Why I stopped working for Alexander Nix: Part Three

n.b. In a breathtakingly daring move, it appears that I’ve leapt straight from, ‘Why I stopped working for Alexander Nix: Part One,’ to, ‘Why I stopped working for Alexander Nix: Part Three.’ This is (somewhat) explained down there a bit. But even though we’re not at part two, we are at least somewhere. Usually on here when I write “Updates to follow,” or “Next time I am going to be writing about this, this and this,” the updates don’t follow and we never get to hear about the this-es. So this is something, at least. 

When the Cambridge Analytica/Alexander Nix scandal (properly) broke early last week and was the lead item on BBC News at Six, I was sitting in my Nan’s living room with my Nan and my Mum.

“LOOK, LOOK, LOOK” I said to them, drowning out the opening clangs of the BBC News, “THAT’S Alexander Nix. THAT’S who I used to WORK for.”

I’m not sure my Nan believed me. I’m not sure my Nan thinks I’ve worked for anyone.

Then, a few minutes later:

“…and we now go over to our North American technology reporter Dave Lee…””

“I KNOW HIM TOO – Dave Lee. He reads Pitching the World.”

My Nan reached for her phone book and started to turn to the page marked, “NUMBER FOR STEVE’S SECTIONING”

“Oh, this is big,” I said. “And weird. Big and weird – and check out what I’m reading.”

I went into the kitchen and fished out of my bag the book I wanted them to check out.

“Look – The Nix.  This is big and weird. Not the book, the news.”

Most of the above is true. It’s true that I did find it all a bit big and a bit weird. It’s true about Dave Lee and working for Alexander Nix, too. The bit about my Nan having a page in her phone book marked, “NUMBER FOR STEVE’S SECTIONING” is (probably) not true. And I am reading The Nix. I’ve even got the book with me now, see:


That book and this post, earlier. 

So I was a little heady last week. Let’s be honest, I’m a little heady every week. To deal with these headiness I sought some kind of sanctuary in Pitching the World and wrote, “Why I stopped working for Alexander Nix: Part One,” and (somewhat) promised a part two. On Tuesday I sat around and tried to write that part two but flapped up. I tried again yesterday and flapped up some more. For example, yesterday I wrote stuff like this:

But it turns out that I am worse at leaving companies than I am at whistle-blowing because, a short while after coming back to London, I started working for them again. After slinking off, I slunk back. Some moral conviction that was. But SCL Group did plenty of well-grounded, interesting and socially benign work and I liked (and still like) doing this kind of work and was happy to work on a per-project basis. But after a while I ended up quitting again. Then I went back. This little pattern, this moral-dance, continued for a while. For a couple of years I periodically freelanced for them, mainly writing copy. Then, a couple of years after St Kitts, I went back to work directly for Alexander Nix: I started work on Monday morning, went to the pub for lunch on Wednesday afternoon, had a raft of pints, took my drinking to the park, turned off my phone for two days, and never went back.

And I also wrote stuff about finding Alexander Nix being “funny, engaging company” and said that although he used to be part-monster (we all are), in the years since I stopped working for him he appears to have transitioned to, well, if not quite full-monster then something pretty close. And yet, I wrote yesterday, when I used to know him he was involved in “a lot of good work.” He also got me a job writing for £3 a word.

I know: far out.

This aborted part two read like something I would have written had Alexander Nix tied me up in his basement, surrounded me with remote-controlled cat bombs, and was whispering in my ear, “Write that I was funny and engaging company and that I was involved in a lot of good work otherwise I’m detonating these cat bombs.”

And that’s not quite what I wanted. What I really wanted to say was that I stopped working for companies and people like that because I wanted to concentrate on writing things that helped people. But despite this being true, in the intervening years I’ve catastrophically failed: granted, I’ve written a handful of things that I’m proud of, but the bulk of my published work has been throwaway, morally-neutral, unimportant puff.

So where does that leave us? I suppose in one sense it leaves us here, at Pitching the World. This project is actually one of the few things I am proud to have done and from a number of messages I’ve had, it has actually helped people. One editor, who I later worked for, said that reading about the break up of my marriage on here actually enabled him to deal with his divorce better. So that’s something. And a number of people have contacted me saying that by presenting myself in a fizzy, haphazard, often lazy way they feel better about their fizzy, haphazard laziness. So I suppose that’s something, too.

Something, but not enough. Updates to follow.




2 responses to “Why I stopped working for Alexander Nix: Part Three

  1. It’s really ace to have you back, Pitchy. The world is not the same without you. You and your sporadic moral dancing. Which is quite an image. I’m holding out for part 4…

  2. Good to have you here, Emma Seymour Hypnotherapist and Coach. Don’t be remotely surprised if part four comes out after part five, or part two comes out next or, let’s face it, no more parts come out of anywhere. But also don’t be surprised if they do.

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