Before Christmas I rang up the local BS9 magazine in search of some valuable experience before applying to Masters courses. I had gotten used to being shot-down by whoever picked up the phone, usually with the answer “we have filled our quota for work experience for the foreseeable future. Try again later…”. I was therefore delighted when I was able to speak directly to the editor of a magazine. His name was Andy and, not to be at all hyperbolic, he was the loveliest man in the world. Rather than firing a disclaimer at me, this beautiful bloke said that he potentially had some work for me.
Before I could say ‘hyperbole’, the loveliest man on the planet was taking me to the headquarters of the ‘Bristol Pound’, a city-wide local currency that was in its early developing stages. I felt like a proper reporter, even if I was only shadowing Andy on this occasion. He had prised open a window to the world of reportage. I had taken my first step up the journalism ladder. I am still extremely grateful to Andy for renewing my optimism in the, at times, seemingly savage world of journalism. ‘Windows and ladders’ certainly beats ‘snakes and ladders’. No snakes as yet. There will undoubtedly be some Piers Morgans along the way (Grandma said the aforementioned slimy git was “a bit of alright” the other day. I had no words).
As a result of the faith Andy had shown in me, I persisted with my pursuit of further work experience and duly found some. Mike at the Primary Times took a chance on me. The Primary Times is a free magazine for primary school parents and pupils. I enjoyed my time there as a feature writer and chief tea-boy. Most of all though, it allowed me the opportunity to see a proper newsroom in full swing. The Primary Times is situated in the relatively serene eye of the surrounding storm that is the Bristol Evening Post. It was thrilling to (not quite) be a part of! People were running about and swearing a lot. I liked it.
The Primary Times experience meant that I had something substantial to show to St Mary’s when I applied for my Sports Journalism MA a few weeks ago. It was Andy though who had shown that initial conviction in my ability.
I still do the monthly magazine round for the BS9, partly out of gratitude to Andy but mainly because I am skint. Maybe I am just a sheltered individual but the mag-round has given me a huge amount of respect for postmen and an equal amount of disdain for letterbox manufacturers.
My trials and tribulations / letter to letterbox manufactures as a result of my BS9 delivery days:
1. What a beauty. What is wrong with a letterbox just being a letterbox or, better still, a letterbox not being a letterbox… a hole in a door! As I am breaking my back, lugging the local magazines around the hard streets of Westbury-on-Trym (could it sound anymore middle-class?) there is no better sight. A plank-of-wood door with a hole for letters. No nonsense. I don’t even have to use both hands deposit the goods. Letterbox manufacturers take note.
2. I call this letterbox ‘a clanger’. It is obvious from a mile off, for an experienced campaigner that is. Every home that has a clanger inevitably also has a dog. From doing the round so many times I now know which doors have clangers and also which clangers have dogs. For dogs that I like I purposefully clang the letterbox as hard as I can. For dogs with big teeth I either avoid the house altogether or apply my fingers on the metal with delicate caution.
3. Just why? Diagonal letterboxes grind my gears more than any other kind of letterbox. The last thing I want to be doing after trudging about for hours is judging angles, essentially doing maths. Stop this madness please.
4. I am well-known for having weak, endlessly rollable ankles. Never are they more rollable than when I reach the following house which is towards the tail of my mag-round. After an unnecessarily large collection of steps, the last thing I want to see is a SKULL beside the ‘welcome’ doormat. A juxtaposition if ever there was one. Needless to say I tread very carefully on the way back down.
I used to approach these houses full of hope. Letterboxes with baskets underneath to catch the post: what a neat idea. False. There is nothing more infuriating than when the magazine falls between the basket and the French window. Unless you get the flight of the mail absolutely right it falls agonisingly short of the target and teeth grinding ensues.
I will put my letterbox loathing on hold for now… maybe forever. My knee operation has been set for March 21 so I may just have to hang up my BS9 boots for the time being. Without the BS9 though I may not have my Sports Journalism course to look forward to. Optimism feeds optimism.