Tuesday, 18 December 2012

In Answer to Your Question...

I must admit to using Google Analytics quite a bit, mainly so I can try to guess who might have been sneaking a peek at my blog. Google Analytics provides fairly detailed stats that can keep you amused for hours and one of my favourite things to find out is how people have landed on my site. Sometimes people accidentally end up on here after trawling through Google* searches and for that I'm truly sorry. This post is dedicated to all of you who don't really care about who I am or what I do and who just happened to stumble across my blog one day expecting to find something completely different. As it is the season of good will I shall try to answer all the questions that you couldn't find answers to the first time you came here.

Around The World With Willy Fog
The most hits I've had from Google referrals surprisingly were from people who wanted to know about Willy Fog, that dashing gentleman/lion who is obsessed with good time keeping. I do love the cartoon very much although I must admit my love for it did waiver slightly after I decided to watch the complete box set in one sitting to mark National Willy Fog day this year (28th April if you were wondering). There were 26 episodes in total and they only had three or four different songs that they kept using again and again for the whole series. 

Someone from Andover got to my blog after trying to find out who the cat was in Willy Fog. Her name was Princess Romy and Mr Fog rescued her from some weird tribe in India who were going to burn her because she was married to a prince who then died and therefore after the husband is dead what good is a wife? Surely it would be more humane to just end her suffering once and for all...right? So Willy Fog and his daring companions rescue her from a burning tower and then take her on the rest of their trip and back to London where they eventually get it on and get married. I love a happy ending me. Of course there is another cat in Willy Fog, his name is Rigodon and he is Willy Fog's French butler and actually he was the one who saved Princess Romy from being burned alive. He swung to her on a vine and it was really quite heroic. 

Somebody from London came onto my blog expecting to find information on National Willy Day. Do we even have one of those??? It all seems rather sexist to me. Surely if we do have a National Willy Day it would only be right to have a National Vagina Day as well to even it out. Anyway according to a Facebook group after a five minute Google search (even though I have a degree in Journalism I like to do things the Phillip Schofield way) I have found out that it's on the 14th May if you were wondering. 

Heston's Giant Tea Pot
Another popular topic of searching that brought people to my blog was Heston Blumenthal's big tea break. I worked on this particular episode of Heston's Fantastical Foods and unsurprisingly I got a lot of hits about this after the episode aired on Channel 4 in November. 

Keywords such as "Heston's giant kettle" (there was no kettle, it was a tea pot), "where did heston film hos big tea break" (I don't know but I do know that he filmed his giant tea break in the Lancashire town of Darwen) and "Heston Bloomingdale great brittish cuppa" (his surname is Blumenthal) all brought people to this site. There was also someone who was hoping to find out more about "heston cheating on the giant tea". I can confirm that there was no cheating involved. There was a giant tea pot, there was a giant tea bag with tea leaves (I stitched up that thing with my own hand after all) and the tea bag went in the tea pot and created tea as we know it. There was a giant tea cup and giant biscuits and we dunked the biscuits into the tea cup and everybody stood around drinking tea and eating biscuits. There was no clever camera trickery involved, sorry to disappoint. 

This photo was taken and
Instagramed by Barney
Harwood himself
Blue Peter 
I had two different people from two separate but connected searches come on here, one from the words "Barney Harwood feet" and the other from "Helen Skelton feet". Now I wasn't aware that foot fetishists took a particular shining to Blue Peter presenter's feet but I was slightly creeped out by this new revelation. As it turns out I was working on the Blue Peter's Christmas Special yesterday evening and I can confirm however that both presenters do have have feet which is a relief. 

I also had someone descend on here after a Google search of "Blue Peter ship tattoo". Yes I have one and if you wanted one for yourself I suggest you make sure it looks like the image above.

Barney (the old English Sheepdog) 
I may have mentioned my favourite cartoon when I was three years old in a post about children's theme tunes and I have had a few hits from like minded people. I loved this show so much when I was little that I named my dog after it. He was the bestest most awesome dog ever, even more so than the dog he was named after. Anyway I digress, someone came on here looking for the theme tune (look below) and another person wanted to know who wrote the series...his name was Peter Bonnici.

Test Card
I like my business cards with the test card on them. I think it's a good look for me. The other day someone typed in "Fiona TV testcard image" and I just wanted to say hi, yes, that's me. What can I do for you? I also had someone come on after typing into Google "I know testcard F girl"...good for you, but why are you telling Google this?

Other internet surfers that got washed up on my shore included someone who searched "University of Chester dissertation title and mail CV". I'm not really sure what they were hoping to find but I did go to The University of Chester, my dissertation title was "News Broadcasting for Children: a study into children’s perceptions of television news with particular reference to CBBC’s Newsround" and I probably had the most fun researching for it than anybody else who ever wrote a dissertation. My CV can be found by using the links at the top of the page and I'm not going to divulge my home address. 

I also had someone searching for "left handed girl shooting". Yes I am left handed and yes I am a girl but I've never shot a person or anything else for that matter apart from flies with those fly gun things that don't work anyway. Is this person implying that hypothetically because I'm left handed or because I'm a girl that might somehow make me incapable or at least hinder my ability to shoot, because I take great objection to that for all of left handed womankind...although personally it's probably true. I tried archery whilst on Guide camp once and I wasn't very good at shooting straight. I had more luck at hitting my target when I was aiming for the one next to it. 

So concludes my Q and A round up for the year and I sincerely hope it clears up a few things. Have a Merry Christmas and I'll be back writing more insightful rubbish about my career in the new year. 

* In the interest of fairness and unbias I should point out that there was one person who used Yahoo's search engine before accidentally ending up reading my blog.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Round Robin 2012

Robin and Peagreen couldn't afford a Christmas tree this year so they had to make do with decorating the spider plant instead. 

It's a long running tradition on my mum's side of the family to include a neatly typed round up of the year that comes nicely folded inside Christmas cards and boasts about various achievements and holidays distant relatives have been on in the past 12 months. Every year I sit down to read what the family have been up to and every year I feel ashamed that I have no worthy achievements to smuggly declare to the rest of the world. The last time I went abroad was three years ago, I finished uni in 2008 and stayed in my uni town of Chester temping in mind numbing office jobs that refused to give me permanent employment and because of that I was slowly losing the will to live. All in all, my life was nothing to brag about and although I was constantly sending off job applications left right and centre it wasn't getting me anywhere and I was afraid that I would eventually lose sight of my dream and be one of those people that just give up trying and eventually become quite content moaning about how shit my life was without actually doing anything to change it.

