It was the late sixties everyone my age seemed to be becoming a pop star or an actor:
they were all getting famous, leading interesting lives, making loads of money and, most importantly, getting tons of sex.
I was scoring low on most of these happiness tests and zero when it came to the sex. I was tone deaf, sang like a dog and couldn’t act but I had a feeling that I could write.
So, after giving up my safe, well paid position, I did the round of the employment agencies and started on a long succession of temporary, dead end jobs which gave me plenty of time in the evenings to read novels and delude myself that I could write one of my own.
And that’s how, in 1970, after a year of these boring jobs I came to fetch up at The Sunday Globe as a messenger cum office boy. The job was supposed to be temporary but just being a nobody at such a happening place as The Globe was so fantastic and such a turn-on that I stayed. I mean, Christ, I was working on the paper that my own dad read every Sunday with his breakfast. And I was working with real writers. O.K. they weren’t novelists but people were at least reading what they’d written. And there were girls there too. Not many, but enough to keep a young fellow of twenty alert and happy.
My undemanding duties gave me an opportunity to observe the journalists closely
and I soon decided that being a reporter had to be the most perfect job in the world. It was full of interest, no day was ever the same, you spent a good deal of time out of the office and you got to write for money.
It even had the potential for lots of sex: the journos were always boasting to me how quickly they scored when a woman found out she was talking to a reporter. Furthermore, some of the best looking women in the building were in editorial.
I decided that writing the great English novel would have to be put on hold for a while and started looking around for a journalism course. I found one that cost ten pounds. It required me to attend a class on one evening a week for six weeks in some dingy premises behind King’s Cross Station.
When I’d completed the course successfully and received my diploma I’d taken my courage in both hands and shown it to The Globe’s editor, Mackintosh, along with some examples of my writing. He’d laughed at the diploma which he said wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, but was genuinely impressed by my prose and eventually agreed to accept me as a trainee. It was a big gamble on Mackintosh’s part because trainee reporters on national Sundays like The Globe were usually recruited from the ranks of university graduates or those who’d served a long apprenticeship on local papers.
Mackintosh made it clear that although I was to receive on-the-job training in journalism I would still be expected to carry out some of my previous duties; but I’d be able to attend the weekly story conferences, follow up stories assigned to me and help write occasional short paragraphs known as fillers. I was also to take over the “Audacious Crimes” column, but more of that later.
Julia's Room by Michael Murray http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008WDL6XW
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