I’ve been at Shooting Gazette for two and a half years this month, and so far, when I’ve been reporting out in the field things have gone more or less according to plan. Last weekend’s trip to the north west tip of Anglesey was no different, but I must say that I’ve tripped myself up a few times too. So, what’s my advice to anyone hoping to carve a career as a sporting writer? Here are some of the faux pas I’ve committed in the past. Learn from me, please.
Before setting off, make sure that if you are using a Sat Nav, you know that it’s on the right setting. Why did I go clockwise around Birmingham from Stamford to get to Anglesey when I could have just cut across Melton towards Kegworth and the A50? Fool.
When using a car, take a CD of your favourite recording artist, an audio book or choose a radio station which is broadcasting a sports event like a football match. (Listening to commercial radio DJs for five hours almost led me to turn around at the Severn Bridge before I drove off it).
Take a strong drink from your host once you arrive.
Make as much conversation with your host/fellow guns as you can as soon as you arrive, the nerves will fall off you like a poorly made suit. Make sure you are also not wearing such a garment.
Trust your host’s directions – they know the area better than you. Why do laps of the village when someone with a torch is waving you in?
Refuse the offer of more than one glass of 1966 port. You won’t be seeing it again, silly.
Constantly check that the tape recorder and camera are fully charged when you know they are, and have been for an hour.
Forget to call the good lady to let her know you are there safe. You know why.
Say no to an extra sausage at the break – they will be calling at you through the tin all the way through the rest of the day. Sometimes late at night I can still hear them stewing.
Make a complete idiot of yourself when alighting from the gun bus. You’re not in the army, so why the SAS style leap?