Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Voluntary journalism on the Isle of Wight…

I've been staying with my parents on the Isle of Wight for the past week or so, building up my multimedia skills while applying for jobs. I've produced some charmingly local podcasts for Ventnor Blog, an extraordinary Isle of Wight news website.

Husband and wife team Sal and Simon have dedicated their lives to asking questions. In the time I spent in the office, they were working non-stop, on the phone to readers and councillors, moderating comments, plugged into Isle of Wight radio. I don't know how they sustain these ten-hour-a-day marathons with so little advertising, but they are a lot of fun to work with and had plenty to tell me about multimedia and interactive coverage.

"We're covering the Town Council elections today," said Sal. "We like to treat it like a national event, just to keep ourselves amused."

Outside the polling station with the rooks for company, I had a pleasant time discovering that people in Ventnor really care about roads,and got brief interviews with the voters and candidates.

On Saturday, my boyfriend and I went to a new Isle of Wight club night called Radieux. Read my review here! Island musicians The Shutes proved a thrilling discovery:

I secured an interview with Radieux's organisers Michael Champion (Shutes' frontman) and his mate Michael Yates. Champion invited me round for a cup of tea in a neighbouring village. His place was retro. I noted the vintage typewriter plonked on the coffee table.
"Yeah it's a beauty isn't it?" he said. "It doesn't work yet. I want to fix it up."

Mike's heavy cold made podcasting a bad idea, so I interviewed for a written piece about the pair's ambitions. This led onto sources of inspiration, feelings about the island, and musicians' enduring love affair with the 1960s. That night i wrote the piece up with the cat meowing at me and the wind howling outside. It won't be published until tomorrow though…

I seem to be doing my best work after darkness at the moment! Last night I went to a council meeting for Ventnor Blog. Lots of dusty voices discussing the same subject for four hours in fraught tones, then raising their hands along pre-ordained lines. I wrote about it until 3am.

There's a point at which energy becomes relentless… It had been a busy day and all. A creative friend and I decided to go to the beach in the pouring rain. I'd made the suggestion when it was sunny.

"No,we should go!" he insisted, as the heavens opened.
"You should wear wellies."
"No. No."
"Are you going to regret this?"
"Of course not!"
He didn't:


It seems the sea was lovely, and it wasn't muddy at all…


Actually, we slid through deep mud for at least a mile and I almost got stuck a couple of times. It was an adventure to exit mundanity and find ourselves at THE ENDS OF THE EARTH. The waves were immense… much taller than me. The kind of ferocity that can't be contained in a photograph.

This post has proved quite bitty and complicated - but I have one more piece of news. I'm off to London tomorrow for a weekend including an investigative reporting workshop with Nick Davies and David Leigh, which I'm quite excited about.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The wisdom of the soiree…

Good grief - what a disturbing picture is emerging from a recent survey of attitudes to rape victims. Women had better not have a trusting attitude in our society, no no no. We should stick to our sorry corners, shooting suspicious glances in all directions.

Yep. The world is looking a bit more frightening in general. My peaceful law-abiding sister was threatened with bailiffs this week.

“I have unwittingly incurred the Victorian Wrath of the Council,” she said. “I was not eligible to pay [tax]. I have informed them of this. An email from them suggested that was that, but now I've got a letter from them saying they'll be sending the bailiffs round next week to 'remove my goods and chattels' (my chattels? Am I a medieval wench?) unless I pay the money straightaway.”

Hmm. If logic doesn't prevail I suppose I could chain myself to her door in protest.

On Saturday, my boyfriend and I went to see a play called Money, which was terribly trendy and cutting edge. I was blown away by the warehouse setting and artistic touches (such as policemen in riot gear, handing out balloons!).

I was disappointed, however, by the lack of story. I could sense a theme, and wowee, the action took place above us and below us, all over the place! We could get involved, too, which was fun, throwing bouncy balls around.

"Thankyou for your money!" they said.

Fair enough, but while you were fannying about with cigars and perambulators, or whatever it is you avant-gardeians do, I thought you were going to tell me something?

"Bah!" we said, running off into the darkness. "Pseudo-surrealists!" That was that. The lack of any real message was enough to make me wish we'd seen this play instead.

Headed straight from there to a house party which was a bit more enlightening. Somebody talked to me about the concept of entropy (loosely, chaos) and how it relates to India at the moment.

It proved quite complicated.

On a less cogent note, I overheard this drunken heart-to-heart between two revellers:

“I think you’re actually quite shatteringly normal," she philosophised. "What do you dream about?”

“Well," he ventured. "I had a dream about ducks the other day.”

She sighed. “I don’t know anything about ducks. I’m a vegetarian.”


Perhaps she has taken it to a new level, and erased animals from her consciousness.

So I walked from Saturday to Sunday laughing about that. Sunday was Valentines Day wasn't it? What fun. My boyfriend took me to see the least appropriate film imaginable. Lots of blood and beatings! It proved a highly visceral experience.

I also visited a friend of mine in Cambridge yesterday. We went to the Zoology Museum and giggled at the grinning skeletal creatures. It was quite inspiring, artistically I mean. I scrawled some comics on the train and hope to post them here, when they’re rendered more competently in pen.

I didn't realise until I wrote this that a lot has happened in the past few days… Life has seemed relatively sedate after the intensity of the journalism course, which is now over. I've got 100wpm shorthand and everything, hooray.

So what's next? There's work experience pending on the Isle of Wight, but I am quite urgently looking for a source of income. In between applications, I have discovered Axe Cop, straight from the mind of a five year old genius.

I’ve also set up a flickr account for my prettier photos. :)