So I spent three days writing a page/column thing. Here’s what I learned/ remembered from this and the last time I did it.
1. People are idiots
2. If they see a picture of your massive face in the paper, they will call you and act like they know you. Which is very frightening and confusing.
3. People will send horrifically gross racist stuff and for some reason, think you will either publish it or appreciate it.
4. People will send you hate mail, telling you that you are shit and should be sacked.
5. People will call you just to tell you what they think about something. That something will have no news value whatsoever and really is a complete waste of your time but you will have to be nice and hope you can get them the fuck off the phone before you die of frustration.
6. The real cray-crays will call, seem reasonably normal with a semi-reasonable story and when you’ve hung up and spent half an hour trying to research the tip they’ve given you, you realise they’re full of shit.
7. Sometimes people like what you’ve written. They might call (like the man today who almost gave himself a heart attack laughing about my column and then went on to give me a phrase of his ‘he always uses when talking to people’ and gave me his blessing to use it the next day. It was rubbish) or like the almost indecipherable handwritten, faxed (who has a fucking fax these days?) letter that praised me in a very non-specific manner then went on to ramble something incoherent about the Government. God, at least someone could have written something nice about the unforeseeable amount of slight cleavage on my giant headshot. Jesus.
8. People do not realise that “I once did a thing and here is what happened” is actually newsworthy. I’m talking to YOU, lady who was unable to buy some things she needed from the supermarket. And also YOU, man, whose list of dot-points 1-5 on times he hired a tradesman and told the tradesman he was wrong and then the tradesman reallised he was actually right.
9. You will have to lie to people. Only because 99% of them are nice and well meaning yet deluded and irritating. You do not wish to be rude to them or disappoint them. Therefore you must lie about not having much space or that you’ll ‘look into’ whatever tiresome irrelevant matter they’ve brought up. But it is for the greater good.
10. People beg you, BEG you to put in a story about their lost/stolen pet. Emails that end “please, please, please (my name)” with a massive sob story and you feel like a massive bitch because you have a pet and you have to tell them: No, not ever. We get enough of these requests as it is. This is not a lost and found page. I am sorry for your loss but if I print a snippet on your story, can you see where this will lead? Even when I edited a community paper where no news is too unimportant to report I refused to do 60th wedding anniversaries and 100th birthdays. Because they are not as unique and interesting as people think. There are literally millions of them and no one, no one at all likes reading them apart from the six members of your family. So pay for it and take out an advert, sunshine.