This year has slightly more eventful however. Since moving to Salford at the very end of last year to pursue a career in the television industry, something that I've always wanted but had no realistic idea of how to go about obtaining one, I've had an exciting 12 months of personal achievements and I feel like I should shout them from the rooftops. So here it is, my round robin of 2012:

I was very excited to get a work experience placement at Red Production Company. I was there for two weeks and it was awesome, I learned so much about how a well established indie company works from a production point of view and I managed to get a day of floor running for a series of shorts they were shooting for BBC Learning. Plus, everyone who I worked with were all fantastic and lovely people. Red are based in Granada Studios and it was mind boggling to think that these amazing places (MediaCity too), which were like fairytale castles in the sky before I moved to Manchester, were now within walking distance from my little flat and have now become real places to me.

I started this blog because I felt bad about lying on my BBC Production Talent Pool application that I had a blog of this nature when I didn't. Two days after setting up Destination Telly Land I got the rejection email from the BBC but this blog is still going strong which surprises me more than anything from the whole of the year. I was always terrible at keeping a diary as a teenager. I'd have three or four day spats of half heartedly pouring my heart and soul out onto paper but only writing things that I thought I'd find funny or poignant in years to come (I found one of my diaries a few months ago and it hasn't stood the test of time) and then not bother for the next six months. However I've found that blogging about my career struggles and achievements has been rather enjoyable and therapeutic and a good source of bed time reading before an interview.

I worked as a street caster for Sing Date (it's on Sky Living) which involved me loitering outside the reject door of The X Factor auditions and persuading people who had just had their hopes and dreams dashed at the first hurdle to come and audition for this show instead...it was good fun even if most of the lads who I spoke to thought I was hitting on them (I obviously had to find out if they were single and looking for lurve before launching into my speech and some of them seemed to not understand that I wasn't on the hunt for a penis for the night). Aside from that it was quite amusing and a minor milestone in my career as it was my first paid job in the industry since moving to Manchester.

After going to a networking evening and getting business card envy I set about creating the best business cards ever. I ditched my cheapskate ways (I was brought up by a Scotsman, it was bound to rub off on me) and decided to invest time, effort and money on rebranding myself and this is what I came up with. Now people introduce me as: "this is Fiona, she has the most awesome business cards!" I also started to work a lot on Dickinson's Real Deal. I love working on that show, all the crew there are like one big happy family and it's just a lovely environment to work in.

I got asked out of the blue to work as a set dresser for a Hollyoaks promo which of course I said yes to. It turned out to be the most exciting and brilliant two days ever and would be, as Zac Effron and Vanessa Hudgens once sang, the start of something new. I had never worked in the art department before and although I have always been a rather crafty person,  it has never been something I had thought about as a career until then. I spent two days running about in a wood, planting fake bluebells and poppies and putting up tents, flags and bunting everywhere. It was amazing and I had some great feedback from the rest of the art department. On top of that I had to register myself as self employed and create an invoice and everything which was highly exciting in itself and a little bit terrifying. It signified the start of a some sort of adult career, with responsibilities and hopes for the future...not just some mad pipe dream. Seven months later I still get excited about sending invoices to people.

In June I trundled down south to work at Whipsnade Zoo to work with the lovely guys at SGA Productions. They specialise in event management and they put on some amazing fantastical feats of wonder. I was working with them on a Shaun the Sheep related sports day type event that included silly costumes, sack races, sheep hoppers (they're like space hoppers but woolly), welly wangling, cuddly cabbages and giant sheep that you had to roll around an obstacle course. Plus I got to dance around to S Club 7 five times a day wearing a very sexy sheep hat with dangly ears. What's there not to love?

This was a hella exciting month for me. First up I went to Sheffield to volunteer at The Children's Media Conference. It was a fun packed four days of meeting people who were just as excited about children's television as I was, networking with people who otherwise would be completely unobtainable to speak to in the real world and much partying. I had the responsibility of ensuring everything ran smoothly in one of the show rooms, there were some really important speakers and a really tight schedule to work to. It was slightly daunting to start with but after the first session (there were nine altogether) I bloody loved it.

After that I went down to Bournemouth with the BBC Learning team to help out on Blue Peter's Big Olympic Tour...as in BLUE PETER...as in that blue ship thing I've got tattooed on my back. When I got that call I was literally over the moon. Blue Peter! Although it was for just one day and it was voluntary I didn't care, it is Blue Peter after all. It also turns out that the BBC Learning team are a huge bag of fun and it was a pleasure to work with them and experience what they do.

The other exciting thing I was involved in during July was Heston's Fantastical Food. I was there for the giant tea party in Darwen and I actually spent many hours the day before shooting sewing up a giant tea bag. It was all very exciting.

During August there were lots of Cbeebies and CBBC events to get involved with at MediaCity. From Justin's House Party on the Piazza to Sam and Mark's Sports Day (I may have mentioned to their face that I was on Pop Idol the same year as them singing songs from the Rocky Horror Show in my underwear). By far the best event that went on during the summer months was the Sing-a-long Cbeebies and the highlight of that has to be Rastamouse singing a song about how to pick your nose correctly! It was pretty cool.

I also got to work with the guys at SGA again for a couple of summer festivals this time a bit closer to home which was lovely.

September and October
September and October was mainly filled with running around in Herefordshire set designing, dressing, prop buying and having all of my cigarettes pinched by the 1st AD for a feature film called Here & Now. Initially I was taken on as a set dresser but during the recce I soon discovered I was to be a one man band art department and had two weeks to source and obtain the entire props list before 3 weeks of solid filming..no pressure then! It was crazy, manic, exhausting and a rather steep learning curve for someone who hadn't worked in the art department for very long but it was such good fun (despite the extreme weather), which was helped by the fact that the rest of the crew were absolutely amazing guys to work with.

In November I got my first ever onscreen TV credit. My little name scrolled up my television screen after Heston's Fantastical Foods and it was all rather exciting. I also signed up to BECTU, the trade union for the media and entertainment industries. Both of these things made me feel like I'm on my way to a real career or something. I also won an £800 bursary for some kind of training of my choice from a tombola which was quite exciting. I'm on the look out for some really good courses in set design or prop making so if anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear about them.

I've just finished working as an audience manager for Applause Store down at MediaCity for a new quiz show called Britain's Brightest. It was a nice little side earner and it was good to experience another aspect of studio programme making.

