Internships: just for the young?

spiral bound notebook

Internships are wasted on the young.

Or maybe they’re not. Maybe it’s just that mine was wasted on me.

How I look back now and wish I’d taken more advantage of the opportunity. I was 21. I applied on a whim, scrabbling together a last minute CV, and was stunned to be invited to an interview. That meant a day away from my full-time but unpaid summer job as an arts reviewer at the Edinburgh Festival. I took the 5am train down to London, the 4pm train back, arriving in Scotland just in time for my publication’s launch party.

In between train journeys I spent several hours in the offices of a national newspaper, along with a dozen other wannabe hacks. First we were just observed as we sat and chatted, not realising it was part of the screening. Next we were given a marker pen and a copy of the paper to scrawl on. ‘Tell us what you’d do differently,’ they said. I circled the headlines. ‘Too small to be effective signposts on the page,’ I wrote. Finally we were paired up and had to interview each other – ten minutes to talk, then twenty minutes to turn it into a publishable piece. That bit was easy. Everyone loves to talk about themselves. Everyone has a story.

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Guest Post: The Sound of Shame

I am chuffed to pieces to have a guest post today from The Shoogly Peg, whose excellent blog can be found here and whose tweets can be found here

There is a noise that I remember from school. It was the noise that a class collectively made when someone had done something stupid. It began with a sharp in-breath, which became an even sharper, three-syllable exhalation. It sounded like this: “AH-HAH-HAH!”

The emphasis was on the first “HAH”, with the phrase descending subtly from the high note of the “AH” through a middle tone and finally to the low concluding “HAH!”.
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Live In The Now: June

Wow. I’m amazed that it has been a whole month since I put up my first Live In The Now post. For those that missed my May ramblings, the premise is that you try and take a monthly snapshot of your life, and capture some of the details that you don’t take the time to record in photograph albums or baby books. It’s something that the excellent Scribbling Mum started, and if you haven’t checked her blog out I’d urge you to do so.

Anyway, it has been one of those weeks. DorkyDad is travelling, and within five minutes of him getting in a taxi to the airport I’d managed to drop a two-litre carton of milk on the kitchen floor. DorkySon was supposed to be getting a haircut – something that has previously been no problem – but on this occasion he had a meltdown and refused to let anyone near him. In the queue at the bank, DorkySon stuck his fingers so far down his own throat that he threw up all over himself. And today we walked past a toy shop without going in and buying a new truck and so I was rewarded with twenty minutes of screaming around the supermarket, before DorkySon slammed his legs against the checkout counter with such strength that he flipped his pushchair right over and ended up staring at the ceiling. The shock of that, finally, made him shush.

Phew. I feel like the gin and tonic I am sitting sipping has been well earned.

As always, though, there have been many funny, loving and colourful moments to compensate for the tantrums. We hosted a birthday party for a good friend, N, and let DorkySon choose his present… so N ended up with a toy car for his 30th (not just any toy car, but a pink Lotus…). On a similar note, we decided to let DorkySon choose his own new shoes, and as soon as the sales assistant brought out a blue pair, a brown pair, and a red pair, we knew we’d be taking home the red ones. He is proud of himself for plucking up the courage to go down the slide on his belly, but he is still talking about how much the siren on a police van scared him. He has a hissy fit if I start to unload the dishwasher or unpack the shopping without asking him to help me, but can I persuade him to tidy up his trucks…? He is downright resistant to using his potty, but would happily stand all day putting pieces of loo roll down the toilet and flushing them away. He knows what he likes, and knows what he doesn’t. I have never met anyone as comfortable in his own skin as DorkySon.

Scribbling Mum mentioned that one of her little ones is picking up a lot of family phrases that are making everyone laugh, and on a similar theme I dedicated a whole post to DorkySon’s language explosion, which is ongoing. He too is parroting back phrases that we use a lot without even realising: “Okay, let’s go!” “Good job, DorkySon!” “Goodbye – see you later!”

Following a second, successful, attempt at a haircut, he has picked up the phrase “make me feel better”… He got some hair in his mouth, so I gave him a sip of juice, saying it would “make him feel better”. Then he spotted some crisps in my handbag, and said “crisps make me feel better too”. Now he has added the phrase to his repertoire of bedtime time-wasting activities. It used to be the case that I needed to tuck his toes in, or give him a sip of water, now he says, “DorkySon doesn’t sleep. Chocolate milk, ice cream, crisps all make him feel better.” He is getting far too clever for his own good.

This month has also seen DorkySon using the word ‘love’ for the first time. He has ‘I love DorkyDad, DorkyMum and DorkyGranny’ all down perfectly. When I go in every morning he tells me that Binky has a hole in him ‘because I’ve loved him so much.” Ahh, Binky – he deserves an entire post to himself sometime – but he is the DorkyFamily equivalent of Scribbling Mum’s Stinky Rabbit. Unfortunately he has also taken to wandering around the house shouting ‘I love butt” and “I love poop”. I figure that like most other unappealing habits, that one is best ignored.

In other areas of life, we have had an exciting time. I had my first feature published in the Guardian (whoop! I will never get tired of saying that!). As a result of that, we had a few days fending off calls and emails from the tabloid press, who wanted to re-run it, but we said no. I am so very, very tempted to write an article myself though, detailing my life as seen by the redtops. DorkyDad went to Paris to compete in the Slam Poetry World Cup. And now we are gearing up for the Edinburgh Festival; I’m going to be writing about it and DorkyDad is going to be performing in it.

I have learnt so much about blogging in the one month I’ve been doing it – not least how many other people are doing it. I am deeply grateful for the two guest blog opportunities I’ve had over at The Blog Up North and Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy. I’m also grateful for the people who have taken the time to read and comment on my own blog. I am starting to understand that there is a real community out there, and no matter what kind of week I’ve had, there will be other parents out there who have been through something similar and will lend an ear or make a kind comment.

So, if anyone has any tips about how to avoid supermarket tantrums and bank queue pukes, I’d be very grateful. But not a word about DorkySon’s red shoes – they are perfect for him, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Bye Bye Beatbloggers?

I was hugely disappointed to see the news yesterday that the Guardian Edinburgh blog is coming to an end. The two beatbloggers, Tom Allan and Michael Macleod had done a great job with the blog, and for many people in Edinburgh it had become their main source of local news.

Judging by the online comments section following the announcement, readers of Guardian Cardiff and Guardian Leeds feel the same way.

In Edinburgh, the blog covered local politics in an entirely non-partisan way, and went into the detail of decisions made at Council level in a way that no national newspaper ever could or would. For the first time in the ten years that I’ve lived in the city, local politics felt accessible and relevant

Beyond that, the blog led to much better arts coverage in the city, gave local campaigners a voice and a platform to reach wider audiences, and even gave local photographers the chance to showcase their work through the regularly updated Flickr slideshows.

In short, the Guardian Edinburgh blog felt like news as it should be – relevant to local people, regularly updated, and diverse in its coverage. I was hopeful that at the end of the blog ‘experiment,’ as the Guardian are now calling it, the local sites would be expanded to include other cities. Instead it looks like financial decisions have come before editorial ones, and that is a real shame.

A Twitter campaign has already been started to try and save Guardian Cardiff, and a crowd funding proposal has been put forward in Leeds. It would be great to see a similar campaign of support in Edinburgh, as the ultimate illustration of how successful the three blogs have become at engaging their local communities.

Edited to add that the first Guardian Edinburgh beatblogger Tom Allan has put forward his thoughts.