularly as it pertains to what you are doing. It might sound obvious, but there's a degree of immersion involved in writing about something, so much so that it can often consume you.

Such is the case with our beloved Prime Opportunities, a magazine that has taken up the best part of my time for the last fortnight. As much as I consider myself open-minded, the over 50s sector is something that I haven't previously taken it upon myself before to really look at. As editor, it's all I can think about now when I pick up a paper.

What is the angle, though?

Whilst its easy to talk about how the course has changed my perspective on things and reconfigured certain patterns and bad habits in the way that I've approached tasks; the most important lesson I've learnt as we reach the end of the line i that this is bloody hard work.

I do kind of enjoy it tho. It's something that I've learnt to love, the demands of being in the loop are such that takes some getting used to.

Next week, I'm off to Screen International, the Business to Business title that perhaps best embodies my aspirations. I'm excited and a little nervous. The festival scene and all that's moving inside the industry is something I've always observed from a distance and now I get to peel back the curtain. Let's see how it goes...

15 August 2017

Longest days of my life - start of week six

Who would have thought that 9 nine weeks could turn into what seems like nine longest years of my life.

It reminds me of Nelson Mandela's 'long walk home'.  Surely it would have been better to have been locked up than to be drilled daily by the sultry sounds of our dear tutor Roberta saying 'who are your audience.' and 'how has it moved on'.

I am sure she loves every minute of making us squirm in our seats.

There is no excuse for not being ambitious, but in my next life I definitely won't be choosing to be a journalist.

What on earth did I think I was doing, at 55 -years-old I should be looking to downsize in everything including work not jolly well and trying to upgrade myself to some dam journalist. 

There are so many different components to this industry, its no joke, it constantly makes me dig deeper into what I don't have, so much that I am mentally and physically drained.

When I signed up for this course, I was told it is intense, but surely they could have given more insight to exactly how intense this is, it's a good job I don't have anything else my life to do.

reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand, reading, shorthand reading, shorthand,

For the last six weeks this has been my life.

But I have started so I will finish, I just need the strength to understand all the things that I am learning on a daily basis and to make it STICK!.

14 August 2017

Hello stress, my old friend

I am exceptionally good at dealing with stress. By which I mean I completely ignore how dangerous my workload is and then tell everybody I'm fine when I eventually pull through and don't want to die quite so much.

We're still a long way off that end point. One day of magazine production down and all the features are sorted aside from the fact that I don't have a cover photo, which is kind of a big deal. We're pretty much on schedule so I really ought to feel okay.

Except I'm not.

The next thing on our list is laying out the news. As news editor, this is pretty much my job and it will be my fault if we don't pull it off. When I was running my mental calculations last week, I reckoned we'd be absolutely fine for news. I was sort of banking on the others having some short 50 worders though. I assumed that since some of them were struggling for stories, they'd write less. Apparently not. Which means we have one item for the news digest. We need four or five. By tomorrow. And ultimately that's my responsibility.

I also need to flatplan the news but I can't do that until I've read everyone's pieces and I can't do that until people send me them. The lack of control stresses me out even more.

It's at the point where people are telling me to take a break. The downside of this being such a short course is that nobody here knows me well enough to understand how literally impossible that is for me. Fortunately for anyone reading this, I don't have time to explain why; there's too much work to do.