Giving it some Welly

The best thing about Dave Welford is he’ll make you feel like sh*t. On a stressful newsday it might seem like he’s routinely belittling, disgracing and degrading you in front of all your peers, but really it’s all because he cares. Honest.
My clearest Welly memory is being called into the office for a rollicking. Dave could barely contain the Welling laughter – hold on, he couldn’t – as he delivered the parting gambit ‘and stop taking so many drugs’.

Legend: Rob with Quincy Jones.

Legend: Rob with Quincy Jones.

Never mind the fact that the most illegal thing I’d done that year was driving without a wing mirror.
But all that ritual humiliation – that wry, distinctly Northern dryness – comes from a very loving place. He balls you out because he wants you to do better.

It sounds like a cliché, and it is. But by constantly reminding you of your faults, fallacies and failings – you’re left with the classic sink/swim decision. And it’s no secret that in the cut-throat, underhand, underpaid and malnourished profession of journalism, a thick skin comes in the job description.

So really, it’s no great lie to say, without Welford’s seemingly pitiless attacks on my work, conduct and personality, I wouldn’t be where I am today. (Assuming I didn’t meet an equally hardened, bitter, ex-hack on whatever other course I might have landed on – but really that seems unlikely: Dave’s menace is one of a kind).
And where exactly am I today?

As Dave will no doubt have told you, it’s sick kids, celebs (‘off the Telly’) and fluffy animals that sell papers. Or used to when people still bought papers, anyway.

Name-dropper: Rob interviews Martin Sheen.

Name-dropper: Rob interviews Martin Sheen.

After dabbling in the former and latter during three years in local news (Eastern Daily Press and Croydon Advertiser), it’s the rich and famous I’ve been hob-knobbing of late, or so I’m meant to have you believe.
So let the name-dropping begin.
Celebrities I have had the pleasure of interviewing include:
Martin Sheen. Noel Gallagher. Nick Clegg. Jeremy Paxman. Herbie Hancock. Gary Rhodes. Carlos Santana. Quincy Jones. Alistair Campbell. Johnny Marr. John Cleese. 50 Cent. Jeffrey Archer. Bill Wyman. Fatboy Slim. Geoff Hurst…. I could go on – the names would just get less familiar.

And why me? Aside from the three core values of talent, tenacity and bloody-hard-work that all embittered journos will bite your ear off with – location (location, location…).
Close to three years ago I hopped on a plane to the Middle East, on what was little more than a whim or a month’s notice, to take a role as the music & nightlife editor at Time Out Dubai. What can I say? It was October at the time, and – compared to another winter of doorstops and death knocks on dreary, drizzly Croydon evenings – it seemed like a gamble worth taking.

And for me, it was. As well as notching numerous name-drops, less than two years into my desert stint I was promoted to Time Out’s online editor, and despite the initial, understandable reservations many have about the region, I’m in no hurry to leave.

So, in case you missed them among all the pomposity and over-alliteration, there are two lessons one might take away from this post:
a) When Dave is being mean, he loves you really.
b) If journalism jobs are half as hard find as last time I checked Gorkana, just remember that there really are great opportunities awaiting abroad, if you’re prepared to take a stab in the dark.
You can read some of my work at my (not quite finished) website, here:


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