Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My secret history

For the first time, I failed to post yesterday, for a variety of reasons of which the chief one was that I was fresh out of inspiration. Surely, I thought, my life isn't so pathetic that I can't manage one blogworthy event a day? But that, dear reader, is seemingly what it has become. I blame the social climate. Problems have become issues. Anger must be managed. "Characters" we used to love are become Prozac pussycats. Even criminals are a community. And angry characters with problems are surrounded by an impenetrable ring of shrinks, mediators and caring employers waving codes of conduct written by people who have never had an inappropriate moment in their lives.

"Inappropriate". Even uttering the word purses the prissy lips. I love being inappropriate. To appropriate currently approved formulations, I celebrate being inappropriate, I am EMPOWERED by it, for fuck's sake.

I entered journalism for entirely inappropriate reasons: the drink, the random working hours, the irreverent cameraderie, the drink, the rush of deadline mania, the bylines, the drink, the carousing, and most important, I was otherwise in every respect unemployable. After dropping out of my law studies to be a writer, my first proper job was as an insurance clerk. I wanted to pursue something that would not tax my creative resources. Imagine my annoyance when they demanded dedication to the job. Hah! Sacked once for lateness (chronic), a second time for piling all the claims in a big cupboard while the boss was on holiday (he opened the cupboard, his troubles fell on him).

So it was that I entered provincial newspapering. My introduction to it was by a group of fellow hacks who welcomed me aboard with an all-day drinking session that I have no memory of. This was the job for me. A rampaging, cynical, panic-driven milieu where every reporter worth his salt had a bottle of Scotch on the desk and wrote better pissed than sober. A job whose perks pulled birds and guaranteed free passage though the fleshpots, ushered hungry-eyed by an even lower form of life, PR flacks.

Now all that is gone. Bean-counters shuffle human resources across productivity charts. Shouting at the hired help over cretinous copy is likely to land you in a mediation session, or an anger management course. Which guarantees a future suppurating with cretinous copy. As for the drink, well, I had to pack it in or find a stool in the great pub in the sky.

And all that is my excuse for having no life to speak of. Still, the characters live on in memory, and of that, dear reader, I shall certainly speak, another time.


Blogger patroclus said...

Dave, you have such a lovely turn of phrase. "Suppurating with cretinous copy" is the best thing I've read all day.

7:40 PM  
Blogger DavetheF said...

Thanks. *Blush*

7:52 PM  
Blogger Wyndham said...

Ah, provincial journalism. I can't think of a more motley collection of sad-sack characters I met in my life. My favourite was my news-editor, a hopeless drinker, who would read the paper every day just to see if he had run-over and killed anybody on the way home. Happy days.

5:03 PM  
Blogger DavetheF said...

Talking of characters, the late lamented Rand Daily Mail once had a copytaster who we shall call Joe, another bugger for the bottle.
He came in for his shift one evening to find an enormous pile of agency copy the day staff had failed to process. In a fit of rage, he rushed to the sixth-floor window and hurled the reams of copy into the road below.

The chief sub arrived a bit later. 'Where's all the copy, Joe?" he inquired. "It's on the streets already," was the terse reply.

9:06 AM  

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