FIRST things first – I am not looking for sympathy today. This is not a sob story. I’ve just finished a plate of my wife’s wonderful chicken casserole, poured a glass of red and as Mrs L and daughter sit down before a log fire to watch telly, I’m sitting down to write this.
It’s Monday, a little after 8pm and so far as I’m aware I’m in rude good health. A bit ‘cream-crackered’ but fine.
My ‘day’ started on Sunday at 8am when I took the boss’s chair of rugby league paper League Weekly, because the editor was on his hols.
We hit our 8.30pm print deadline and after a quick pint I worked until 11pm on another of our publications, Yorkshire Golfer.
A few hours of ZZZZs on my Ikea crash pad on the office floor and following Monday morning’s ablutions Golfer was off to the printers by 11am.
No big deal – except the editor of The Press is on his hols too, so it was an immediate dive into our new Morley edition (and what cracking young reporters we have in Zoe Shackleton and Connor Teale, by the way).
They were all over the job in taking up the gaffer’s slack – it’s called teamwork.
Done for 6pm, home for a bite, and here I am, penning this.
It’s a 7am Tuesday start before possibly another office overnighter on Wednesday – and when The Press goes to print on Thursday evening, I can breast the finishing line like Mo Farah (or maybe Mo Mowlam – again, ask your mums and dads, kids).
I wouldn’t want this sort of graft every week, but now and again, needs must.
I’LL get to the point shortly, but can I briefly mention public employees? Don’t get me wrong, I know firefighters can do long hours but for every Grenfell Towers there’s 10 years of showing old folk how to fit smoke alarms.
The Fire Brigades Union wouldn’t mention it, but a lot of cuts to the service are far more about the fact that buildings don’t burn down quite so prodigiously as they used to – testimony to the success of firefighters’ preventative endeavours.
Nurses do long hours? I know and many are absolute angels bless ‘em. But I’ve been at the bedside of critically ill family members while five gather round a nearby station – yes, we can hear you girls – and natter about Emmerdale. I’ve witnessed a loved one passing their final hours in distress with one junior doctor who barely speaks the lingo, looking after multiple wards.
I could say much the same about other routinely lauded public sector workers, from “overworked” teachers (how many weeks’ holiday?) to our heroic police – yup, those officers who will collar you for an intemperate Twitter comment, but give you the establishment’s equivalent of a flipped middle finger when you report a burglary.
But no, when aired in public by our politicians especially, they’re heroes all, worth every penny and more.
What they all have though, is a decent wage and guaranteed employment conditions (bad back, Sergeant? Have a year off!) I actually know of a primary school teacher who went off with stress – before starting the job. On the payroll for months without teaching an A-B-C or a 1-2-3.
Oh, and most public employees have cracking public sector pensions which they can access years before Joe ‘mug’ Public blokes like most of us can even imagine retirement.
Not that I’m resentful, obviously…
AND so, before you lot are unable to read through your tears let me press home the ‘poor-me’ sob-story.
This week, my ‘wage’ (not that I actually have one, as boss) could work out at about £2.50 an hour. Really. At times it could have been £25 an hour too. Double that on a once-in-a-blue-moon week.
You see, in honest businesses, where you pay your VAT, HMRC and Corporation Tax bills on the dot, and pay every invoice within 30 days, the gaffer, if he’s any good at what he’s doing, gets a chunk of whatever bunce is left. Months and years of ‘ok’, and a rare year of ‘way-haay!’
I trust most readers are mature enough to see where this is heading, because I really am not crying the poor tale. I’m a newspaperman, I love what I do. I have rugby and golf publications and guess what? Yup, I love rugby and golf.
And with all the checks and balances weighed, I’ve done alright, no complaints (although the wife has a few – try telling her that watching Dewsbury Rams play away is work. Even if it was Toronto. But I’ve done plenty of Batleys and Hunslets too!)
As tough a week as this is, it’s only a couple of times a year. I’ll sleep well tonight. Stress levels fine, thanks.
But what could finish me off; what could prompt me to just lock the office door and head for some distant beach, is the mad diktats of a thick-as-pig-sh*t Prime Minister and Cabinet, that couldn’t run a bath between them, let alone a business.
Am I offended by excessive City remunerations? Every bit as much as most hard-working folk. Indeed, almost as much as I’m offended by ideological Parliamentary zealots who decide I’m my staff’s enemy and need squeezing dry until I drop – at which point my carcass is fed to the workers.
And when they start going hungry? Well that will be my capitalist fault as well.
But I suspect, I hope, that I, like you, inhabit a real world that isn’t quite as disastrous as these starry-eyed fools pretend – but really could be, come December 13.
I’m having a day off on Saturday. Back at it Sunday though. And if my guess is wrong and we wake up to a fascist, anti-democratic government on December 13?
Well, if there’s no copy of The Press, you’ll find me on a beach somewhere...
I COULDN’T bring myself to watch the Prince Andrew interview live, but will have to try getting it on catch-up. Apparently it was so cringeingly awful, it was delightful for anyone who considers the pampered prince a blight on our monarchy.
That’s two thumbs up from Locky, one of them being for his horrible wife Fergie (and why do you think he keeps her in the lifestyle to which she’s become accustomed....?) I wish I could repeat some of the stories my wife relayed from her days working on Fleet Street, but I suspect there’s still a special place in the Tower of London reserved for the first journalist to try sharing them.
You have to feel for Her Maj, who must feel helpless at times like this. With a bit of luck, Princess Anne will give Andy a good slapping.
AS readers of The Press (but not our new Morley Press) will know, I’m not a fan of the police – not since being run off the A64 by armed cops just to titillate Chief Supt Julie Sykes (pictured).
And now to digress. I was asking after a young woman of my daughter’s acquaintance recently and was told she’d moved to Leeds and joined the police.
“Apparently after basic training she gets fast tracked onto a CID course,” explained a neighbour. She raised her eyebrows. Hmmm.
“But I thought she was good pals with your daughter?” I ventured.
“No longer. She got sick and tired of all the stories.”
“The girl can’t help herself, she just lies and lies and lies. It’s her default setting, she’s no friends left round here.”
Sounds like a fast-track Chief Constable in waiting.