Monday, 14 July 2008


Highlights this week definitely being the start of pre-season for my beloved Southend United, which has already resulted in trips to such amazing grounds as Great Wakering Rovers (Burroughs Park) and Thurrock (Ship Lane). OK, 'amazing' is overstating it somewhat. But it's started pretty well, with 2-0 and 4-0 wins in those games - and a 0-0 draw against Canvey Island that I'm glad I missed, after reading the match report. It was only a 10 day wait in between the Euro 2008 final and the start of pre-season, but that was hard enough. It's good to be back on the terraces anyway.

I've been busy at work at Premier this week on Radiothon analysis - which has actually been really interesting. It's basically been correlating what was happening on air during the week with when phone calls were coming in. I'm producing a very cool PowerPoint presentation at the moment, which should be useful for the team when they do another Radiothon. And to be honest, it's just great to work with such great colleagues and a brilliant radio station - so I don't care what they make me do really!

My results for my first year of Journalism Studies at The University of Sheffield came out today, and I got a first (woop woop!) which I was very pleased with, as I had to work pretty hard for it. Much harder than I imagined I'd have to actually - but the reward is insignificant in the long run really, as only the second and third years count towards the degree classification. Looking back, perhaps I should've enjoyed myself and worked less - I could've probably still got a first, but I suppose I'd rather I was further into the grade boundary.

The weekend was brilliant, as my brother got baptised at Leigh Road Baptist Church on Sunday, in a very moving service that was enjoyed by a packed congregation. It was good to get all the family and close friends together in the church, and I was very proud of my brother. I finished off the day meeting with some friends at The Peterboat in Old Leigh, with a pint of Carling in the sunset. Lovely.

Prospects for this week? I've got two days off from work on Wednesday and Thursday, which'll be nice, but I've got two musical engagements which will keep the revenue stream flowing! Then I'm back at work on Friday, although I'm going to see Spamalot with my good schoolfriend Adam - which I've been looking forward to for ages! And it's my half-birthday on Saturday - for those of you who don't know, my birthday is on Christmas Day so I always celebrate it properly in June or July as it's hard to get friends together on the 25th! So lots of fun ahead - and hopefully a good game tomorrow night as Southend take on Fulham in a friendly. But I wouldn't bank on it...


I think it’s right about time I blogged again. I can make all sorts of excuses, but I’ll spare you those and get on with the important stuff that you might actually be interested in reading about. I’ve decided I’m going to update this much more regularly now - hopefully once a week.

So over the last few months I’ve almost been killed, fallen in love three times and interviewed Jonathan Aitken (the latter two are not connected). I finished my exams at university in June, which were a bit crazy as there were so many of them and everyone else thought I was really unlucky to have eight in two weeks. But it was five in three days that was indeed quite ridiculous. Anyway they’re all done and I get my results next Monday, which will hopefully be just fine.

I’m currently working in both production and marketing for Premier Christian Radio in London SW1, which is the same place I worked last year - but in the news department. It’s an absolutely great place to work as everyone’s so friendly, and I’m earning way more than any of my friends at university for a summer job - so that’s an added bonus, although it’s reduced quite a bit after travel expenses are taken into account. Most people say travelling 80 minutes each way (Leigh-on-Sea to Fenchurch Street then Tower Hill to St James’ Park) on a daily basis is crazy, but I don’t mind it as long as I’ve got a good paper or puzzle to be getting on with. This is why I have unfortunately bought the Daily Mail on some occasions. But enough of that - it’s fantastic to be back at Premier, as I’ve got such great colleagues and it is actually quite exciting at times. Over my first two weeks of a 10 week contract, I was working on the Radiothon - which was a big please-give-money-to-Premier drive - and sourced 48 ‘drops’ in six days. These were quick snaps from well-known (and very hard-to-track-down) Christians on why people should support Premier. Whilst actually recording this was quite straightforward, getting hold of these household names was pretty tough. But after much perseverance (and chasing-up PAs who didn’t get back to me) I was quite pleased with my efforts - which were described as ‘stirling’ by the deputy programme controller. So a good start to my job indeed. The remaining four days of the first week were spent manning the phones, which eventually led to me almost going insane - although I came second on the staff leaderboard for donations, with over £16,000 taken in around 220 calls. So that wasn’t bad either, but I was annoyed I didn’t win, thanks to my colleague processing a £5,000 donation. But it wasn’t a game - it was all in aid of Premier, and we were working as a team, weren’t we?! Since then, I’ve been working on various marketing projects such as Coffee Break and Big Church Quiz, and some other things too. Anyway, I think that’s brought you up to speed, so here goes my review of my last week...

After such a busy two weeks working for production on Radiothon at Premier, I was put onto the marketing team to work on various projects. One of these, Coffee Break, successfully wound up everyone in my department by trying to get numerous supporters of Premier to hold a coffee morning for us. My conversation went something like this EVERY time for two or three days: “Hi my name’s Mark and I’m calling from Premier Christian Radio. Have you heard about our new Coffee Break initiative?” Then either “No? Well it’s basically where we’re asking our listeners to hold a coffee morning and I wondered if you’d be able to help us out with this?” or “Yes? Well that’s fantastic - would you be able to hold a coffee morning for Premier?”. Yes, it was that samey - and after going through 1,000 people on the database, I had spoken to almost 194 and got 23 to hold coffee mornings. Apparently anything over 10% is a good rate, but I was glad I didn’t work in sales as if I did, I would no longer have my job intact. From that monotony to the slightly more interesting aspect of the Big Church Quiz, where I had to write a script for a DVD we’re making for churches to use on a quiz night (and then support Premier). This was slightly more fun - in fact, a lot more fun - and I look forward to filming in a few months. Following all that, I’m doing some analysis on Radiothon audio - basically establishing what was happening on air when lots of calls were coming in (and vice versa), so our next Radiothon can be even better! That’s my working week sorted...

Away from SW1, I greatly enjoyed what was going on at SW19, and didn’t realise I liked tennis until watching Murray v Gasquet and then the men’s and women’s singles finals at the weekend. Really tense sport of a high quality, and it coincided with around 15 consecutive wins for yours truly in table tennis against the three other members of my family. Not a chance, I tell you. Thursday was a very cultural evening, what with an open-air opera concert in Canary Wharf followed by a private viewing of one of my mum’s friend’s pieces of art in an exhibition called SS9, in Southwark. That was very interesting indeed and rather high-class for a young man like me, but I enjoyed myself. A TAGS (The Almost Gospel Singers) concert followed on Friday at my old junior school, West Leigh, and that was very interesting as it wasn’t really a concert, but rather an ‘exposition’ whilst other people were looking at art. So we had to sing extra loud, but it was OK - check out for details of our next concert in September! My weekend wasn’t too busy, aside from helping my brother write his testimony ahead of his baptism next Sunday, visiting our friends in Finchley (and getting horrendously lost as usual) and meeting up with some friends at the pub to celebrate two birthdays at the same time - very productive indeed. Added to that, I couldn’t get to sleep very easily on Saturday as there was a live steel band playing in the next-door neighbour’s garden until midnight. It went through my windows and earplugs, but it’s never usually noisy so I wasn’t too annoyed! Anyway that’s enough for now - if you’ve read down this far, well done. I’d like to meet you one day (in a public place).

N.B. This post's actual date is Monday 7 July 2008, not Monday 14 July 2008 - as stated above