Friday, September 30, 2005

Week One Done

Just to say that I have just fininished a 7 hour session on video editing which was quite good and has ended what has been a very positive day for me.

Feeling a bit down last night, I went to the University of Sheffield singers Society, a non-audition Chorus. Despite innitial nerves and the dread of doing Walton's Belshazzar's Feast again (it was my first, rather disastrous experience of the University of Warwick Chorus), I had a really good time.

The singing was lead by a guy called Pete who was really engaging and talented. The committee were friendly and the drink afterwards in the bar was highly appreciated!! It waqs amateur choral singing at its best and managed to combine fun with some more detailed work. I laughed a lot and am really looking forwrd to next week. Sadly, though I may only make the drink afterwards as there is the post-graduate welcome drinks for the Journalism school. Free alcohol, so can't be sniffed at!!

Today we had video-editing and it was with this really nice tutor and I enjoyed it so much more than the audio-editing. He made me feel OK that I was not perfect and pointed out that we had very little knowledge six hours earlier. Have to admit, though, that the pace of the course is great. In the last two days we have produced an audio and video report. The introductory sessions of Monday seem an age ago and I currently feel really happy.

This weekend don't have a huge amount planned though revising law will be involved and I may consider applying for a job or six.

That ends week one of teaching with its highs and lows. A beer, I think is called for!!

Have a good one, whatever you are doing,

Thursday, September 29, 2005

'It's just another Manic Thursday ... '

So, a bit of a pain of day. Not only has the Conservative Party decided to formerly start its selection process for their future leader but my day has been rather suspect and it is only 1511.

This morning I woke to the sounds of the Today Programme presenters trying very hard to be interested in their latest interviews with two potential Tory party leaders. This has been an ongoing saga for the party for the last four months and looks no nearer its conclusion than it did back in May. This has to be harmful to the election prospects of the party. If the party cannot convince itself of its future then how is it going to convince the great British electorate taht it can govern. Therefore, my ears were far from overjoyed this morning. Not that James Naughertie was that thrilled to be there and was decidedly grumpy with them which suited my mood!! Having said that, it was a good way to start what had been a rather odd 24 hours for me.

Last night I popped off to the University Concert Band. Picked Tim up on the way there as it was VERY wet and his instrument weighs a huge amount. Once we had got it in the car, it rapidly became clear that reverse and first gear are out of the question when a tuba is a passanger in the front seat. Which makes life rather tricky when having to turn around as you are lost trying to find a hall ... Tim was most sympathetic of my poor navigation skills and we eventually arrived some twenty minutes late!

But, my crumbs, what did we walk into. A small band (no percussion and a mere 9 flutes) of very mixed quality. As Tim put it, it is rare for him (yet alone me) to be amongst the best players. It was when I had to explain to the conductor that she could not conduct 6/8 and 3/4 in the same way. Furthermore all three conductors were not great on working on details - to such an extent that I grimmaced when they did not re-do a chunk claiming it was 'fine'. So, not the greatest success to put it politely. In the break, Tim, smartly dressed in a pink shirt, slightly camp and (rather vocally) horny (as ever) proceeded to chat-up the female conductor which was a pleasure to watch! At least he tried - some of us were not quite so brave .... The second half was no better and the cartoon piece we did was fairly simple and played simply dreadfully. Playing music normally leaves me on a bit of a 'high' and just left me feeling down last night. If it not been for the laughter with Tim, the night would have been a complete disaster!!

Back home and the depression compelled me to go to bed and following an OK night's sleep, I woke and wished I was giving the Tory Party Leadership candidates a real (as opposed to metaphorical) grilling. However, I dragged myself out for 0835 and walked to University. And Walked. Then walked uphill. And then staggered down. And at quite a lick. Normally 25 minutes is just enough time to get to the department. However, this was a lecture theatre in the most of obscure places in engineering and I had not allowed time to get lost. Naturally, I got VERY lost and walked in 8 minutes late. So the day did not start well...

Teaching on the course is certainly of variable quality. There is an old saying that those who are good at something, do it. Those who are less good, teach it. This is not always true. Marie Kinsey (my course director) and my mother are proof that this is not true. However, a couple of the lecturers seem to have had ok careers in journalism and have decided to teach it instead. For example, in one lecture we were discussing what various theotricians considered to be news and I had covered this during my time in France. It seemed to be clear that he was a little unsure of the meaning behind what the authors had said so he blustered accusing academics of being overly wooly ... this from a lecturer! Likewise, today in the audio-editing class with a journalist from BBC Radio Sheffield, he criticised wonderfully though was less good on constructive criticism and twice I would ask for his opinion on my recording and he would proceed to edit himself without explaining why or indeed what he was doing. I felt incompetant and depressed.