All in all, I think I've had a fairly successful first year in Manchester, much more so than if I had stayed in Chester at any rate. I've met so many fantastic people along the way and have enjoyed and benefited from every part of my journey so far. Thanks to everyone who I've worked with and spoken to and had a couple of beverages with and to all those who have given me advice. It's been a blast so far and I'm very excited to find out what 2013 has in store.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

My First On-Screen Telly Credit

Last week I celebrated my first credit on the small screen and I got a tad excited about it. When you work on a film, credits are given out left right and centre to everyone and their parents (my dad will actually be credited for the latest film I worked on for lending me half of the tools from his garden shed) however it's a bit more difficult to get your name featured at the end of a television programme. Due to the time is money issue, the credits have to be very minimal so that schedulers have more time to fit in adverts and viewers don't get bored and switch over to a different channel. They can't credit every single person who has ever worked on a show just because it would take forever. This means that the people at the bottom rung of the ladder rarely get credited, especially if you're only working on a show for a couple of days. 

So there I was, settling myself down to marvel at my amazing tea bag sewing skills on last weeks episode of Heston's Fantastical Foods and to reminisce about how yummy those giant biscuits were, fully expecting that to be the extent of the excitement for the evening. I was not expecting my name to be in the credits and I wasn't even looking out for it but luckily the flatmate was keeping a beady eye out and spotted my very own name scrolling up the screen. Due to the wonders of modern technology we rewound it and paused it to marvel at the two little words: Fiona McLean suspended in mid air and to take photos. It was a highly exciting moment of my life, so much so that I set up a timeline event on Facebook in its honour, went on about it quite a bit on Twitter and told everybody I knew (sorry guys) and just to milk it that tiny bit more you've just been reading a blog post about it....after all, it's not every day you get your first television credit and I want to savour this moment before I get blasé about my many TV credits in the hopeful future. 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Great British Bunt Off

Sadly, alas, the Great British Bake Off is over for another year and it has filled a void in my heart where lots of bunting used to be. In fact every single job I've been on this year (bar Dickinson's Real Deal) has involved me putting up and taking down bunting in some way and what with the Jubilee and the Olympics, the whole country has been covered in little triangular flags and I personally love it.

I am well aware that the bunting that has been used to decorate public places and shops won't last for much longer, winter is drawing in and soon 2013 will be upon us, a new year with less things to celebrate as a nation and I fear that next year will be severely lacking in the bunting department. I worked out some time ago that I couldn't bear to not have it in my life and after visiting my dad complete with hire car I saw my opportunity to reclaim my sewing machine and take it back up to Manchester with me so I could start making my own.

It has been years since I used my sewing machine, firstly it's very rare that I get a chance to go down to my dad's without taking the train and after trying to lug my knitting machine up with me on public transport a few years ago (Birmingham New Street was a particular nightmare and I was racing against the clock to get home before Doctor Who started) I wasn't prepared to go through the same stress and muscle work out again. Secondly I had decided years ago that the tension on my sewing machine was buggered and instead of getting it fixed I let it gather dust for a decade in the corner of my room.

After introducing my sewing machine to my little flat for the very first time and discovering that it worked perfectly fine (thus meaning I didn't have to find someone to repair it for me after all), I started trawling through fabric shops. A day later I ended up with this...bunting that can be enjoyed the whole year round and a good way to break up horrible characterless white walls. I'm already thinking of setting up a Folksy account and dedicating all my spare time to making tonnes of the stuff to sell online because soon there will be no more room for bunting in my flat and I'll still want to make more, probably to the point where I will no doubt trip over it and break my neck...a bit like those crazy cat ladies before they eventually get taken to homes and their animals are carted away by the RSPCA.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Mystery Package

When I got back up to Manchester from my travels and all the undelivered items of post that were too big to fit through the letter box whilst I was away had been collected from the collection office, I was very excited to find a package addressed to me that I was pretty sure wasn't something I had ordered online. On opening said mystery package I discovered an original work of art that my flatmate owned up to having commissioned for me by a little artist called Lloyd Jones. From what I can gather, the conversation went something along the lines of (and I may be paraphrasing slightly): "my flatmate likes Doctor Who and Neighbours and Newsround and Blue Peter and kids TV in general...well actually most TV in general. She also has a strange obsession with test cards. Please paint her something amazing" and this is what he came up with....pretty awesome huh!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Your Hire Car Is Due a Service

I hired a car to pootle around in for the duration of the job I've just finished on. I hired it from Europcar and picked it up from the Salford depot then drove down to Gloucestershire which is where my dad lives and commuted to various parts of Herefordshire, Monmouthshire and The Forest of Dean on a daily basis with very little phone coverage.

Two weeks into the job I received a voicemail message from a lady at Europcar asking me to phone her back regarding my hire car. Immediately I thought I'd got a speeding fine or possibly something worse (although I am a very careful driver). I thought this might be the end of my career as lots of jobs I apply for require a clean driving licence, so with a heavy feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach I phoned her back expecting the worst whilst dangling out of the bathroom window which was the only place that I could get the maximum of two bars of signal at our location. It turned out that I hadn't got a speeding fine or points on my licence at all, only the car was due a service and although I had only hired it for three and a half weeks, they decided to let me drive off with it, not bother to tell me about this and then expect me to drop it into one of their depots so that they could swap it over for a different car at my convenience. 

At the time I was leaving the house at six in the morning, driving for at least an hour, working 11 hours a day for six days a week with only Sundays to catch up on sleep and then driving home again with a nightly stop to the 24 hour Tesco or ASDA to pick up various food props for the following day's scenes. Most nights I didn't get home until after 10pm so unless the Europcar depots are open at midnight, there was no way I could have done it. Also my car was piled high full of rubbish, old call sheets and all of the props for the entire film in every nook and cranny I could find. I had been traipsing through fields and rivers, there were wet towels shoved in the boot, spades, forks and a particularly bristly doormat that had moulted all over the back seats. I was not willing to transfer all of that into another car and I was definitely not willing to give the car back in the state it was in before it had a chance to meet my vacuum cleaner and a bucket and sponge. 

I told the woman my situation although I chose not to tell her about the condition of the car at that particular point in time and I also told her that it might be possible to drop it off at the Gloucester depot sometime after the 8th October as I will have finished working by then (I was planning to keep the car and stay down there for a few more days to see people I don't normally get to see before making my way back up to Manchester). Monday 8th October came and I got a phone call at 9.30am from the same woman (bearing in mind this was the first time I had a chance to lie in for three whole weeks and I was still feeling a little bit delicate from the wrap party on Saturday night). I told her that I had finished my contract and that I had more of an opportunity to drop it in and get it swapped for a different vehicle, she then asked me if I was still planning to drop the car back off on Thursday to which I asked if it was ok to extend it for another day and drop it off on Friday. She told me that was absolutely fine and because I was returning it then I didn't need to bother getting it swapped over in the meantime because they'll just service it when I take it back to Salford on Friday...so after initially making such a big song and dance over how paramount it was to get it serviced right away and chasing me up for two weeks about it, I take it back a day later than originally agreed and they're perfectly fine about it. Brilliant...great...thanks for all the pointless phone calls!

