Extent of the damage to one’s ego …

Journalism isn’t all glamour you know.

Ok, so I’ve stayed in top hotels, dined for free, been paid to go to concerts, received all sorts through the post to secure my attention and danced, full of champagne and fun-sized foods, at posh parties.

I’ve also made a right fool of myself.

I still cringe to this day when I think of how I swaggered into an interview with an air traffic controller and thrust out my hand ready to give the confident, in-control hand-shake of a professional hack. On taking hold of the man’s hand I gasped loudly and jumped back. He had a prosthetic limb and I had some apologies to make. Mind you, he did let me see how well designed the limb was. I tell you, if it wasn’t cold to the touch I’d never had known. Or looked like an idiot.

Firefighters doing what they do

Less embarrassing and more a reality of the job (I hope) is the lazy foolishness that comes from repetition. We make daily calls to fire brigade, police and ambulance to check what’s going on in our patch and, on occasion, might venture out after a call if something is worth reporting. I did this after a dramatic house fire from which a family of five had miraculously escaped. It was early in the morning and I’d not had my bacon butty and brew yet but off I went – determined, resilient and tenacious.

I arrived and spoke to the chief fire officer, asking a question repeated by most journalists on most days to fire brigades up and down the country: “So, what’s the extent of the damage?”

Only when the firefighter had stopped laughing did I realise we were both standing in front of a house with the front blown off and rubble spread about our feet.

Then there was my time as a critic, attending a theatre intent on producing a cleverly worded, critical yet entertaining review of Cats. I needed the loo (thanks to the complimentary wine). On my return the lights had dimmed so I snuck down the aisle to find my seat.

The Cats came out, purring and meowing among the audience members, so I walked faster towards where I thought I’d been sitting. I spotted my friend only to hear an old dear sitting beside tutt then add, equally loudly, “well that’s not one!”

I was immediately surrounded by actors dressed as cats ushering me to my seat before I ruined the whole performance.

I won’t ever forget jumping from a plane for charity – and a feature. My bravery was of war-reporting proportions as I leapt from 2,500 feet to help fund a local school. I was gracious and proud until I landed face-first in a cow pat, chip my front tooth and was dragged by my parachute through mud and cow dung for quite a distance.

I then had to walk past all the teenage boys who were laughing and jeering at my cack-covered self. Ungrateful little –

Lastly, and by no means least was the embarrassment at having to take calls from the mum, dad, granny and many relatives of a child I’d seen in a drama on TV and commented on cruelly in a television column. That was a long day.

I think of these moments because the second nose pad on my glasses has broken and I now have a piece of toilet roll across the bridge of my nose: Adam Ant meets Jack Duckworth.

I’m fighting any misery or self-pity but do realise I’m humiliated at my position despite knowing I shouldn’t be, despite knowing it’s not my fault and despite knowing I’m doing all I can to find work.

So long as we think it is the fault of individuals that they’re unemployed in a recession – rather than acknowledge the global economic crisis that put us here – I fear there’ll be many more people feeling this way.

Number of jobs I have applied for: 11

Wage range in jobs applied for: between £18k and £44k

Things that cheer me: I saw man in his 20s wearing in a T-shirt that read I STILL LIVE AT HOME. You have to admire the skill in recognising and profiting from social change that swiftly.


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