Furthermore, some of our tutors lack any sense of humour. Yesterday we had a law seminar in SG - LT 17. Well, I quickly realised the lecture was not in SG (St George's) but in SB (Stephenson Building). All I needed to do was find lecture theatre 17. Easy, I hear you cry. Well I met up with a few course mates in the foyer and we followed the signs for LT 2 -12 and then LT 14 -15 in the presumption that this would get us to somewhere near LT17. When we realised this was not the case we asked a passing professor in aeronautical engineering and he had no idea so off to the Porters' Lodge we popped. There we found the tutor and three more tutees. The porter helpfully told us to leave the building, go to the bottom of the road, turn right down down Broad Lane, take the next lane on the right, go through the archway and it is on our right. Obviously! Would have looked there! The tutor did not find this funny what-so-ever.

Overall, do not get me wrong, the teaching is of a high standard and it is still good to be working towards a career I love. It is simply that I wish we could smile a bit more. I also wish that I did not feel inadequate most of the time. I came top in the year in the first news quiz (very pleased) but still feel somewhat thick all the time.

So, by 1pm today I was ready for a half day's rest. However, due to some timetable movements (I am now going to be doing Monday 10-5, Tuesday 9 - 3, Wednesday 11-4, Thursday 9-1 and Friday 9-5 with a lunch break each day) I am doing almost a full time job, particularly when you consider we are told to do 10 hours OUTSIDE of class for each of our four modules. Thus, the BT appointment I had made on Saturday, had to be moved. Quick call to BT and I discovered that they had cancelled my appointment. Without telling me. So quick grumble later and eventually I get an appointment on Saturday 8th - 5 days earlier than expected. Hate being nasty. The next problem is registering for electricity/gas. Apparently Flat A does not exist ... oh well, another battle commences.

In conclusion, for some reason the last 24 hours have been a bit tough. I would like to blame it on the Conservative Party's Irritating election but in reality I think it is more to do with growing-up, getting used to the nature & style of post-grad study, getting used to being alone and adapting to Sheffield. It's the first time I have done something completely alone since going to Warwick and I think this is a bit tougher than that even as there are so few people in the flat/on the course/post-grads in general. I am so lucky as there are so few of us who have been selected and can afford to do this. And I know that in a few weeks I will wonder what I was e-grumbling about.

Mind you, it will be a relief when the Tories finally decide who is going to lose the next election for the part,

Love and smiles,

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Trainee Journalist Writes ...

OK - as yet I am not sure how many of you are reading this but it makes me feel better and solves the loneliness issue ... at least I can pretend I have friends to talk to!! As yet, no more flatmates. Went shopping ALONE for the first time in two years yesterday. No Bro/ Kathryn or Tom/Zoe which was a little odd. I had to rely on my own shopping list rather than pinching theirs!!

I am in a break between two law lectures (there are 5 a week!!) and I can now tell you what I can or cannot report in court. It all depends on if it is an indictable, either-way or summary offence ... it really is that technical. I know that the law is not there to protect the journalist, it is there for the benefit of each individual but it is a minefield for me. For example, under the 1980 Magistrates Act, if a person claims that they did not do a crime then they are sent to trial by jury if it is a serious offence. However, technically journalists are not allowed to say that the defendant has claimed he is innocent but can say he is going for trial by jury, even though the reason that a trial by jury is taking place is because they claim they are innocent. Confused? So am I but it all has to make sense soon.

Have finished the recording for my first report (a vox pop on which season people prefer). It was a little odd at first but it should turn into something interesting ... real people eh? Far more interesting than student radio. I also get a kick out of being able to call myself a trainee journalist!!

It has been a funny few hours in the news world. The news of the IRA's decommissioning has come a little sooner than I was predicting but I hope wonderful news. I would be interested to see what the Unionists' reactions will be. My argument that the Unionist 'army-like' organisations are going to have to make a similar move soon seems to be becoming reality now. Sinn Fein now realises that the war is now for votes and not for land. Whilst hard core unionists are never going to be persuaded to change their minds, I do wonder if the Gerry Adams et al. now hope that by being seen to give up violent ways, in contrast to the Ulster Paramilitaries, they will win votes and power. People, on the whole, are tired of violence, depite little erruptions of riots like those we have seen over the last few weeks. By claiming peace, votes will be won and the Republican movement will grow not due to a desire for a united Ireland so much as a desire for safety and prosperity. After centuries of conflict, the argument is once again shifting but in a way that is less predictable.

Now allow me to change subject completely, though the link will become clearer. Today I was on the fair streets of Sheffield asking people what their favourite season was. 'Summer' and 'Spring' dominated but one of the answers that struck me the most was the fact that people saw spring as a time of hope and regeneration. Several preferred spring as it symbolised what was coming as opposed to the disappointments of the present. The Summer may be all rainy but we dream of long, hot days. Perhaps we can use this as a metaphore for what we see in Northern Ireland and enjoy this spring moment. The Summer is going to be tricky in Northern Ireland as issues of trust need to be resolved but maybe an Indian Summer is not too far away. The future is not immeditely bright but there is a glimpse of hope.

