Finding a job for a grown up – Lee Coppack / Guest Contributor
It’s not a job for a grown up, a colleague once said of journalism. Well, I’ve been a journalist or something similar for 40 years now, and it seems to me that I should start thinking about what to do as a grown up (even if a very short one).
At 30 or even 40, the options are still vast, if you’re prepared to retrain, study, write a book or…
Most of these, unfortunately, involve a degree of penury for at least several years, so you really have to want to make the change. How enviously I’ve looked at the few colleagues who’ve done that. Oh, yes, time spent covering court cases and hearing brilliant advocates inspired day dreams of becoming a lawyer, fighting injustice and wrongful convictions, a sort of Perry Maisonette in my case. But the law degree, bar exams and time slogging away in magistrates court before being allowed to appear as a junior junior in Crown Court? I could carry on writing about the cases without going through all that, and so I did.
It’s one of the advantages of being a journalist. No one expects you to be an expert. In fact, they are delighted when it turns out you know the difference between quota share and excess of loss reinsurance. You can even mis-type your own name and people aren’t very surprised. You get to hang out with important folk in the industry and ask impertinent questions. They offer you food and drink which is often better than you buy for yourself. I have agreeable memories of the patrician CEO of a now vanished reinsurance company who had hired a retired chef from Buckingham Palace for the executive lunches. They were good and lasted well into the afternoon. Other things got offered, too, although that was when I was younger.
Then there’s the book idea. Something fat with gold foil blocking on the cover to sell in its millions in airports was about the height of my ambitions, and after I read The Da Vinci Code, it seemed hard to believe that this wouldn’t be within my reach. Somehow, though, it’s hard to maintain even that level of invention when there is journeyman writing and editing that has to be done first to pay the bills. And there are emails to be answered, twitter to feed (well named since it has the voracity of a baby bird), and, of course, online auctions to check.
I’ve given myself the next two years to come up with ideas as to how to keep myself sensibly occupied in the next phase of my working life. I would love to hear how others have come to their conclusions. Or if they have interesting but legal ideas for me. After that I may retire, but not just yet.