Hankering after my old job…

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Thursday 28th June 2012

Tony Blair reckons he’s better equipped to be PM now than he was during his Downing Street years. He says he’s learned “an immense amount” and would love to have another go, even though it’s unlikely to ever happen.

I was never a Blair devotee, but his words – during an interview with Evening Standard editor Sarah Sands – made me think.

In my 20s I worked as a news reporter in Fleet Street, haring around on the stories of the moment. I could be covering a grim murder trial at the Old Bailey one week (they often gave me nightmares) and sitting in a Bedouin tent in the middle of the Saudi desert with Prince Charles and Princess Diana the next. The deadlines were eye-wateringly tight, the bosses scary and the pressure intense, but life was never boring.

A quarter of a century on, I wouldn’t stand a chance in hell of being hired as a news reporter (in a profession that’s getting younger by the minute, I’m far too old).

But the ridiculous thing is that I’d actually be a far better reporter now than I was then. I’ve lived a hell of a lot more, had children, lost people I love – and understand so much more about everything (well, except for polymers, the offside rule and the ins and outs of the West Lothian question. Deadlines don’t scare me  and nor do tough news editors. When I’m working I focus 100 per cent on what I’m doing, rather than planning nights out with my pals or worrying about my love life. My children are almost grown-ups themselves so I don’t even have to fix childcare.

So, yes, like Tony Blair, I’d love to have a go at my old job. And yes, like him, I know it’s unlikely to ever happen.

PS. The picture shows a cutting from my reporting days. My writer friend Jane Gordon-Cumming found it in a pile of papers when she was moving house. We only met two years ago so she was stunned to find she had an article of mine dating back to the 1980s!

4 comments so far

  • Oh, how you have the gift of speaking my thoughts at just the right times. We moved away from London to Essex and now I find the libraries are all restructuring (aka closing all the small branch libraries) or hoping that in the future then can run on volunteers! But yes, once the children are catered for and no longer one more thing to organise in our lives, we CAN focus on the work in hand and do a bloody good job to boot! Age discrimination is still rife, no matter what employers say. And, of course, I have to face employers who will rigidly grill me on my knowledge of Equal Opportunities legislation whilst quite clearly discriminating themselves. I have watched it happen in my old job. Grrrr…

  • I’m so glad this struck a chord with you too – even though it is very aggravating. Lots of friends say they have similar experiences. And it doesn’t look as though it will change any time soon!

  • I loved this post because yesterday i was looking at colleges in Oxford with middle son…and thinking what I wouldn’t give to do this now. I am not afraid of the grind, the hours etc and would take advantage of every opportunity set in front of me…the only thing I don’t have that I did then is the mental quickness….

  • I’m sure you’ve got the mental quickness, Liz. And I so agree, you don’t appreciate the chances you have when you’re in your teens and twenties. I certainly didn’t! I hope your son enjoyed the day in Oxford!

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