The reaction to admitting to being a trainee journalist is two-fold. Being a “journalist” is equal to saying; “Jimmy Savile wasn’t that bad,” and being a “trainee” is like conceding you enjoy selling drugs to happy 4 year olds in a playground.
I can feel the tension build at drinks parties; “Who do you work for?” the suede-coated men say, hoping I’ll reply; “The Sun,” so they can quiz me about how appropriate it is to combine women’s wobbly bits with the news. When I say; “no one,” I feel the “t” for “trainee” stick to my teeth. My mouth has been cemented into a Wallace-esque grimace as I try to stop the word coming out; I flush with indignation inside; for many “trainee” means unemployed, my internal monologue screams; “I am a human, I have a brain, I will work for The Sun one day so I can answer your pointless probing questions.” Instead I just say it; “I’m a trainee journalist.” The suede men relax; their unfathomably large eyebrows flecked with white and grey settle on a forehead big enough to sink the Titanic. “It’s one of them,” they smile, a “trainee,” a government-snorter, a print-licker.
They start to ask me where I study. “Yes”, I think to myself, “this one will throw them out the water – bloody City University, suck on that.” “Oh City, like the CASS business school, good for business that place isn’t it.” My heart sinks like a lead-lined coffin. My triumphant name drop has backfired. I knew I shouldn’t have admitted to being a trainee, or a journalist; note to self, always say “gynaecologist” – it’s impressive and threatening in equal measure; I’m a scientist; impressive – I know how my nether-regions work better than you – threatening…especially to a man in brushed leather.
In fact, saying “trainee” has become my biggest fear. That and weeing into a bleach-lined toilet – the imminent burning splash back is enough to rocket me into a full-blown panic attack. And I question why I’m so scared of being undervalued; who cares what a goat-wearing red wine-lipped academic thinks about me. I suppose it’s because our generation of journalists are desperately trying to be responsible; not like the Andy Coulsons of this world (and I can say that because he has been charged, I can’t say anything about curly haired red heads with egos big enough to jolt Saddam Hussein into a state of coronary flux). I’m talking about Cilla Black, duh. But, there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m proud to be a trainee journalist, because I genuinely believe our generation will play a fair game and not News-of-the-world it up.
I never liked suede anyway.