Last Wednesday saw me landing one of my most lucrative and prestigious commissions to date. Over the next three months I will be reviewing 130 restaurants. This solves the immediate problem of where my next bit of beetroot is going to come from, and a longer term problem of where my next bit of money is going to come from. I highlight this most lucrative and prestigious commission to date not because I want to showboat, but because it provides an insight, however slight, into the life of a freelance journalist.
Last May saw me approach the editor of the food publication in question offering my skills as a reviewer. I pointed out that although I hadn’t reviewed a restaurant before, I had spent a couple of years trudging up and down the country reviewing estate agents (true) and if I could make an estate agency review lively and gripping, went my argument, imagine – just imagine – what I could do with a restaurant. And so began months of negotiations and a lot of begging on my behalf, before, finally, last Wednesday I found myself smoothing the editor in person and being offered the commission.
This made me happy. I swanned around London with copies of the magazine and my printed out brief which I conspicuously read on the tube. I know what you’re thinking, I thought to myself as people peered over at my brief, you’re thinking that I’m a restaurant reviewer. Well, I am. And I’m going to go home now, after you’ve had one more peek at my writer’s guidelines, and I’m going to get to work on this lucrative and prestigious commission as I only have three months in which to conduct these 130 reviews and, well, I can get a bit distracted sometimes.
Last Thursday saw me curled up on the floor watching Balls of Fury. ‘Why?’ I thought to myself. After months agonising over whether or not I would get this commission, why, on my very first day of doing the work, am I curled up on the floor watching Balls of Fury? Why am I on the floor? And why have they made Balls of Fury? Who thought it was a good idea? Is it the work of some embittered ex-hack who thought that Balls of Fury is exactly the sort of film that could tip a freelance journalist over the edge after landing his most lucrative and prestigious commission to date? Because it nearly did.
It nearly did, but it didn’t. Thankfully, I’ve become tougher over the last few months and the booze and nicotine which just about hold me together worked their magic and this morning – on a Sunday – saw me start my restaurant reviewing career. Swings and roundabouts, it seems. Fucking swings and shitting roundabouts.