So, off I now go on this rather sunny, autumn day in Sheffield. OK, at the moment I feel a bit down and a bit damp but the summer is coming.

My Love, as always,

Monday, September 26, 2005

My Crumbs .... not another entry!

Well, I have this rather odd little two hour break between the terrors of law (learn 5 chapters for next week, National exams are first week in January) and the fears of how to use a mini-disk properly (easier but technology rather old-fashioned compared to what I have used). First assignment is to do a collection of Vox Pops for Friday. Well nothing like jumping straight in. The innitial lectures seem slightly intimidating and it really feels like doing a three year undergraduate degree in just one year. Within 5 weeks we are meant to have sorted the technology out and this is normally three month's work for the under grad's!! I swing from really enjoying all of this to a feeling of being out of my depth, something which I do not like at all. It just seems at times that I should not be here! I am sure this will pass and everything will seem much more manageable when I have to actually 'do it'.

I suppose the surprise of the last few days has been getting used to being alone. There is still no-one in the flat with me. Has the word got out about my smell already?!! Met up with Tim again today and got nicely merry over a few pints. Also helped me feel warmer as the heating in the flat is not working and it is a little chilly up here in the cold north!!

It has given me a great deal of time to think which is never a good thing. Apparently I say sorry too much and for things that are not always my fault. I talked to a mate from work, a close friend and former housemate Zoe about this. Their conclusions are remarkabkly consistant that last term I did go somewhat off the rails but it was not altogether my fault. So, I unconditionally appologise for my errors but have also come to appreciate that life is not straight forward and it I cannot accept full responsability for all that goes wrong.

So, from here on in, it is a case of working my little derrière off and be positive.

Assertive Christopher signing off,

Friday, September 23, 2005

Soaked in Sheffield

Well, I've made it and the only injury so far is a slightly bloody thumb from an incident with a hammer. Can (hopefully) cope with Postgraduate study but the complexities of putting up a hook to hang up my dressing gown is a bit much!!

Registration seems to have taken three days and is only now fully completed. I have a rather neat, sky-blue U-card in my wallet. The introductory meetings went well. There are 19 of us and they all seem to be really nice and friendly. We went for a quick liquid refreshement after the meeting which lasted about three hours. The course basically has me working 10-5 four days a week plus loads of personal study thrown in - about ten hours for each of the four modules .... I sense some late nights coming up!! The course is exactly what I dreamed it would be with loads of practical stuff going on. Next week - how to use a mini-disk and digital editing software.

Met up with Tim (from Warwick) and had a really good gossip. I am somewhat jealous of his travels - the photo.s must be amazing. Actually, quite good to see another human being! The halls are OK, if a little lonely as I am the only one in the flat at present. I am off to give the bathroom and fridges a good scrub; the last in habitants were less concerned with strange orange growths than me!! My room is lovely (photos to follow shortly) and I can have my desk in a nice L-shape. BT is being a bit of a pain when it comes to connecting the 'phone but I will read them the riot act shortly.

So off I go, marigolds in hand up several (rather steep) hills back to my room. In the rain. But it's Yorkshire so what was I expecting!

Love to all,

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Hello and Welcome!

Firstly, congratulations, you made it across the internet and have found this page. It's a long, dangerous journey, I know, so thank you for your efforts.

So, this is the start of my new blog. Having blogged in various places whilst at Warwick, I decided it was time to tidy things up and set up a fixed home for my online scrawling. The aim of the blog is to keep some sort of record of what is happening in my life, tell other people what is happening in my life and share my take on the world with anyone who can put up with my poor grammar.

I leave at 10am tomorrow for Sheffield and my MA in Broadcast journalism. As with any big change, I am both excited and terrified. I am looking forward to actually starting on the path to a career in journalism and the prospect of earning some money for it is not too far away. However, getting used to a new university, city, set of course-mates and housemates makes me a bit nervous, to say the least.

It has been a good summer with the transition between Warwick and the rest of my life now well underway!! Normally, the summer is considered the 'silly season' for journalists. This year it has been anything but silly. Our TV screens, radio waves and internet pages have been dominated by major news stories which have lead to debates where our society is going and a great sense of a 'global' community developing. Live 8, G8, the London Olympic bid, the London bombings, the anniversary of the attacks on Japan, the IRA agreement to give up arms, the death of Brother Roger of Taizé, Hurricane Katrina and much more has taken place in just a few weeks. All of us have been affected by some or all of these to some extent.

So, as you read this, I hope you are safe, happy and all the changes in your life as well as the world around you is going smoothly.

Take care,