The blog of my 2009

On the face of it, 2009 wasn’t a bad year. I graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with an upper second class honours degree in Journalism and pretty much walked straight in to a job at Fast Web Media, which evolved in to my first full time job. Widnes won a cup final too.

But it’s also been a year of missing things. Finishing university and moving away from the familiar surroundings and people that I had spent the past few years with was strange. I also parted company with the person that was the most important part of my life for three and a half years around the same time, which made things doubly hard, while I still miss the job and most of all the people from my part time job which helped to sustain me during my university years.

I should be grateful for the fact I was able to find employment immediately (in fact, I was pretty much head hunted), because I know of plenty of people who couldn’t, and still haven’t, got a job, but perhaps selfishly, I’d have liked a bit longer “sitting on my arse”.

The definition of me sitting on my arse is somewhat different to your average just-out-of-uni student type. A friend said to me recently that he didn’t half get bored sat at home, but the fact is, I’m never bored, as I can always find something to do. It’s been a relatively successful year for Last Tackle, while I’m also always writing and doing website work for various other people – I’m currently working on a re-development of the Garswood JFC website as I write this.

The year started with a week off for me, as I was only able to secure a one week placement at the Warrington Guardian, which I trundled through. I did a few good stories and it was a relatively good week, although I just didn’t feel “right”. I did discover that I was a lot more confident on the phone than I thought I was, and was praised for my interviewing, but even to this day, I get very nervous prior to using the phone and interviewing.

Much of the first three months consisted of shorthand, newspaper, FIFA, takeaways, more FIFA and bed, but I enjoyed it. Producing and editing the Preston Independent over semester two of my final year was hands down the best educational experience of my life, and the rapport I built with my colleagues was superb, and hopefully something that will replicate later in life.

Exam time was a bit stressful, mainly because I knew it was make or break when I did my law exam, which I had failed twice. Admittedly, a lack of effort and underestimation of its difficulty had hindered me in the past two attempts – so this time I did actually do a bit of studying, and thankfully it paid off. It made results day a lot more nervy than it should have been, considering I had comfortably secured a 2:1 anyway.

The NCTJ week, well, was a bit of an embarrassment. I only opted to take two, and having blundered through the first one, opted to skip the second one entirely. I had become convinced that I didn’t quite see myself working in newspapers, so it wasn’t something that I found very pressing at the time. I do regret not maintaining the level of shorthand that I reached. I was quietly proud of achieving 100 words per minute, particularly as it was courtesy of what I would call a gutsy display in the exam. I had originally intended just to do 90, but I focused in on the 100 too, and got that nailed.

My sister celebrated her 18th birthday at the end of May, the day after I had been for an interview at Sunderland FC for the role of Media & Communication Officer. I made the shortlist of three, but ultimately turned the job down when FWM made me their offer. I didn’t quite fancy moving three hours away and working six days a week, particularly as I wouldn’t know anyone, and had no money anyway. In hindsight, it’s still the best decision.

June was about two things – starting my new job and Ben Black. I began at FWM on June 17. Four days later, Widnes beat Halifax 27-22 at The Shay in the Northern Rail Cup semi-final in one of the best games of rugby league I’ve seen. It was the most nerve-wracking too. After a relatively inconsistent season, I didn’t hold much hope against high flying Halifax, but an incredible away support was buzzing and Widnes raced in to a sizeable lead, only for Halifax to haul it back and take the lead at 22-20. But then Ben Black dropped the ball as he raced away for a certain try, and it was the lifeline Widnes needed. I seem to remember launching a foul-mouthed “arrogant scum” tirade at Black as I had thought he’d started celebrating and that’s why he dropped it, but as it happened, he’s just a duck egg.

July was remembered for two things too – Blackpool and Toulouse. Widnes won the Northern Rail Cup Final against Barrow for the second time in three years. I missed the first one due to being on holiday in Cyprus, and I was worrying that maybe I was a jinx, considering I had witnessed Widnes lose Grand Finals in 2006 and 2007, as well as seeing all but two games they played in their relegation year. Toulouse was a great weekend in France, where Widnes also won too. You’ll notice a correlation between times of joy and Widnes wins, which evidently means there’s a lot of time when I’m down. For instance, I’m still suffering a hangover from the play-off defeat at home to Featherstone, which of course has been forced to languish in the forefront of my memory, as there haven’t been any other games.

Since then, I’ve been going through the motions somewhat. I’ve become a bit careless and disorganised, and I need to get back on top of things to become more efficient. I’m still hoping to carry on with my own projects, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult while I work full time, so we’ll see what happens. 2009 ends in a bit of disappointment due to a planned development of Last Tackle being a bit in the air, but here’s to 2010!

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