One thing I both like and loathe about my job is that things can change in a second. One minute I can be sitting in London planning a story, the next I’m throwing my belongings into a bag and heading back home to Manchester to grab my passport and some zzz’s and head off to New York to produce a story from scratch. This is exactly what happened last Thursday, and it was exciting and terrifying in equal measures.
Except I have to tell you that it is NEVER New York. It was last week, but that was truly an anomoly at The Sausage Factory. Our show covers domestic stories only, on the whole. But apparently there’s an election happening in America or something… and I hear it’s kind of a big deal. So off I went. But usually it would be Newbury, or Milford Haven, or some unknown ex-industrial town in the arse end of the Midlands. Usually it’s a story about home repos, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or whatever is getting the masses talking. Which I love. But this…. was special.
Green laser beams of jealousy burned from the eyes of my colleagues into my flesh this week, as they asked nonchalantly “how was New York?”, before lugging their camera kit off to Wobbly Bottom to investigate crumbling mine shafts or similar. My reply was, I imagine, supremely irritating: “I wouldn’t call it a great time, but it was an experience”. Eyebrows were raised, internet. Curse words were muttered internally, I’m sure.
But it’s true. My New York adventure was challenging, exhilerating and fascinating. I thrilled at being in the big city, filming Central Park awash with autumn sunshine, and the tiny dogs and glamorous owners stalking the cobbles of the Meatpacking District. It was exciting to race across the Brooklyn bridge in the crew van, desperate to get to the Brooklyn Icecream Factory to film a piece-to-camera against the backdrop of sunset over Manhattan.I was gripped by the ever-unfolding narrative of the election and the sense of change in the air.
Yet, apart from a glorious five hours of free time on Monday morning (made longer because I woke up at 5am every day- what’s that all about?), which saw me making tracks like a greedy homing pigeon towards the Magnolia Bakery to kick a morning of shopping- apart from that, and my glam saturday night (followed by not-so-glam killer hangover), it was not in any way a “jolly”. It was really fecking hard work: overwhelming, challenging and utterly exhausting.
For every moment of New York magic, there were ten spent sitting in my hotel room trying and failing and finally succeeding to secure interviews, struggling with my script through drooping eyelids, wondering with more than a hint of desperation how I was supposed to pull this off with no help whatsoever (no assistant, no runner, no researcher- no budget, you see), asking myself whether it was really safe to entertain myself for an evening on my own in an area called Hell’s Kitchen and choosing instead to spend it sitting on my bed eating $15 room service noodle soup with a $20 glass of pinot g, marvelling at the strangely compelling circus act that is Fox News.
But life is about experiences, and an experience it certainly was. I wouldn’t have missed it, And now, three days and one 11pm finish in the edit later, it’s done. And so am I. I’m glad to be back to life as usual: to home cooked food and a comfy sofa, to stories about cash-strapped pensioners in Dudley, to stomach crunches on a motorway bridge under a freezing Manchester sky. To friends, and family, and a visit to my Granny which I had to cancel last weekend, with a great deal of guilt and angst (on her part, she insisted I must go to New York, and dashed off to wiki the reporter). And to sleep: lovely, glorious sleep.