I love people and hate people. Actually, scrap that, there’s no one I really hate, it’s just sometimes folk can be so frustrating. But it’s also people – nice ones – who keep me going.
I’ve probably always known this, but it’s been clearer these past few weeks as I’ve been developing some case studies at work, but I’m most definitely hooked by people stories. Journalism, for me, is always about people and even the headline news – the other week it was the budget, a big string of complex numbers and mathematical signs and men in suits shouting each other – are made more real by normal people. Usher in the pensioner who’ll struggle to stay afloat, or the single mother on Radio 2 before Easter who confessed to not being able to afford three meals a day, and suddenly those numbers and political arguments have meaning.
I probably discovered my love for people stories when I was a rookie report. I spoke to an elderly gentleman and author of The Trenchard Brat, one man’s tale about his life in aviation, told to me from the armchair of his living room in his Shropshire home. I remember that interview, of being hooked by his story, and the two hours I spent with him being way longer than I needed for a feature article in the Shrewsbury Chronicle. But he was a lovely old man with some lovely stories to tell, and he told them so well, from being given brandy as a baby to overcome illness, to wartime tales from the skies – when aircraft engines actually killed more pilots than enemies:
Frederick Wilson’s book still sits on my bookshelf, the copy he gave me all those years ago, and signals the start of my love for people stories. Which brings me on to my Five for Friday, people stories:
1) The lovely – and inspiring – author Julia Crouch spoke about her drastic career changes and discovering a passion and talent for writing while studying creative writing with The Open University. She says it changed her life; she now writes full time and is utterly content with her career. Lovely lady, and she gave me some useful tips too. Here’s the interview.
2) The next story has a Downton Abbey connection – and who doesn’t love a bit of Downton Abbey!? I spoke to Kevin Doyle, the actor who plays Joseph Molesley in the hit period TV drama…
3) Caroline Boyle is a former Olympic cyclist with an arts degree. Can sports and arts coexist? She certainly thinks so…
4) Carrie Walton is a blogger and all round lovely person, who I have the pleasure of dealing with on a weekly basis for work, and is also helping me out on an MA project I’m currently working on (the fruits of this labour are coming soon). She says it’s the green-eyed monster that spurs her on to try new things but I have to admire her ‘go get ’em’ attitude. Anyone who writes a letter to their own fat gets my vote :0)
5) Another victim of my MA project is Violet Fenn, author of The Skull Illusion, an online repository of post mortem photography. Sounds grim, but it’s actually pretty beautiful, and huge thanks to Violet for letting me into her home, introducing me to her snoring dog and talking about blogging. Which reminds me, I need to find my niche! (My audio interview with Violet is coming soon!)