I say goodbye to my dread(ful)locks…

Once a year, my hair gets so long that I regularly chew it while trying to speak. At this point, most normal people would get it cut, but I’m usually too broke/indifferent to do this, so I tend to continue ignoring the increasingly knotted mass on top of my head until my face is almost wholly obscured.

Eventually, I accept defeat and book myself a hair appointment. Well, my mum usually tells me it’s time for an overhaul and orders me to go and get it cut, for god’s sake, and I find a hairdresser that doesn’t look too intimidating/has a student discount and begrudgingly take a seat.

So, this Friday, horribly hungover from the Linguistic’s Christmas meal wine (and cocktails, and Willow tequila), I headed into town to 3D Hair Design on the Shambles. It’s been twelve long months since I got it done last (I’m the opposite of your stereotypical girly girl), and I really wasn’t looking forward to this.

Because I never attend to my hair, going to a hairdressers makes me nervous. I don’t feel particularly feminine enough, I get embarrassed because I don’t understand the lingo (what does feathering even mean?)  and I have to admit that I don’t use any hair care- of any kind, by any stretch of the imagination.

You could practically smell the shock registering when my hairdresser untied my locks out of the bun I’d stuck it in. “Wow, there really is a lot of it“. Unsure of how to react to this, I just giggled nervously, then quietly apologised.

(My hair now, three “before” shots and the hairdresser’s floor)

After some moments of recovery, she’d convinced me that the only way to make my hair healthy again is to reduce it from it’s half-way-down-my-back length to just over my shoulders. Over an hour later, after a few more stunned comments about my hairs uncanny ability to knot when you weren’t looking, and lopping off over half of my hair, we were done.

It’s still a surprise to me that I can now carry a shoulder bag without trapping my hair painfully underneath the straps, or sleep in a bed without leaving an array of split ends behind. The shock of having such shorter hair (I know it doesn’t look that dramatic, but it certainly feels it to me!) hasn’t worn off just yet, but I actually quite like it. I might even go so far as to say I’m going to actually look after it from now on, though don’t quote me on that.


The Phone Fear

You know that weird little fear our generation seems to have about using the phone? Where you’d much rather deal with other humans via email than by using your voice, becoming a huge misanthrope every time you can hear the phone ringing, or getting a butterfly sensation right before you start dialling someone’s number? Yeah, that.

Well, I reckon this little bit of nervousness is entirely justified. We’re a generation who are so used to seeing the typed word rather than dealing with anonymous voices over a phone line. It’s more natural for us to deal with strangers online. We’ve been doing it all our lives.

Don’t believe this phenomena actually exists? Case in point: Dominos pizza have developed an app for iPhones. That’s right folks, a company who functions on the basis of people phoning in to order pizza has produced an application to use- on a device originally intended for calling people- that bypasses actual human contact, so people can order pizza. Our phones are no longer being used to phone people. In fact, they’re being explicitly used to not phone people.

So, we can all just accept the only reason people spend hundreds of pounds on smartphones is to play Angry Birds and never vocally speak to each other again- right? No, because the world is designed to intentionally spite us, and the art of phone calls is one that we pretty much have to master.

At my York Press work placement last week, I spent a lot of time on the phone. To primary school teachers, scientists, press offices. I had to get quotes from them for news items, find interesting points to dry stories, and in the case of the scientist, get her to explain her research in a way that even I, with my baffled expression and lost GCSE science certificate, could understand.

Luckily for me, I have a year of working at a restaurant under my belt. There’s the guy who wants to book at table of thirty for a Saturday night and won’t take “We’re fully booked” for an answer, and the little old lady who forgot to turn on her hearing aid before she rang. I’ve fine tuned my phone voice out of pure necessity. You need to be bloody efficient when taking deposits for Christmas parties while you have two burning plates in your hands.

So you’d think with this splash of experience I’d be a bit less of a complete idiot when it came to phone interviews. Well, guess again, because for all my bravado and flourish when taking booking via phonecalls, my phone interview skills aren’t quite up to scratch just yet.

On task to get a quote from two primary schools that were participating in Movemeber (the staff, obviously. Not some crazily developed year threes.), I genuinely asked a school receptionist whether she “liked moustaches”. Her response was brutal. “I couldn’t really care less about them love, do you need anything else?” Cue awkward silence and a mental note to prepare for phone interviews in the future.


Internship: part one- dressing like a schoolkid, annoying the staff & elusive Scout leaders

As part of my growing up phase, I’ve scored some work experience at the local paper. The York Press have kindly let me take a seat on the news desk and pester them for stories for a week- all as part of a placement organised by my beloved Yorker.

First came the clothing panic. I don’t own any shirts or grown-up blazers, as I’m pretty lacking in the chest department and they tend to make me look like a schoolboy in an ill fitting suit. So, emergency trip to H&M and clothes raid on the much more sensible Emma Bennett’s wardrobe, I was set. Come Monday morning, armed with my best pen, best notepad, and best intentions, I walked in the pouring rain to the Press office on Walmgate, dressed like an auditionee for the Young Apprentice. 
After a flying tour of the office, I took my seat and awaited instruction. Looking around, everyone seemed so busy and important. The floods had just hit York again, so that had taken over for the morning. I read a copy of the paper from front to back, then once again in case there was going to be a test, then gingerly asked for something to do. 
The thing with work experience placements is, you don’t want to annoy anyone. Striking the balance between seeming keen and seeming plain irritating is pretty tricky. You don’t want to look like you’re doing nothing, and you don’t want to repetatively ask for something new everytime you finish a task. You can see everyone’s really busy- meaning there’s definitely spare jobs going that they’d happily hand over- but they’re also so busy that they forget to forward you that email or are interrupted mid-explanation by an important phonecall. 
Luckily, it isn’t always much of an issue at the York Press. My request for more stuff to do does fall by the wayside some of the time, but for the most part I’m kept occupied. It’s not boring stuff either; I’ve been writing stories that have appeared in the paper, and I’ve written a couple now that will even include my own byline- practically golddust for students trying to make a name for themselves in journalism.
Probably the most challenging task I’ve been given so far is to provide 150 words on a local Scouts Pack presentation evening. Sound simple? This scout pack just happen to be the only one in Yorkshire without a dedicated website. The hall they’re based at doesn’t seem to own a phone, none of the leaders are online in any shape or form, and the guy I needed to get in touch with turned out to be the most elusive Scout leader on the planet. Forty five unanswered phonecalls to the number I managed to salvage from very limited sources later, part of my soul was dying along with the chance of my first story for the Press ever being published.
Eventually, after two solid days of answering machines, emails, and pleading with any vaguely relevant parties, I managed to get through to a woman who seemed to be aware of the Scout clubs existence. She was as good as a spokeperson in comparison to everyone else I’d managed to get hold of, so I managed to wrangle a quote about how proud she was of the kiddies involved and hung up the phone in a triumphant flourish. I’d got the quote. I was the best investigate journalist in the world. 
Turns out the quote went unpublished, as we had enough information without it. So, two days of soul-destroying answering machines for nothing, essentially. BUT, more importantly, I’d learnt an important journalism lesson- cutting the wheat from the chaff. Also don’t rely on a Scout Leader to ever answer their phone.