Friday, 24 August 2012

IMDb Credits

For my next job I'm going to be the Set Dresser for a little indie feature film set in deepest darkest Hereforshire/The Forest of Dean. I am completely over the moon about it, it has such a lovely script and working on indie films is great fun. It also means that I get to spend some quality time with my family and hopefully get to see some of my old mates who are still knocking around in that part of the world (I grew up down there and they always moan that I don't go back to see them often enough).

I have worked on two other feature films in the past and one of the main things I was looking forward to was being credited on IMDb. Once you're on IMDb you feel like you're well on your way to making it this industry and your name will forever be carved on the world wide web on this most hallowed and respected website. The first feature film I worked on was called Rebels Without a Clue and that was back in 2008. When the director submitted everyone's details to IMDb somehow they linked my credit to a different Fiona McLean, a Fiona McLean who incidentally had been the Production Manager for the Visual Effects on films like Harry Potter and X Men! At the time I thought the mix up was rather cool and even though I had only just come out of uni and had the highly glamorous job as a clapper loader on a little indie film shot in the middle of winter on the Yorkshire moors, I was quite happy pretending that I also worked with the VFX team on a few Potter films on the side!

Two years later, my second indie feature cropped up, a dark comedy called In Me (which is not a porno just in case you were wondering). Again this was shot in the middle of winter, and this time I actually had quite large responsibilities in the form of Production Co-ordinator which basically meant I was the only person in the production office whilst everybody else was on set. I was doing everything from creating call sheets and keeping everyone up to date with the shooting schedule to organising extras and locations. Again my IMDb credit got tagged onto the other Fiona McLean's page and this time I wasn't so happy about it. It didn't really seem fair that this other person who just happens to share the same name as me was taking all the glory for my work so I decided to sort it out.

Because it all has to be verified by the IMDb staff, it's not just a simple case of creating an account and making your own profile on there. I had to write a long pleading message on the IMDb help desk explaining that the Fiona McLean they are adding my credits to is actually a completely different person and could they please set up a different page and transfer my two credits over. Then I waited for over two months before I realised that they only transferred one of my credits over, it looked very sad and lonely just sat there all on its own. I sent them another message asking if they could transfer my other credit onto my brand spanking new page and they got back to me asking if I could wait another month before asking them to do it again because it takes time for these things to happen so it's probably in the process of being transferred over as per my original request. So after patiently waiting for a whole month expecting to magically have two credits up on my page waiting for me one day and it not happening, I got onto them for the third time asking very nicely if they could transfer my last credit over. Eventually it happened and even though this had been going on for four months (plus the three years they were up on the other Fiona McLean's profile) I was quite excited to have a little section of IMDb that I could call my own.

So now that little hiccup is all sorted and I finally have my very own IMDb page (I'm Fiona McLean II which I like to think makes me sound quite regal and important...ha!) hopefully everything will go smoothly when this latest film gets added. However I have a sneaky suspicion that the same thing will happen again and I'm going to have to wait another two months before IMDb sorts it out. We shall see...

Thursday, 16 August 2012

No Sticky Back Plastic Required

When I'm not working I like to busy myself with little projects. The last time this happened I ended up with a fully authentic Tracy Island that Anthea Turner would be more than proud of. This wonderful piece of artwork has made a welcome feature in three different homes now...I've moved around quite a bit in the last few years.

When I moved into my current flat I was faced with the problem of having a couple of recycling bins outside but nowhere to store my recyclable goods in the flat before braving the great outdoors. I then decided to make my own recycling box using a box that I had lying about after moving so many times. I thought I would keep the theme and use the Blue Peter ship* because I like to be a bit different from the norm and I didn't want to use the bog standard recycling logo because everyone's got a recycling box with the little arrow triangle thingy right? Plus I never sent off anything to get a green Blue Peter badge as a child so I like to think I'm making up for it now. This is the finished result and you can have a look at my Instructables tutorial for a step-by-step guide should you so wish to make your own.

*I would like to point out that I'm not actually scarily obsessed with Blue Peter contrary to all the evidence stacked against this statement. Yes I may have two badges, a Tracy Island, a hand knitted jumper with the ship on, a tattoo, and now a recycling box using the logo but I honestly just like the show because it represents British Children's programming at it's finest and most iconic. I'm also a great fan of good television branding which is why my flat is also covered in test card related things and tardises (or is the plural of tardis, tardi?)

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Songs That Get Stuck in Your Head

There are certain songs that no matter how hard we try, they refuse to leave our brains until all our friends have disowned us due to our constant [and in my case terrible] renditions of said songs. At the moment there are three songs in particular that my brain has been playing on repeat and they all happen to have a Cbeebies connection.

Children's programmes, by their very nature, need to have a very strong appeal to their audiences so that they will love them to death, grow up into self respecting members of society and have many drunken nostalgic conversations about the programmes they watched as a child. Those particular conversations will go something along the lines of:

Person A: Wasn't Barney that annoying purple dinosuar?
Person B: Well yes but there was also a cartoon Old English Sheepdog called Barney who had a mouse that lived on top of his head
Person A: I think I vaguely remember it...nowhere near as good as The Poddington Peas though
Person B: OH MY GOD YES, The Poddington Peas was the best kid's programme ever!
Person A and B start singing in unison: Down at the bottom of the garden among the birds and the bees...etc etc.

Music is an integral part of what makes a television programme immortal. Even when the programme has been dead and buried for decades and nobody can remember the character's names or any of the plot lines it doesn't really matter as long as people can still sing the theme tune.

Bearing all of this in mind it's not surprising that if you watch as much of the Cbeebies channel as I do, it shouldn't really come as a surprise when some of the songs get stuck in your head for quite some time. Personally I find that when this happens the best way to rectify the situation is by sharing the offending songs with everyone around, after all a problem shared is an extra problem that somebody else has to deal with on top of all their problems.

So on this bright and sunny day, the gift I give to you is a list of these three songs complete with links and videos because I'm nice like that...enjoy!

Cbeebies Lunchtime Song
Sung by the delightful Andy Day, he asks "WHAT'S ON YOUR PLATE?" This song is guaranteed to get me excited about food every time I hear it.
Listen to it here 

Small Potatoes Theme
Once I have become suitably excited for food and decide to chow down on a spud for lunch  I inevitably get this song stuck in my head...

Time for an Adventure
By far the most annoying song to ever get stuck in my head, I'm not particularly fond of Baby Jake as a programme yet for some reason, every now and then this song decides to imbed itself into my mind for days on end. 
Listen to it if you think you're hard enough

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Brewing Up with Heston

Earlier on this week I was in a little place called Darwen in Lancashire working on Heston Blumenthal's new series for Channel 4. For this particular episode he was celebrating the great British tradition of the tea break.  This involved having Heston arrive perched on a giant tea pot, lowering an enormous tea bag into it which I had spent hours stitching up the day before, and then dunking a child sized chocolate and caramel biscuit into a giant tea cup (the biscuit was literally the same height as a small child). Here are a few photos from the day which were taken by my friend Thomas Glover.

Would you like a biscuit with your tea sir? I'll just call 5 other people over to help me carry it to your table.

Have a break, have a Heston's Dunkgestive.

Mr Blumenthal arrives on the back of a truck accompanied by a giant tea pot

More exciting than the Queen rocking up to the party, at least Heston gives you unlimited cups of tea and biscuits!

And for my next trick...

...I will need some assistance from my rather oversized teabag

What a lovely cuppa

Lets get dunkin'

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Blue Peter's Big Olympic Tour

Last week I was on a bit of a downer after The Children's Media Conference. For a month and a half leading up to it I've had back to back work lined up but nothing set in my diary for afterwards so it got to Thursday and after sending masses and masses of emails all week to people chasing up potential work with no results I was feeling slightly sorry for myself. I watched the lunchtime showing of Neighbours and jumped into the shower before sitting down in front of the laptop once more to pour over all the jobs websites again when two exciting things happened...my phone rang and I got offered a two day job at the end of this week working on Heston Blumenthal's upcoming series then an hour later my phone rang for a second time, this time from a lady at BBC Learning practically begging me to work on Blue Peter's Big Olympic Tour at the weekend which would involve me hopping on a coach with the rest of the BBC Learning crew the very next morning to make our way down to Bournemouth for the big event on Saturday.

I was meant to be going down to see my dad at the weekend in Gloucestershire but obviously you don't turn down such offers (even if they're not paying you for your services) so after doing a bit of grovelling to my dear papa and conveniently forgetting to mention that I was doing this as a labour of love I was officially added to the call sheet which consequently has the Blue Peter ship on the bottom of every page which I got a slightly excited about. Just to put my excitement into context, Blue Peter and Newsround are the two programmes that made me decide that I wanted a career in television in the first place. I was a classic CBBC child growing up and my ultimate goal has always been to one day work on either of those two flagship programmes so it's kind of a big deal for me.

On Friday morning I shoved a few things in a bag and made my way to Manchester Piccadilly Station which is where the coach was departing from, I introduced myself briefly to the few people I had spoken to on the phone the night before and we all set off on a six hour coach trip down to the south coast. As luck would have it, the girl who I met first and sat next to on the coach was put into the same hotel room as me so when we arrived we dumped our stuff and instantly headed towards the beach.

After seeing some rather exciting looking beach huts, paying a grand total of 60 pence for the privilege of walking along the pier (a season ticket cost a whole pound) and watching Twist and Pulse prancing around a stage as the warm up act before the Olympic Torch got there, we decided to get back to our hotel room before heading out to meet the rest of the BBC Learning gang for a lovely meal at Ask where we got to meet the rest of the team properly. Much food and a complimentary glass of wine later, one of the team announced that it was 11.30 already and that maybe we should all go to bed soon seeing as we had a taxi coming to pick us up at 6:50 the next morning to take us to location.

For those of you who don't watch Blue Peter and have never heard of the Big Olympic Tour (shame on you)  I shall fill you in on what goes on during the day...The Blue Peter team go to a different location every week following the Olympic Torch around the country, there's a live outside broadcast that happens at 9am which gets shown on the CBBC Channel and BBC2. Then for the rest of the day there are various events dotted around a field that tie in with the Olympics which is where I came in. I was located in a tent called the My Sports Report tent, which was set up as a little mock studio and aimed to teach the general public about chroma key technology (more commonly known as green screen). The kiddies could try their hand at operating one of the cameras or the vision mixer or they could get on stage and dress up as an Olympian or be a co-presenter. We had some rather interesting kids on stage during the course of the day, one of the co-presenters was the most adorable three year old who as soon as she sat down grabbed the mic and started rambling on about being a ballerina. The biggest challenge was getting the children to form a nice orderly queue and trying to persuade them that being behind the camera or on the vision mixer was just as fun and important in the television making process as being the guest star.

Half way through the day, I accidentally exposed my Blue Peter ship tramp stamp tattoo to the rest of my little team and they were trying to persuade me that it would be a good idea to march over to Barney Harwood (he's one of the presenters) and expose my back to him. I was highly reluctant despite everybody reassuring me that he wouldn't think I'm a crazy mad woman but fortunately for him, the opportunity didn't arise. Besides which I was too excited about wearing my totally beautiful high viz jacket and didn't want to have to pull it up  for no good reason.

All too soon it was time to hop back on the bus and make our way back up to Salford. It was a great honour to work on a Blue Peter event and with the BBC Learning team and I had a lot of fun doing it but my story doesn't end just yet which is where we skip forward to the following Monday. 

My friend has come up for the week and my flatmate has taken some time off work as well. They are both highly nerdy boys and on the bus back to Salford on Saturday I caught wind of the Batmobile making an appearance on the Piazza at MediaCity. With all three of us free to do whatever we like for a week, I dragged them both over there yesterday morning to marvel at it but I wasn't counting on Blue Peter recording a little piece for this week's show. Barney was standing around in the rain right next to this wondrous piece of machinery and I thought I would take the opportunity to do the thing that I was too chicken to do at the weekend. I walked up to him, apologised for interrupting and launched into an abbreviated version of the story  you've just read...then I turned around quickly and flashed my back at him. I'm guessing he was slightly in awe because he asked to take a picture of it which later appeared on twitter. What a result!

Barney's reaction after taking a photo of the best tattoo he's ever likely to see.
nb. I apologise for all the photos that are featured with my back turned to the camera....I'm not a very photogenic person so it's probably for the best.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Children's Media Conference

Last week I trundled over to Sheffield for the 8th annual Children's Media Conference. I'd heard about the conference just after it had finished last year and I still don't know how I hadn't heard about it before seeing as it's almost on my doorstep. Judging by the website it looked like quite an impressive event full of networking opportunities with big shots in the Children's Media industry but the tickets were beyond my budget and I would have to sell an arm, a leg, possibly a few of my teeth and all of my hair to afford a full price ticket with all the trimmings included. Instead I decided to offer my services as a volunteer for the duration of the conference.  I think it was probably the best decision I've made all year. Not only did I get to attend this amazing event for free and have my accommodation, travel and most of my meals paid for me but I also made a lot of fantastic new friends. I also discovered that I have some pretty nifty leadership skills  that had been lying dormant waiting for such an opportunity to arise.

I received an email a few months ago saying I had been designated the role of  Technical Director which sounded quite impressive but I didn't really understand what that would actually involve until I got there for my training the day before the conference started. I soon discovered that I would be put into one of four showrooms to oversee and explain the running order of the individual sessions that took place in my allocated showroom. This meant that I was to blame if everything went horribly wrong or even if something went a little bit wrong....no pressure at all then!

I had two technicians, two runners and up to six speakers in any one session  and half an hour between each session to get everyone out and get a new wave of people in. This meant that I had to ensure all the speakers were miked up asap, that they knew about how tight we had to keep it and that they stopped talking when they should (aided by our wonderful traffic light piece of tech that was placed on their table) and that they read out the house keeping notes at the start and end of their session. I also had to make sure we had the right number of chairs and water bottles on stage, the techies had connected everything they needed to connect and knew the running order of the slides and videos, decide when we were good to start the session, let everybody know that we were starting the session, make sure the opening music was playing and then get the runners to open the doors to let the hoards of people dash in. For the busy sessions (there were a few) I had to make sure that people didn't leave empty chairs in between one another which meant that either myself or one of the braver runners would go down to the stage and ask everybody to shuffle up to the end of the rows. This happened beautifully some of the time and less beautifully at other times. Then there was the Q&A sections where I had to make sure my runners got the mics to the people who wanted to ask questions and then when it all finished I had to make sure everybody got the hell out as soon as possible, do a quick whip round to make sure there was no rubbish left in the isles and then get the next lot in to do it all over again. It was a bit mad but after the second session my smile was less forced and I actually relaxed into the role and by the time we had wrapped at the end of the two days I had been told that I had done a very good job by more than one person.

When I wasn't screaming on the inside and I had clocked off for the day there were the networking parties to attend in the evenings. This mainly involved taking full advantage of the free alcohol that was being forced into my hand at regular intervals, fighting my way into the path of the staff who were making the rounds with the canapé trays, chatting drunkenly to people who had interviewed me the week before for a job that I didn't get and dancing around like a loon to Thriller. It was all good fun...well it was before one of the straps on my dress broke and I had to keep tucking my dress around my bra strap every five seconds so as not to expose myself to the world. Apart from that it was all amazing.

To wrap it up here are a few personal highlights from the event:
  • Meeting Ben Faulks aka Mr Bloom but not realising who he was until half way through my conversation (he does a much better job at disguising himself than Clark Kent ever did)
  • Picking up a business card at the end of one of my sessions that had been dropped on the floor only to find out that it was Ian Prince's business card (he used to be the editor of Newsround back when I was still in the target age range to watch the show without people telling me I should possibly grow up and he is somewhat of a hero of mine. I always thought it was cool that he had a very similar surname to Matthew Price who was one of the presenters at the time). I'm thinking of framing this wondrous piece of cardboard and putting it on the mantelpiece!
  • Having the Head of Cbeebies as one of the speakers in one of my sessions and chatting to her at the end. She is a lovely person and she told me to get in contact with her when she comes back from her holiday in a fortnight.
  • Getting some good hints and tips from people about breaking into regular work as a freelancer at the BBC.
  • Sitting in front of Anna Home at the key note speech thinking that it was such a surreal moment in my life.
  • Realising that a girl who I previously worked with for a big event with CBBC and Cbeebies at the start of the year actually used to live with my ex house mate for three years before she moved in with me...it's a very small world!
  • Meeting some amazing fellow volunteers and making lots of new friends. 

The whole four days I was in Sheffield was such an amazing experience and the city itself is truly beautiful and nothing like how it's portrayed in The Full Monty. I had very little sleep whilst I was there and despite having a rather sticky bathroom floor in my Travelodge room and missing nearly all the tennis matches that Andy Murray won I cannot wait to do it all again next year! 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

At the start of June, my old school chum Fayebe (her actual name is Faye but school nicknames are difficult to shake off) who owns the delightful little blog Cartwheels and Bubbles nominated me for this award. Her blog is full of beautiful and tasty looking things that she has made by her own two hands and it's always a delight to see what she has been up to. I highly recommend taking a gander because it will put you into a deeply happy place.

I'm not entirely sure what being a versatile blogger actually entails, in any case I don't think my blog posts are particularly versatile, I just write about what I'm doing with my life and what I would like to do. The more I try to figure it out the more I liken it to something out of Charlotte's Web, I might start charging people to come around and gaze in awe and wonder at the versatile blogger sitting in the corner but if it means that the campaign to ensure I don't get killed and made into bacon sandwiches works then surely it'll will be a good thing right?

I am normally the one who always breaks chain letters and the such but I've just finished baking a friendship cake (it's like a chain letter but in cake form) and managed to do the next bit in passing it on to people and it was a nice thing to do...plus I got to bake a yummy cake. I now feel I should do some more spreading of the love and I am determined to not be the person who lets this die. Now I've accepted my responsibility these are the things I have to do:

Nominate 15 fellow bloggers who are relatively new to blogging
Let them know that you have nominated them
Share 7 random facts about yourself
Thank the bloggers that have nominated you
Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your blog post


Below is my highly comprehensive list of super awesome blogs that you should definitely check out (I could only think of nine though):

This is my bible to working in the TV industry as well as....

I would probably still be in Chester going nowhere with my life if it wasn't for this blog

 My little chum who I've worked with on a number of jobs. She's done very well for herself and is a fantastic person...give her some love!

A very talented young lady who is going many places

She was a runner who sat opposite me when I did work experience at CBBC many moons ago and now look at her! 

A guide to lots of yummy things in Manchester

These guys are more obsessed than I am and for that I applaud them

My ex housemate's blog about issues facing the gay community

My cousin's blog about moving to and living in Melbourne, all his photos make me highly jealous!


Here are seven chosen random facts about myself:

1. I have the Blue Peter ship tattooed onto my back.
2. Nearly 10 years ago I decided it would be a good idea to audition for Pop Idol wearing just my underwear...I was 17 at the time.
3. My first celebrity crushes were Richard O'Brien and Andi Peters.
4. Neighbours is my favourite thing on telly in the whole history of telly. Some days it's the only thing I talk about.
5. I hadn't been to the dentist for 8 years until last week.
6. I have a birthmark on the sole of my left foot (I thought I would tell you this just in case you are ever asked to identify me in a morgue or something).
7. I like a man with a bum chin, bum chins are sexy!

