Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Auntie Em Joins the Fourth Estate - part four

Wednesday, 9a.m., Amano Cafe, London Bridge

David and I check the paper over breakfast in a cafe. It's there, my first piece in print. It's a nice feeling, seeing it in black and pink. I let Nigel at the BA know that the last of his media fellows for this year has finally got her wings.

Wednesday, FT Headquarters

I finish the Friday briefing, having chosen, with Clive's guidance, three stories that I think go well together: one serious and worthy, one serious and "wow"-y and one fluffy (or feathery) animal story. I decide to leave it until tomorrow to submit just in case something even more interesting comes up.

Clive submits my long piece for the upcoming special supplement - it was the first piece I started writing, way back on Monday. It seems a lifetime ago now. The piece goes off before I can tinker any more.

I see a piece on the wires that looks very FT. It's international, so would have to be pitched to the world editor. And it's coming out on Monday, which means it will be jostling for space with pieces from the BA Festival. I decide to do 350 words on spec and see how it goes.

In the afternoon, Clive introduces me to Jan Dalley, the arts editor. He leaves me to pitch an arts piece that I really want to write. I have prepared well for this, but I'm surprised at the conviction with which I speak - anyone would think I knew what I was doing. Jan agrees to the piece and finds me some potential space in a Saturday edition coming up. I allow myself a discrete fist pump on the stairs and hope that no-one saw my Tim Henman impression.

The afternoon is spent finishing a piece on some lovely research that has reconstructed the sound of an epigonion, an ancient Greek instrument, lost since antiquity. I listen to the recordings of it playing Dufay and Monteverdi while I write the piece. It's an amazing feeling, hearing something very few people alive have yet to hear.

I file the epigonion piece, tinker some more with Friday's briefing and leave at a very civilised time.

Thursday, 9.30 am, Bakerloo line. En route to the BA Festival Press Launch

I set out in very good time, having seen that my epigonion piece has made it online at least. Things go downhill from there. The homing pigeon takes over and I leave the Bakerloo line two stops early, as if I were going to my real job. I have to wait five minutes for another Bakerloo line. When I get to South Kensington station I find that the same homing pigeon instinct has deserted me. I now can't find the Dana centre. I realise I'm at the wrong end of the wrong street when I reach the V&A. When I arrive Sir David King, the president of the BA, has already begun his briefing. A bad start.

The press conference is very interesting but I find myself wanting to ask research related questions rather than interesting news questions. It's hard to switch off that way of thinking. We pick up A4 sheets describing all the events for the coming week. They fill a carrier bag.

A taxi-ride later

Back at the office, Clive helps me sell my on-spec piece to the world editor who is working Sunday for Monday. I have an extra 100 words to play with. We also discuss the pieces that will be written for the UK pages from the festival press conferences today. I'm given 400 words, and a specific angle that's of interest to the FT readership, for that.

I file Friday's briefing, nothing will come up that I could add in time now. I finish my extra 100 words for the world story and start jotting the outline for my 400 words. It's time for lunch.

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