08 September, 2010

Carry On And Keep Calm

I used to live and work in London but was never really phased by travel disruptions as I could cycle (or, in fact, walk) to work so if there was a strike I just hopped on my bike. Unfortunately where I'm staying during my placement is a leeetle far from Television Centre, where I'm based at the moment, so I had a slightly lengthy but not too stressful journey to work on Tuesday. I thought it was one of those ironic co-incidences that the strike was on the anniversary of the start of the Blitz.

People were remarkably cool and collected and only a few rude words were heard. My journey home wasn't as easy (although we were going to a friend's house for dinner, the hardest part of it was the bit I would have had to do anyway), and I can see if you don't like London you might find it overwhelming.

Though it's not directly relevant to my placement, I do like London and I'm enjoying working here again - in fact, the two most irritating things about working here are specifically about TVC. One is that it is incredibly easy to get lost here - despite following signs for the Restaurant Building the other day, it took me 10 minutes and a couple of useless changes of floor to get there - it's probably 2 minutes' walk away. The other is the celebrities. How dare they get in the way of our work.

I'd been working on a Health story and wanted to ring up a private clinic to cheekily ask their prices. But outside my office window was, in full flow, the launch of Strictly Come Dancing. Lots of Good Life fans, it seems, as the applause for Felicity Kendal was probably the loudest.

Anyway, although officially I'm on Science and Nature, I think my interests lie a bit closer to Health and I've had one story on how the brain reads Arabic which got a lot of interest over the weekend - and a couple of pretty negative emails! Some were easy to answer but I was told just to ignore one of them... This was a story where I spotted the press release, and checked who else had done it - turns out it was no-one in the UK - before writing the story. It was great then to see that actually I had been right and people did find it interesting.

I had another couple of science stories out last week - and another one this week with some great dinosaur pictures. The hard part about writing that one was struggling to understand the Spanish scientist's English. I don't speak Spanish well enough to talk to someone about their research in Spanish, but at least I had a small clue about some of the things he might be groping for or how a word might be mispronounced.

One of the other Media Fellows told us the other day that she finds one of the hardest things about doing this is talking to people on the phone. I am not particularly phone phobic, but I have in the past tried really hard to make phone calls only in quiet circumstances. I just can't get away with that here. Both here at News Online and at the Science Radio unit the office is highly open plan - our "area" is smaller here but I don't even have a cubicle. I'm getting better at ringing people on the off chance, without having written down every single thing I want to say, and also at not getting a little nervous and forgetting important questions.

Writing this blog, which is one of those things I've been doing in my off moments, waiting for someone to ring me back, waiting for a meeting etc., is a total stream-of-consciousness job. Write, and press "publish" or "save" depending on whether I've run out of things to say or am getting bored or someone calls me. I tend to write my stories quite quickly too but go back and look at them again (you'll be pleased to hear!) but never really do for the blog.

So I was intrigued to see a slightly gimmicky website called "I Write Like". Apparently this blog is like Dan Brown. Urgh! At least my dinosaur story turned out to be like HP Lovecraft. I think that's better!

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