So that's pretty much me. Thanks again to Fayebe for nominating me, I shall treasure this award until I win a BAFTA.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Interviews, Coffee and Networking

I promised myself some time off when I got back from the Championsheeps and despite my temping agency trying desperately to get me to work odd weeks here and there I've stuck to my word and turned down the irrelevant job offers. Now before you start thinking this is a really stupid idea (I am still in two minds about agreeing with you) I should add that I have had a flurry of interviews and networking things to attend.

Last week I had an interview to work in the art department on a very exciting sounding feature film. That was  on the Tuesday and seeing as I am very new to working in the art department and have only worked on the Hollyoaks promo before as a set dresser I suddenly had to dash around Manchester trying to put together a portfolio the day before the interview with only two decent photos to add to it. Plus it was the first portfolio I've constructed since I did A Level Art so the man who was interviewing me probably was thinking "what a bloody joke"...I know I certainly was! So that was last Tuesday and I still haven't had an answer about that job despite a few texts and phone calls trying to chase up an answer. 

On Thursday there was a networking doo at one of the buildings in MediaCity. It's called the Greenhouse and it's where a nice assortment of small indie production companies and other small businesses live. On my way there I went via the Blue Peter Garden and was delighted to discover that someone has erected a little cage type dome thing that goes over the pond and there are real live fish happily swimming around in there now. Getting back to the reason I was there (well apart from all the cupcakes, ice cream and macaroons I was promised) the networking event was very well put together. They had the advantage of all their tenants being in their own offices so it was easy to navigate and target the companies that you actually wanted to introduce yourself to. I came away from it feeling that I made some very useful contacts.

Last Saturday there was a cider festival happening in the centre of Manchester. This had been in my diary for months as I have been moaning rather regularly about the lack of decent cider that's been missing from my life whilst going out and about since I moved here. I come from a little village in the depths of Gloucestershire and down there they feed it to us before we progress onto solids so cider is something that is very dear to my heart. Originally it was going to be just my flatmate and I attending but two days before this most wondrous and hallowed event I tweeted about it and then all of a sudden somehow it became a mini networking afternoon/evening for people who I've worked with in the industry and people who I'd like to work with in the future...the power of Twitter hey!

On Monday I had a big scary but mega exciting interview at the BBC for a job in the indie acquisitions team in the Children's department and for the first time ever at a BBC interview my brain didn't turn to mush and I was giving coherent answers to questions that in the past I have just fallen flat on my face with before I've even had a chance to get any words out of my mouth. Obviously my plan that I came up with in November actually worked, which was to move as close to MediaCity as possible so that I could change my perception of the BBC from the mystical fantasy palace where all my dreams and wishes would magically come true yet when invited to an interview would not feel I am worthy of working in such an awesome place - to - a nice company that I'd quite like to work for. I'm not sure if I have the job yet or not but the interviewers said as we were wrapping up that I gave a very strong interview (I was waiting for the but...) so I guess that's a result in itself. They promised to let me know by the end of the week so they have roughly a day and an hour and half to keep that promise. 

I had a coffee date on Tuesday with a little chum of mine who I work with on Dickinson's Real Deal and then yesterday morning I went for an interview at an indie company who specialise in commercials who are looking for freelance art department people, production assistants and runners (I took my newly made portfolio and flashed my two photos from the Hollyoaks promo at them) and then another coffee date in the afternoon with a relatively newly formed indie company that I've built up a nice little relationship up with on Twitter. It was a way of introducing ourselves to each other and putting a face to the tweets but we ended up have a good natter for about an hour! Next week I'm off to Sheffield to volunteer at the Children's Media Conference and then I get back on Friday and volunteer over the weekend down at the BBC for Give an Hour

So my plan to take some time off hasn't really been any less manic than if I had been working, and much more so than if I had agreed to sit on a reception with no way of furthering my career or stimulating my brain cells. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Championsheeps Live at Whipsnade Zoo

Over half term I journeyed down to Whipsnade Zoo (it's near Luton) to work on a crazy but oh so awesome family event put on by a bunch of lovely people at SGA Productions in association with Aardman for Shaun the Sheep's Championsheeps. Trying to describe this event is quite a challenge but I shall try my very best. There were 6 different games that were adaptations to games that you would find at your average village fate/school sports day. We had a Naughty Pig Sack Race where the sacks had piggy bodies painted onto them and the contestants had to wear pig masks whilst people standing at the sides were encouraged to throw "fluffy poo" at them. We also had a coconut shy type welly wangling competition where people had to try to knock the farmer's heads off the scarecrows (pictured below).

There was also an egg and spoon race where you had a lot of chickens sat on baskets and you had to find chicks and eggs underneath the hens and distribute them into various coops and other baskets. We also had "sheep hopper" games and and cabbage throwing games and giant sheep rolling games and plasticine modelling and aerobics classes where we had to dance around like loons to S Club 7 for 15 minutes every hour. We were there for 10 days in total, including the weekends and Jubilee bank holidays. It rained lots and there were gale force winds and the giant inflatable sheep nearly blew away and we had to clear up animal dug from the roaming animals who had been trying out our race track during the night. On the other hand I essentially got paid to have a lot of fun. I love working with kiddies and there were certainly loads of them about.

I decided to hire a car for the duration of the job because I thought better of trying to navigate public transport during weekends/bank holidays. This I discovered was a very good idea. For those of you who don't know me personally, I haven't driven a car for four years due to mainly not having enough money to fund a car of my own. I'm not going to lie to you, before I picked up my little Peugeot 107 I was petrified. I was concerned about forgetting which pedals do what and navigating roundabouts and overtaking on duel carriageways during rush hour. When the man at the car hire place at Luton airport handed over the keys I walked out to the car thinking "why on earth did he just do that????" and I spent a good 10 minutes checking the mirrors were all pointing in the right place before setting off. It turns out however that the cliché "it's just like riding a bike" is actually true...albeit a rather large bike with four wheels, a roof and a motor.  By the end of the contract I was seriously tempted to drive back to Manchester in it.

So that's what I have been up to since the last time I posted. It has been a mad whirlwind of a ride and I would do it all again in a heartbeat! 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Hollyoaks Enchanted Forest Promo

At the start of this month I somehow managed to get myself working on the latest Hollyoaks promo and not just as a runner but as a set dresser, you know like a proper person's role where you get more exciting tasks to do than fetching tea for people who are too lazy/busy to do it themselves. I'm not quite sure how it all came about to be honest, I think a bit of shamelessly plugging myself on Twitter and Linkedin helped but to cut a long story short I was head hunted by a lovely lady called Emma Carroll who owns her own prop house in Manchester. She got in contact with me and asked if I wanted to be a set dresser on a Hollyoaks promo and obviously I said yes.

