Notes from the Inside

March 17, 2010


Hello, blogosphere. Sincerest apologies for being entirely useless in 2010. The reason for it is simple enough; remember I told you that I had resolved to take up reading fiction again? Well, it transpires that the habit is easy to get back into, and I have been sucked, wholly and happily, back into the bookworm ways of my childhood.

Now a qualified journalist, however, I have not been allowed to give up on the internship circuit. Last month I cut my teeth as a sub-editor (read: spell-checker and hole-puncher) at a rather lovely literary monthly, and I am cominatcha right now from the offices of The Other Sunday Paper.

It’s rather nice here. Overwhelmingly female and well-dressed, friendly and welcoming – although thus far, rather slow.

My first job was to get inky fingers cataloguing papers from the past six months. Then I got to read through the letters to the editor…

What a bizarre box of tricks they are. Not one of them is in response to anything printed in the last edition of the paper; one is a comparison of modernisations under Labour to The Long March through the Industries in China, one a condemnation of calls for the Catholic church to recognise same-sex marriages. A couple were very affecting letters from people with mental disabilities, and the very very lonely. A young hopeful like myself sent in a feature on the off-chance that it get picked up. Word of friendly advice on this: if you try that tack, please PLEASE don’t write about the weather…

And then there was a letter about the unions. I like unions, in principal at least, and I’m interested in any available information about who’s in them and what the membership really think of the structures – whether it is just a representative body to cover your back, or whether it is (as it should be) a body for self-representation, and fighting pro-actively for better conditions. Union leaders though are not always angels, and do not always have the best interest of their membership at heart. Person X shares my view on union bureaucrats – although for rather different reasons.

Person X is a British Jobs for British Workers kind of a character, who holds the opinion that union bureaucrats are selling out their membership by fighting the battles of migrant workers and allowing them to unionise. Person X feels that Brits should leave their unions, and re-form into a parallel union structure, refusing to share workplaces with the takinig-our-jobs migrants.

So far so racist, but not an unheard of position; let’s get to the good bit. Person X also feels that David Cameron should take a substantially stronger line on immigration and the EU (possibly even propose leaving it, certainly not get any closer). Person X goes on to propose that Cameron should reach out to the (new) unions, making it clear that his line on immigration is a direct attempt to represent the will of, and to protect, the working people of Britain.

Sorry, what? This is insane. I have seldom come across a political position so totally out of touch with… any kind of reality.  Person X is entirely sincere, as far as I have been able to ascertain, in the belief that the next government should listen to the will of the working class, organised through democratic, rank-and-file trade unions. Good; there’s the Old Labour line. Next though Person X is equally sincere in their Euro-phobia and xenophobia generally, sharing a line with UKIP. Thirdly, Person X has no doubt that David Cameron’s conservative party is the only organisation that can lead us forward to this racially pure, worker-lead future.

It is at this stage in the reasoning that my mind unravels, and I find that I am very glad indeed to open a letter from somebody’s grandad who is very, very upset about the idea that the House of Lords might be on its last legs.

So ends my initiation to the world of the news room nutcase.


  1. Made binding holes in BOTH sides of a manustcript by accident, and spent ten minutes trimming the edges.
  2. Worn gloves in the office for an entire week, following an allergic reaction at The Literary Monthly.
  3. Phoned an art gallery to turn down a private view invitaton, because the editor was meeting with a Prominent Scotsman…


Baking cookies. Applying applying applying for jobs. Drinking beer with Repertoire. Listening to Repertoire’s jokes, repeating them far and wide. Reading Terry Pratchett (yes, I know I’m supposed to be a grown-up). Reading Patti Smith’s new book (see? Redeemed). Listening to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to the exclusion of everything else.


3 Responses to “Notes from the Inside”

  1. Ben Says:

    Far from being incoherent, it sounds like the letter writer was advocating for a form of corporatism, as per Mussolini’s Italy. Which was also popular with Oswald Mosley. So it’s pretty disturbing, but logical on its own terms.

  2. EddM Says:

    You’re reading the book! Yessss.

    Tory unions? It’s happened before:

  3. Pete Says:

    i thought semi colons were transvestite hermaphrodites, you know…useless. Thats what Vonnegut said anyway…

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