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Archive for May, 2021

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First dose

I have now had my first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. And more importantly, I am about three months closer to getting a haircut.

I had my appointment in Cirencester, where I once worked as a newspaper reporter. The jab centre was near where I used to park every day. Unfortunately, all the spaces were taken. I pulled into a public car park, parked up, then looked in my wallet to find that the only coins I had were New Zealand Dollars. It nicely sums up how long it’s been since I used any cash.

I turned around and went back the way I came, in the hope that there would now be a space. And there it was. I headed to the jab centre, looking a lot different to when I left the paper almost exactly 12 years ago. I am now about 10kg heavier, with long hair and a beard, as well as also wearing medical gloves and a face mask to complete the physical transformation.

I knew my old reporter patch so well that I had to ask someone for directions on where exactly I had to go to get my jab.

The whole vaccine process was really well run and all credit goes to the NHS and local services. The nurse I spoke to was working a 12-hour shift. I hope they all get a massive pay rise for everything they’ve done.

I am now part of Team Pfizer. In terms of side-effects of the jab, I haven’t felt many. My jabbed arm was a little sort the next day and it hurt when I listed it above my head. But I’m not sure if the feelings of tiredness and sinus pains are the effects of the jab, or just that I’ve not been sleeping that well lately and have hayfever. In any case, I don’t feel anything out of the ordinary.

I am now a step closer to immunity, a step closer to some sense of normality, and a step closer to finally getting a haircut.

What I don’t know is when my microchip will start operating. I also don’t know whether it’ll be Bill or Melinda Gates who will have custody of me after their divorce settlement.

In comedy news, I now have my second How To Win A Pub Quiz show booked for this year. In October, I will be returning to Swansea. More details will probably be tweeted soon.

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Booked in

I have my first dose of the Covid vaccine booked this week. It sums up the strange Covid times in which we live that getting an injection is considered to be exciting.

And it also sums up how little is actually happening in my life at the moment that I feel the need to write about something that isn’t particularly interesting and also hasn’t even happened yet. But as I describe this, my word count increases slowly but surely so I can reach the magic 250-word mark.

This is the minimum word count anything I write on here has to be. This entire site started after a mate from school noticed my challenge on Tumblr of writing 250 words every day for a year and offered to host it for me.

The reason I chose 250 words in 2010 is because it was the shortest acceptable length of a page lead news story in my reporter days.

And that ties nicely into my vaccine appointment. Because it turns out that I’m getting it done in Cirencester, which is the very same town I used to work as a reporter. In fact, the centre where I’m getting the jab is mere metres from where I used to park my car almost every day when I would often have to rush to get into the office to be on time.

The difference this time will be that if I am a few minutes late for the appointment, I am unlikely to be shouted at by the person in charge.

Tune in next week to find out what the jab was like. If excitement like that doesn’t result in a spike in traffic, nothing will. 287 words. Still got it.

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A sort of plan

I may have a plan, or at least something that is starting to resemble a plan.

Following on from last week when I was toying with the idea of sticking around back home for another year, I have developed this further.

Over the next year, I have decided that I will finally get around to writing all the things that have been in my head for months or years. And by this, I don’t mean angry letters to the local newspaper or complaints to companies I don’t like. Plus, Burton has now closed all its stores.

Anyway, what I mean is that I will get around to writing all ideas I have for scripts and other stories that I’ve either not finished writing or even started.

In Lockdown 1, I finally finished a Doctor Who script that had been in my head since 2007. I’ve since even found old drawings I did back then of what the monsters will look like. I still have no idea where to send the script, but that’s not the most important thing with this. The most important thing was finishing it in the first place.

I don’t know if anything will come of any of these ideas. But I can guarantee that nothing will happen if I don’t do anything with them.

I realised that I may not have this much freedom and time again to write all these projects before I get back into the world of work. In the first lockdown, I didn’t know exactly how long it would last. And I still don’t, but I now at least have an idea of what I’m going to do with the time.

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Some progress

I returned to the script for my musical project yesterday for the first time in several weeks. I’d become stuck. I knew where I wanted to get to; I just wasn’t quite sure how to get there.

As with most writing challenges, they often start to become easier when you actually sit down and try to do something about it. I’ve now made much more progress than I have in a few months. But when the progress in those few months was nothing, it doesn’t set a high bar. Still, it’s good to have done something with it.

The original plan was to take the show to Edinburgh Fringe this year. Then a certain straw-headed twat cocked everything up for a second and third time, then the pandemic soared out of control. Not only did this pretty much end my plans for performing the run of shows in August 2021, but it also meant I couldn’t go to Rich’s house for more musical collaborations.

Admittedly, in the grander scheme of things in the pandemic, I’ve gotten off pretty lightly if it’s only caused me inconvenience and irritation.

The plan is to now take the show up to Edinburgh in 2022. Everything
should have gotten back to somewhere close to normal by then.

And I’ll be going around Rich’s house again for another studio session. As Rich now only lives about ten minutes drive up the road, I’m now wondering if it’s best to make sure I get the project written and polished before I move back to London. And that now might not be for at least another year.

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Freelancing

It has been said that if you’re a freelance journalist then you’re either worrying that you don’t have enough work, or you’re worrying that you have taken on too much.

I can say that this summary is definitely accurate. Freelance journalism has now been my main source of income for more than a year. And fortunately, I’m getting just enough to get by. When I got back from New Zealand, I thought the work would dry up and was fully prepared for my third stint at a supermarket.

Despite spending years wishing I could do comedy full-time, the pandemic has made me grateful that I do have a backup. I’ve been working as a journalist in some capacity – written or editing – for more than 13 years, but there are times when I still question if I know what I’m doing and ask myself: “Hang on, is this actually any good?”

However, the commissions keep coming – albeit mostly from people I’ve worked with in previous companies. Although I have recently also been commissioned to write something for someone I don’t know and have been offered other work since. So it would appear that I do know what I’m doing. And it must be good – or at least passable.

Freelancing is far from a secure income and I’m earning much less than when I was working full-time. But I’m enjoying the variety and the flexibility. It’s not enough income to allow me to move back to London, but it’ll do until things start to get back to something resembling normality. And freelancing is certainly a more stable income than comedy.

Plus, freelancing means I can continue to take my dog for long walks every day without anyone wondering why I’m taking so long to respond to emails and start suspecting I may not be at my desk. I couldn’t possibly say if I also used to do this when I did have a full-time job and was working from home. And no one can prove otherwise.