We were filming in a wood in Formby (just north of Liverpool) and it was the craziest and most exciting two days of my life. I have never worked on such a large production. As we pulled up at Unit Base on the first morning, there was a rather large car park packed full with vans and lorries and then at the location base we took up a whole field with other vehicles. There was a carousel and catering vans and huge marquees to eat in and coffee vans that made real coffee and golf buggies with trailers to lug all our gear on to set. The call sheet went on for nine pages and it was just a never ending list of names and contact numbers. This is how I always imagined what working in Hollywood must be like, not a one minute trailer for Hollyoaks!

If you haven't seen it yet watch it now and then I shall carry on with my tale...

So I was a key player in dressing the first scene with the tents and the bluebells, the smashed up living room scene, the lit up tent scene and I spent a good three hours or more in a field planting all of those poppies, buttercups and wild parsnips on my own. I had people walking their dogs commenting on the fact that they got very confused as they had never noticed poppies in that field before, that is until they spotted me hiding behind a clump of grass forcing them into the ground. I thought that if I could fool the locals into thinking they were real then surely that can only be a good thing...some of them even suggested I should leave them in after we had finished because the field looked much prettier than it did before.

There were about eight people in the art department alone and I loved working with every single one of them. We made a nice little happy family and they were all highly professional with so much vision yet so down to earth and they accepted me straight away and just let me get on with the things I was doing. The food from the catering van was possibly some of the nicest meals I've ever eaten and although we were on set for over 17 hours on the day we were shooting (we also had a day to prep the sets and a day to take it all down again) we always had enough food in our bellies to keep us going.

I can't begin to put into words just how much of an amazing experience the whole thing was. Not just being on the set of something as huge and visually stunning as this but to actually be dressing the sets for it as well was something that was just one big pipe dream for me up until very recently. The day after we wrapped I think I was awake for a total of six hours. I woke up at around 2pm to find that I physically couldn't move as all the muscles in my body had seized up, I went into the living room to say hello to my flatmate, had some breakfast, had a long hot soak in the bath and then fell asleep on my bed again with my towel still wrapped around me. It was a gorgeous day and I managed to miss all of it! Personally I'm not into running or going to the gym (you really don't need to be if you work in this industry) but I can only compare it to how it must feel to finish a marathon. You're physically and mentally exhausted, your body feels like it will never work again but you really can't beat that rush of pride and achievement.

For more news on this promo and to see a behind the scenes video (that features more of my poppy field and other exciting things) go to the Hollyoaks Blog. I also fully intend to put up some photos either this evening or sometime tomorrow so be sure to check back soon!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Carry on Temping

I'm at a tricky stage in my freelancing career where I'm starting to get my name known by production companies in the North West and people are asking for my assistance on set and in the production office. Unfortunately the jobs aren't for long enough periods for me to pack in my temping-on-the-side just yet. The trouble is I get bored easily when I'm not working and also slightly panicky so if a temping agency phones me during a quiet period asking me to work I will instantly say yes.

At the moment I'm in a period where I'm temping for a couple of weeks to tide me over until I journey down near Luton for 10 days to run around Whipsnade Zoo with a bunch of overly excitable kids as part of an event put on by the guys from Aardman (read more about that here). Originally this temping contract was only going to be for a couple of days which is exactly what I wanted but then it got extended and extended some more and now I'm here for a whole 3 and a half weeks (and dashing around the country on Saturdays to work on Dickinson's Real Deal). I do this until the 30th May then I travel down south on the 31st, pick up a hire car and work for 10 days solidly missing all the Jubilee bank holidays as I go. It works out that I have just 5 days off in the period between 3rd May - 10th June whereas most people with normal jobs will have had a total of 15.

I need to get me some of these mittens made by Jennifer Westwood
I'm not complaining and I wouldn't have it any other way. It's really nice to be busy but what started as temping for a few days to stop my brain from shutting down completely between freelancing jobs has snowballed out of control and I'm left feeling that perhaps I should start saying no to these pesky temping agencies that phone me up to work all the time. The major down side is that I've had three production companies phone me in the meantime asking if I can do ad hoc days of work with little to no notice (one phoned me up at 09:40 one morning asking if I could be in Liverpool by 11am!) and I've have had to turn them all down due to me not keeping myself available for such eventualities. If the work had been longer than a day I would obviously pack in my temping job in a flash but this particular agency has been very good to me in the past and the people I'm working with at the moment are all very lovely. I'm always the first person they ask for when they need a spare pair of hands so I don't want to piss them off by leaving them stranded because they will just go out and find another favourite temp and when I'm going through another dry work patch they won't be there to help me out with my rent and my bills and more importantly fuel my alcohol and cigarette addictions.

When I finish my manic working stint in a month's time I'm having a week off and bumming around London for a bit. Hopefully by the end of this spell I will have sorted myself out and shall rise to greet the dawning of a new era...in which my tv and temping work come together in a great and glorious future!*

* Obviously I would rather be in a position where I can ditch the temping altogether, I just really wanted to throw a Lion King reference in there.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

My First Ever Invoice

On Friday I created my first ever invoice for actual paid work within the industry. I almost feel like an adult who trades her services for a monetary value or something ridiculous like that and it feels absolutely bloody a-maze-ing! After four years of earning very little in this industry I was beginning to think that being able to make a living from working in the biz was a complete and utter myth. Now I have a bit of paper (which is hopefully the first of many) to tell me that it can actually be done. I think I might even frame it and put it up on the wall.

As super temp of the century (these are other people's words, not mine) I have seen and churned out a fair few invoices in my time. It is a boring and monotonous job and not very fun at all, especially when you get to see how much companies charge for their services in comparison to how much they give you in return for being their slave girl. However, when you're creating invoices for yourself, it is a rather daunting but exhilarating task, especially if it's on the back of your first properly paid freelancing gig within the industry you actually want to work in. Anything could go wrong, you're calculations could be out so you double and triple check just to be on the safe side whilst all the time thinking "I can't believe I'm actually being paid a decent wage for this". Then there's the issue of how to plan your referencing system. Even in my long and wonderful years of admin based roles, most of the time I just have to make do with whatever referencing system is already in place but when you have to start one from scratch it's a whole different story. Then there's the layout to think about and the potential typos to avoid and the formal business lingo you have to adhere to and a million and one other things that you've never really worried too much about before when churning out invoices but when it becomes personal then it can take hours to do just the one.

So now my first ever invoice has been typed up and sent off and I feel a little throb of victory coursing through my veins at the whole process. All I need to do now is wait to be paid and then have a nice long chat to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs about how to deal with tax and National Insurance issues which I am not looking forward to. Things like that confuse the hell out of me and I'm just very glad that it just so happens that my first paid solo freelancing gig happened after April and not before.