For many years my work as a freelance journalist was mostly for women’s magazines, writing about relationships. All kinds of relationships so as well as couples this included families, friendships and work colleagues. I didn’t set out to be a relationship writer or expert – specialising in what’s known in the trade as “emotionals”. It’s simply the work I was most often asked to do and so I ended up specialising in it. This included a spell as a Relate counsellor and agony aunt.
About ten years ago I moved away from magazines back to newspapers where I’d begun my journalistic career. This mostly involved writing for the Guardian on a variety of issues which included work, money, technology, family, health and opinion pieces. I wrote for other papers too. Links to some of my pieces are below.
Alongside the magazine and newspaper work, I’ve also been a broadcaster on BBC Five Live, The Jeremy Vine Radio 2 show and BBC Radio Wales and Scotland. Also BBC Radio Stoke and a variety of local BBC radio stations. There have been a couple of stints on TV too but I prefer radio. Why? Because when you’re on the radio, no one comments on your hair entirely ignoring what you’re actually saying! That said, I do have lovely hair and any compliment about my appearance at my age is hugely valued!
My articles have been sold around the world and I’ve been published in more than 22 countries. I sell very well in South Africa, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Thailand. Also sold in all the Scandinavian countries, Taiwan, Brazil, Nigeria, Canada and the US. Wherever there are women’s magazines published, chances are they’ve run an article, or several, by me.
Lately I’ve taken to writing fiction and my first short story was sold to Take a Break Fiction Feast. After years dealing in facts, it’s great fun just to make stuff up. This is only, for the moment, a sideline but we’ll see if it becomes a more mainstream part of my income. I certainly hope so. Writing and selling fiction is a lovely way to earn a living.
I am now moving more into communications consultancy and advising various clients on how to boost their media profiles. This involves writing website copy, tweeting for them, pitching articles on their behalf to trade and national press, writing newsletters, copywriting and even a spot of media training! I went into this work because I was approached by several organisations and asked to do it. After 30 years as a journalist, it was wonderful to discover I have something called “transferable skills” and with everyone now facing a much longer working life than we maybe once anticipated, it’s good to find a new line.
The work is enjoyable, well paid and interesting. I undertook lots of really great assignments in 2012. There were two I particularly enjoyed. One was visiting reading groups in prisons which I covered for the Arts and Humanities Research Council. And the other truly fascinating project I was privileged to visit and write about was the Men in Sheds health initiative which I wrote about for my client NHS North West for its Help Equality Library Portal (HELP).
I’ve also become something of a go-to person for case study work. Most recently this has involved interviewing students studying with the Open University, a truly fascinating piece of work. Every story was different; everyone had their own unique study journey and it was lovely talking to them about it.
I also carried out extensive case study work for NHS North West writing about a campaign to increase the diversity of the workforce.
If you’re interested in my full working history, do pleases check out my LinkedIn profile which gives a comprehensive list of every major job I’ve ever had. Even if you aren’t interested in hiring me or commissioning my services, it is, if I say so myself – and I do! – a fascinating slice of social history. Do please take a look.
Here are some links to my work that’s appeared online:-
My Guardian pieces are all on my profile on the paper’s website.
The piece of which I am most proud is the one I wrote about mental illness It’s worse than a criminal record I was especially chuffed when this was bought for a school textbook as I never shone at school.
Then last year, I finally plucked up the courage to write about something I’ve wanted to highlight for a very long time. What it’s like growing up poor in a rich area. The kind of hidden poverty George Bernard Shaw referred to as genteel poverty. The article that resulted from this was called We had to hide from the tally man and it appeared in Guardian Family. Received lots of lovely accolades for that.
I was also very pleased to have a piece in The Independent a few years about about how Eighties-style bonkbusters are making a comeback.
The piece for which I still get emails more than ten years after it appeared is this piece in the Guardian about the joys of childlessness. Back in 2002 I advised Charles and Camilla in the Observer that in the name of love, they should not get married. They ignored me and three years later, they walked up the aisle! Well good for them! Middle-aged love and marriage is a wonderful thing to behold.