When I meet someone new and tell them what I do for a living they are generally reasonably interested. Being a journalist does, in theory, sound slightly more exciting than being an accountant (sorry Ben) and engineer (sorry Kym, Pete et al.) or “in IT” (sorry Andy).
What these people do not know is that being a journalist is, at times, a humiliating, frustrating and demeaning experience. Mostly this is because people are mental and, although in real life we tend to avoid these people, in journalism you frequently wind up having to interview them.
This morning, for instance, I interviewed a woman who was insane. Sweet and well-intentioned but possibly actually clinically insane. I had to interview her because she was making an artwork for a particular cause. A good cause as it happened. It seemed like a straightforward story that I would be able to start and finish before my cup of tea went cold.
It was not and it did not. Instead it went something like this…
I would ask her a (pretty straightforward) question and she would respond with a completely random and unrelated statement. Halfway through her “answer” she would either a) trail off into silence or b) switch to the second half of an utterly different response. For example:
Me: How long does it take you to do one of these (art projects)?
Her: Well I mean for me it’s all about the pioneers.
Me: The... pioneers?
Her: Well yes I mean it’s all about women. Pioneers. Take my grandmother, Elsie…
Punctuating this “exchange” was a serious of fruity coughs, sniffs and narrated highlights from the past 50 years of her life. The cost? Half an hour and possibly my sanity. The reward? A shiteful story that will go in the back of the paper and be read by exactly nobody. Anyone want to go back to uni with me?