I am never really sure why I became a journalist, as I always wanted to be a vet.  The fact that I didn't like the sight of blood and thought poodles should all be drowned at birth probably put paid to that - and the fact that I couldn't hack physics.  Working for a newspaper seemed the only option, or at least it was when it was the only job offer that came through after college.

            The thing about journalism is that everyone thinks it's interesting.  In some cases it can be more than that, as it is positively dangerous - but for the majority it is little more than routine.

            Forget investigating high-profile crimes or unveiling the latest piece of showbiz scandal, the majority of journalists have to start as junior reporters, and as such are plagued by delights like parish council meetings, obituaries and golden weddings.
     

Janet Kelly

               Everyone has to start on the newspaper ladder cutting their teeth on debates - as I did - on who would pay to put up the local bus shelter, the price of sausages for the village fayre, or the lives and loves of some geriatric who once came up with an idea to re-shape the road system round an entire town to make it a nicer shape from the sky. 

               For all these strange and wonderful stories, which may also have taken in weekend trips to judge the nicest form of turnip or best cauliflower wine at an allotment society show, the best had to be the golden weddings. 

               The very feat of having made it successfully to such a celebration was often enough to bring me to tears - and I have to admit to having very fond memories of one couple, when asked about their recipe for a happy marriage.  "Oh, we don't like foreign food," they chanted as one voice - and then, when the wife went to make a cup of tea, the husband admitted in a whisper that he might once have liked to have tried a Chinese meal but didn't think he should. 

                Having evoked such a sage response to my quest for the perfect state of coupledom, I would often ask this question again - with varying responses.  Other favourites include: "Actually, we don't like each other but I was up the duff," to "After a few years you don't really notice who you're with." 

               There were a few who offered much better advice, often revolving around ignoring faults and trying not to argue, but invading the special moments of people's lives has certainly been something of a lesson in life. 

               All I know is that should my (second) marriage last 50 years - in which case I shall have unearthed the secret of an incredibly long life - I won't answer the door to any reporters, other than to tell them to mind their own business and get a proper job! 

                Janet Kelly's novel, Dear Beneficiary, will be published by Cutting Edge Press on March 19th 2015. Further details from info@freefeatures.co.uk 

 

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