Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Thirty Years' Hard Labour

It is 30 years ago today (9 July 2014) that I started my media career - as a trainee reporter at the Hull Daily Mail, in Jameson Street, Hull.

I worked in a big newsroom in a listed building, famous for its Victorian tiling.

Everything there seemed ancient. The windows were of dirty frosted glass; the typewriters were heavy and semi-functional; all activity was decidedly pre-computer and pre-mobile phone.

My reporter colleagues at the Hull Daily Mail were great: sociable, kind, boozy and utterly loyal.

Almost to a person, they were good trade unionists who looked after each other. Those happy, carefree days are distant now.

I spent two-and-a-half glorious years at the Hull Daily Mail before passing my journalism exams  and moving to the Evening Telegraph in Coventry - on Corporation Street - where I was a senior reporter and Pop Editor, writing a thrice-weekly column.

I went on to freelance for the now-deceased News of the World and then edit the pop column at the Daily Star - at famous "Black Lubianca" Express Newspapers building on Fleet Street, before becoming its Showbiz Reporter and Television Editor, running the showbiz desk.

Then I went drastically upmarket to work as a news reporter and for the foreign desk of the Sunday Telegraph, at Canary Wharf, and, afterwards, the features department of the Mail on Sunday.

I was the London correspondent of American news magazine US News and World Report, contributed news-features to Time magazine, and worked as a business writer at the CNN TV in Rathbone Place in London's West End.

After my journalistic career, I went into PR and worked as an account director for a City of London financial PR agency, and then as Head of News and acting Director of Communications for the Catholic Church in England and Wales, based in Eccleston Square, London, and as Director of Communications for an animal charity based at Abbey Park, Leamington Spa, before starting my current communications director job in 2008.

Thirty years of hard graft.

Sitting at home today or doing a spot of gardening at my allotment at Earwig Corner, I cannot say it currently feels like I have been a resounding success.

I have certainly had a most varied and interesting career working in and with the media, but it has not made me wealthy or brought me much status in life.

Back in 1984, there was a sense that a staff job was a permanent affair.

You would have to do something pretty extraordinary to lose it.

Now, of course, businesses are constantly throwing talented and experienced people out of their jobs for no good reason. . . discarding them like used fag ends because their face does not fit anymore, or a grass-is-always-greener person is preferred.

Loyalty has become a one-way street, and that is very depressing.

Looking back, I can't help feel I might have been better off joining a profession, becoming a doctor or a solicitor, assuring myself a decent income and pension and some job security.

Or I could have become an investment banker and made enough dough by the age of 52 (or much younger) to be financially independent, rather than counting every penny.

All the same, I have on the whole really enjoyed my career, even if my talents and toil have not always been appreciated or adequately rewarded.


Mr Cheeky has been poorly again.

I let him out for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon and he returned utterly exhausted, could hardly move and would not eat or drink.

So, it was back to the vet - who was almost as mystified as I was.

Now I am preparing chicken broth to help nurse Mr C back to good health. He is already looking up a little.

I wonder if he should just stay indoors. Every time he goes out, something awful happens.

As you might have picked up, I have had a lot of time on my hands of late.

So, I have been writing my first song - entitled Mr Cheeky - about the lad's exploits.

I am up to 20 verses. Well, there is so much to say. . . 


This incredible, astonishing, fascinating World Cup goes on.

I can recall watching World Cups since Mexico 1970 - 44 years ago - when Brazil were in majestic form, beating Italy 4 -1 in the Final to lift (and keep) the Jules Rimet Cup.

This year, the Group of 16 and Quarter Final matches were often extremely close. Hardly a cigarette paper betwixt the sides.

So, Germany's seven-goal annihilation of Brazil last night was as shocking as it was thrilling.

Remember this is the same German side in the same tournament that within the past couple of weeks drew 2 - 2 to Ghana, and only beat the USA and Algeria by one goal in very close games!

Even without two star players, how did the great Brazil collapse so totally? It is almost beyond belief.

I am half-German - my beloved mum is from Bremen - so I should have been delighted by the German victory (England having been knocked out of course).

Instead, I was horrified to see the great Brazil humiliated on their home soil.

I wanted Brazil to win (if the plucky Costa Rica could not!)

I cannot help but secretly wish the Netherlands or Argentina will be able to beat Germany in the Final on Sunday, however unlikely that now appears.

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