Saturday, July 14, 2007

Why aliens make rubbish journalists

**** me. Who would have thought. So according to this paper ( click to enlarge), I was versed in the codes of computer and online language to take this end of first year exam in 1986.

I'd never have guessed. Chemistry was a searing passion, actually a poor substitute if you asked my father who needed a medic in the house and since I'd been pummeling the Sciences for the last five years, this was to be my calling.

Our Head of Department and lecturer, one David West, was the stuff of chemistry legends; a dry wit, often dour and the ability to expose the imposters who rather than crack Sn2 nucleophillic pathways the night before, had their head stuck up hedonism.

"What, er really... about that much"?, was my reply, when he asked.

"Mr Gyimah, you should be spending 3-5 hours a night on your books".

That was after the 9-5, 36 hour regime of Physical, Organic, Inorganic Chemistry and Maths. "Er yes about three and a half hours that's how much I'm spending". Crock a lies.

Computer language circa 1986 was understanding conditions and the logic of mapping out a request. Type in your name here. If it matches go to... If it does match, loop and go back to the name again. Simple in principle but a test of stern logic.

The bulk of us chem students were sooooo, how do you say: SQUARE. And having three years earlier arrived fully minted from an eight year protracted holiday ( some holiday) in Ghana, I was beyond square, a polygon mess of ideas and rationale.

My A levels which were supposed to get me into medicine or another substitute Chemical Engineering had been a moronic failure, though I did spend the previous year at South Bank University for a month reading Chemical Engineering, but the class was too big and unwieldy and the lecturer's voice didn't project.

Yep what a reason to turn your back for a year on further education.

By the time I'd applied and been accepted by Royal Holloway Bedford and some other, I'd thrown a crumb of crisps onto a map to see how far I could get away from London.

Leicester it was then. Another certainty was a burning desire to break from the yoke of something I had to do against something I wanted to do.

Journalism was a strong draw. The embers of my first piece for my college mag on the Neutron Bomb some five years earlier were still smouldering. But now then, how do you become a journalist? Those I saw on the television and newspapers had pointy heads and double barrel names.

Come to think of it they were the mirror of the alchemists of the science world; the one I occupied, but the two couldn't be so far apart, electrons on different valencies.

How do you become a journalist and what do they do?

With what could be described as an African lilt to my accent, I would later discover any chance of a broadcast career was so out of the question. But the college mag became my lab and in time I was bold enough to enquire about helping out at our local BBC station, where one afternoon a junior minister literally gave me the break, and not one I'll ever forget, that would ruin any pretence of a career. Robert Jackson was a junior education minister in the Thatcher government. More famed for his quip about explosives in his luggage at the airport, he would be one of Thatcher's martryes.

Some protestor pelted him with eggs when he arrived and I was on campus to cover it, with my alleged African lilt. Trouble is I ran out of tape at the crucial period. I now know the reason why I can shoot to edit in videojournalism without waste.

Next day during lecturers I had inadvertently soared to the heights of mini celebrity amongst my closest friends. Barely out of nappies in training, a second piece reared its head. Douglas Hurd, then Home Sec was in the area.

They must have been muttering, that is the editiors, "Try not and **** up this time". So guess what I did.

"Dear boy, how long have you been doing this?" The reel to reel tape in my uher had dropped and unspun all the way across the length of the floor. By now Sir Douglas' aides bemused, perhaps almost in hysterics were waiting patiently for this Journalist ( small letters) to stop doing his impression of Hansel and Gretel.

From then on chemistry and this thing called journalism would lay side by side rarely touching each other, until one day I got the biggest shock I could recieve at such an impressionable age and stage in my career. I discovered I was black.

. . . . to be continued

( from David's scribbled mind-book: Why Aliens Make Rubbish Journalists)

No comments: