Friday, September 26, 2003

And so to the latest Guest Writer.

Regular readers will have heard of Alex Lemon, the "wonderfully bitchy" writer for the South Wales Echo and The Friday Thing.

In her inimitable style, Alex reflects on life as a regional hackette. If you're an editor or publisher and you're reading this -- GIVE ALEX A JOB! That's an order.

Well, Stuart asked me to be his third guest writer. Frankly, I was shocked. Shocked it took him so long to ask. Nah, I’m kidding. To be honest, I was shocked he asked at all, based on the calibre of his previous guest writerettes.

The first was Jamie Tarabay – international journalista extraordinaire, who jets off to far flung corners of the globe to record events in the world’s troublespots.

The second was Carolyn Cohagan – New York comedienne, performer and writer, who has entertained audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

And then there’s me – a regional hackette, two-and-a-half years into her journo career, 5ft 2in in her socks, with little more in the claims to fame department than a handful of front pages in the South Wales Echo. A publication with Stuart’s mum’s stamp of approval but not widely heard of outside the Land of the Leek.

(Isn’t it funny how all Stuart’s guest writer to date have been chicks? I think he fancies himself as a bit of an international super-stud, something along the lines of Austin Powers but without the ruffled shirt and dodgy teeth – and with one leg.)

But Stuart seems to think I’ll entertain you and so I duly respond to his challenge to do just that.

But I have two hard acts to follow and and Stu’s conviction that I have promise to live up to. This is a tough assignment. Not as tough as vox-popping the kind of people who frequent Cardiff Bus Station on whether Cardiff Council’s canteen should sell subsidised sarnies, but tough all the same.

It’s a pretty common misconception that journalism is a cool-assed career to have. Yeah, sure, it probably beats the pants off packing garlic bread or unblocking drains (although you almost certainly get paid more for scooping poop) but in journalism there’s an awful lot of crap to wade through before you get to the good bit – much like the life of the afore-mentioned drain-unblocker, but probably the only good bit there is pulling off your rubber gloves after the job’s done.

The life of the provincial journo is a strange one. You spend all day asking the kind of questions your parents used to hush your mouth for when you were a kid.

Most people disobey their parents by talking with their mouths full, bunking off school, drinking underage, getting tattoos, shagging inappropriate people. But we do it by becoming journalists. Our poor parents. They’re faced with having their children become universally despised by total strangers but they have to think of it as an achievement and show pride. Bless ‘em.

I may not be dodging bullets or stepping on landmines but I am forced to walk up to the odd-bods of Cardiff, stick my note book under their nose, make them say their piece on the topic of the day and pressure them into letting me take their photo. It astounds me that anyone ever says yes. Would you let a total stranger take your photo and splash it across the pages of the local paper? Would you fuck! But it seems to be the South Walian way. They can’t get enough of spilling their guts for the world, his wife and their neighbours.

Hey, look at our Stu – case in point. Whereas I would see losing a leg as a bloody good reason to hide under my bed and never come out, he shares every bit of dark and light with a big bunch of people he doesn’t know. And I can’t help but admire him for it, just as I admire the odd-bods of Cardiff Bus Station. Well, when I’m not too distracted by their wayward eyeballs, unique aroma and 15 reprobate devil-spawns.


Post a Comment

<< Home