Apologies, in advance, for the following rant. It’s probably not interesting to anyone but me.
Strange day at work. Some asshole, and I’m pretty sure I know who it is, and pretty sure they’ll be reading this, has some kind of grudge and doesn’t like the fact that I get paid to write reviews for the HDM. As if I shouldn’t get paid for divulging my expert depth of knowledge of theatre. No one else in that building knows as much about theatre as me. If it weren’t for me, the only theatre venues that would get covered on a regular basis would be Hull Truck and Hull New Theatre, because no one will travel to Scarborough, York, Leeds and elsewhere for long for nothing. The HDM are shit payers. Let’s get this straight. I get paid 20 quid, a paltry 20 quid, for doing a review for the HDM. That makes them the worst payer of any ‘freelance’ gig I’ve ever had. For that, they want a review of 350-400 words, making their word rate a rather laughable £50 per 1,000 words. They pay me no expenses. I do it because it’s an extra £20 on top of the fee that someone else pays me. That someone else also pays me the expenses I incur to travel to these venues. If some other lunatic – and that’s what it would take – would like a slice of that shit-tasting, very small pie, help yourselves, suckers. You won’t get rich, that’s for sure. I do it cos I love the theatre. There’s certainly no kudos to be earned from writing for the HDM.
Apparently, an anonymous note (more on my theories on that one soon enough) was passed on pointing out that I have the monopoly on reviews of regional theatres. I don’t. I’m the only person that ever offers to do them. I was asked to do them because, miracle upon miracles, someone recognised that I already wrote about the theatre. And offered money because, crikey, someone else realised what a ballsache it would be to turn out more than one review. I’ve also been accused of supplying identical reviews to different publications, which does me an absolute disservice and is total shite. This ‘note’ also pointed out that I post them on my website. And this website is, apparently, a place where I advertise my services as a freelance journo. Yeah, right, cos that’s how I get my freelance gigs. I never have the initiative to contact commissioning editors, build up a relationship with magazines and newspapers and work freelance because I’ve got a good reputation for delivering clean, interesting copy, eh?
At last, after numerous attempts to get recognised, the editor of the HDM has become aware that other people pay me to write. Something of a miracle, albeit one that he reminded me was in breach of my contract. I was aware of this. I wrote under various pen names for other publications for about 18 months before I opted to antagonise people and get a reaction by dropping the guise. Surprised it took so long!
After pondering on things, I’m now of the opinion that the ‘anonymous note’ never really existed. I fear that some poor, sad, individual with too much time on their hands and a deluded desire to get somewhere within the company (hey, there aren’t too many of those people, are there? ooh, I’m getting warm now) felt the need to put me in my place. How laughable. And I ain’t so dumb. Like I said, I’m pretty certain I know who they are because, in these pre-Worst Seat in the House promotional activity days, I’ve not made too much song and dance about my website presence and only a select few people are aware of it. Yes, you should be worried, you Dave Windass-obsessed freak (shock thought, maybe it was me that wrote the note!)
As for reviewing for the HDM, I’m currently pondering on asking for more money – my words of wisdom are definitely worth it – and also suggesting that they only have first rights use for the reviews, which is all any other title I do stuff for gets, thus allowing me to post what the hell I like on my website. Or just not bothering to do them anymore and smiling with self-satisfaction as they return to the dark days of no regional reviews. Odd how Newsquest titles seem to have a more serious attitude towards the arts and see the value of traveling a little bit further than the theatre across the road, isn’t it? Now, is the HDM a serious newspaper or isn’t it? Does it mean business in every area that it covers or does it always want to be laughed at? Must it always let its talented writers slip through its hands in an effort to show who’s boss?
Must remember to ask to see this ‘note’ on Monday. It will be interesting to see the response to such a request.