Nov 012013

Like many other people I was saddened to learn of the death of Lou Reed this week. It was like another piece has been chipped away from me.

I took the time to listen to a few tracks, most notably the version of Perfect Day released by the BBC in 1997 to support Children In Need and featuring a myriad of stars.

I also fondly recall Lou’s appearances in one of my favourite movies – Wim Wenders’ Faraway, So Close! – where he sang Why Can’t I Be Good.

I happened to be in a HMV music store on Monday and it was playing its own tribute with a track that I instantly recognized but could not remember the title. I had it on a compilation double cassette tape – remember them? – called Sounds of The Sixties or something along those lines. One of the other tracks from the compilation that sticks in my mind is My White Bicycle by Tomorrow, which I have just discovered was Steve Howe’s band before he joined Yes. What would we do without Google and Wikipedia?

For several days, the melody of the Lou Reed track has haunted me. Finally, today, I checked out iTunes to see if I could come up with the name. I called up Velvet Underground and stared at the list of tracks. None of the titles listed leaped out at me. I thought I was going to have to work my way down the list until I found the track in question. But then I had one of those inexplicable moments. Something deep in the recesses of my mind prompted me to click on Venus In Furs, part way down the list, and it was the track I had heard in the store.

The search for employment continues. I was invited for an interview at 48 hours’ notice. The interview was scheduled for 2:30 pm on Thursday and would have involved a four-hour train journey. Unfortunately, I had a medical appointment on the same day. I had been waiting two weeks for this appointment and was loathed to cancel, so I contacted the company and asked if I could reschedule the interview.

Here is the reply:

Unfortunately we are only holding interviews on Thursday at this stage, I have another interview slot at 9.15 if this would be more convenient.

I also enquired about getting my travelling expenses reimbursed. It would have cost me in the region of £70 to attend the interview. I was told that the company was not in a position to reimburse travelling expenses. I also gained the impression the interview was a preliminary one to draw up a shortlist for a second interview. So had I been successful and made it to the shortlist, I could have had to spend £150 attending both. I think £150 spent on Lottery tickets may have produced a better return.

I did a bit of research and learned that the US parent of the company in question paid out $158 million in dividends in 2012. Further research revealed that the company in question was not a particularly good employer to work for. Journalists are routinely made redundant in order that the directors can pay themselves huge annual bonuses. I think I dodged a bullet there.

It is no coincidence that all of my former colleagues at The Birmingham Post who have remained in the UK, with the exception of two, are no longer working in the regional newspaper industry. I now know the reason why.

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