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Scoop! Journalists don't really have two horns and a tail

PUBLISHED: 10:10 05 May 2014 | UPDATED: 10:44 05 May 2014

Lord Justice Leveson with the Report from the Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press.
 Photo credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Lord Justice Leveson with the Report from the Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press. Photo credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Archant

I'm used to the surveys that announce that the public have placed journalists in the top 10 list of most distrusted professionals in the UK (alongside estate agents, builders and used car salesmen) but I refuse to believe that being a reporter is one of the worst jobs in Britain: for a start, I'm a reporter and I've done worse jobs than this.

A study has revealed the 10 worst jobs in the country – they are, in order: miner, courier, builder’s labourer, journalist, sous chef, electrician, HGV driver, care assistant and housekeeper.

Really? Where is elephant vasectomist on this list? Or laboratory cadaver preparer? Or HAZMAT divers who dive in sewage and toxic waste? They’re not on the list and we are? The world has gone to hell in a handcart.

“It’s one of the most hated professions, where ‘hate pieces’, criminal behaviour and insensitive journalists heaping misery on grief have ensured that journalists have earned roughly as much respect as MPs,” says the survey.

Eh?! The last job I did involved going on a double decker bus and looking out of the window! The last ‘hate piece’ I wrote was about how I hate the smell of fish! An old lady stopped me the other day to tell me that I was making my Mum proud! Does this still mean I’m heaping misery on grief?

Journalists have always got a bad press (although not in the actual press, because we write it) for a host of reasons, not least because we’re always portrayed on television as heartless vultures with the morals of a pirate and the dress sense of an ancient circus dog kicked through Columbo.

Worse still, journalism is shown to be the kind of career you can fall into without a day’s training: Scott Robinson from Neighbours wrote a piece about his grandmother and was immediately taken on by the Erinsborough News, Ken Barlow lost his job at the Weatherfield Community Centre so became editor of his own newspaper, Clark Kent somehow managed to fall from the sky and save the world between deadlines.

Clark got away with it solely because all his exclusives were about his alter ego, meaning tracking down his interviewees involved looking in the mirror.

I’m not sure the same tactics would work on the Evening News, even if I had just travelled back to the 1700s with Waverider to prevent Vandal Savage from killing Lois Lane’s ancestors who lived in Catton. Even if I wore my pants on the outside of my trousers.

In EastEnders, reporters on the Walford Gazette will stop at nothing to get a story – they raid the newsroom dressing up box for disguises, they lie about their identity, they lurk about like trapped flatulence in a lift.

They are visual shorthand for all that is wrong in the world, the kind of people you would use as human ladders if you needed to escape a burning building.

The Leveson Inquiry did very little to reassure the public that journalists aren’t all unpleasant vultures who only take time off from trying to sell their nan’s kidneys on eBay in order to listen to other people’s answerphones.

As those who know and love (and/or are forced to put up with) me will confirm, I never even listen to my own answerphone messages – they always seem to involve having to DO something, don’t they? Best to avoid them.

I have never pretended to be Gordon Brown in order to illegally tap into his bank account and I have never paid any police officers for any information, unless you count my direct debit for council tax.

Equally, I’ve never put a criminal investigation at risk due to my probing journalism – in fact, I am rubbish at being an untrustworthy vulture and should probably consider an alternative career. Possibly as a miner, courier, builder’s labourer, sous chef, electrician, HGV driver or care assistant. Not a housekeeper. I have my limits, and a house of my own I have to keep.

*******

You wait most of the year for a bank holiday and then four come along at the same time – whoever plans these things every year is a monster.

This year, we have eight bank holidays. Four are within 38 days of each other, so while we’re laughing now, we won’t be for the rest of the year when we’ve got only one in August to tide us through until the three earmarked for Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

As Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are unspeakably boring, I don’t count them as holidays. Christmas is hard work, so that leaves only the August bank holiday (this year on the 25th, start planning now) to look forward to.

This glass-half-empty, pessimistic attitude is what makes me so much fun at parties (and on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day) but really – do we need four bank holidays in April and May? Wouldn’t it be nice to shoehorn a few in throughout the year rather than wasting them all into a five-week period?

I’d like one in February. And maybe one in June. And July. And September, October, November and March. This might mean that we need to add in a few extra bank holidays in order to fit them all in, but that’s a sacrifice I am willing to make.

To be fair, I don’t work on Mondays, so every day is effectively Bank Holiday Monday for me, with the added bonus that the shops don’t close at 4.30pm and everyone else has to go to work. But never let the facts get in the way of a really good moan, that’s what I say. And what’s wrong with the concept of Bank Holiday Thursdays, anyway? I think they could catch on.

*******

Analysis of fossilised teeth of our early ancestors shows it was the women who ventured out of the caves when they came of age while the men stayed close to home.

In research conducted in South Africa, it has been shown that many women grew up in different areas from where they died, while the men appeared to stay in their tribes.

“From an evolutionary perspective, it’s likely they left their clan as they reached maturity in order to mate while avoiding interbreeding,” it was claimed.

“But whether they were taken by marauding courters or simply felt the call of nature and ventured into the wild in search of a new gene pool will likely never be known.”

I like the idea of venturing into the wild in search of new gene pools, it’s a bit like when I went up north to go to university (not that I found a suitable gene pool up there, or even a passable swimming pool).

I think, on the whole, I’d prefer to believe that the cavewomen got hacked off with cavemen refusing to put the toilet seat down, the endless crotch-scratching and adjusting of fur loin cloths in public, the ‘late nights hunting and gathering’ that turned out to be fermented-berry sessions with the lads and decided to do a Wilma and Betty (later remade into ‘Thelma and Louise’) and take a one-way road trip out of Bedrock.

The alternative was that the women were kidnapped or bartered off like livestock, which is far less savoury than thinking about them hanging around in bars pretending to be single.

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