Let me tell you about my new job: It doesn’t exist yet.
At the end of the month, after I’ve worked out my notice and been on holiday, I’ll start work as editor for a new venture called Podium, a daily podcast for under 20s. It launches in September which is why it doesn’t exist yet – I’ll be working with two other brilliant and entrepreneurial women to make it happen.
As well as signing up journalists and trainee journalists from all over the UK to go out and talk to young people, I’ll be out and about talking to them too. Suddenly I’m dredging up what feel like long-distant memories of my pre-journalist days, when I spent my days and evenings for the most part with 14 year olds.
It’s amazing how quickly I’ve forgotten how pleasant and approachable and normal teenagers are. The media demonises young people so much, and we have so little interaction between generations, that it’s easy to feel intimidated by them. Walking to the Tooting Hub on Saturday night, I had to remind myself a) I was a teenager once, b) I worked with teenagers once, and c) teenagers are human beings too, no matter how zombie-like they sometimes appear.
This particular group were in the middle of a world record attempt. At midday that day they had launched themselves into rapping continuously and freestyle for more than nine hours.
Dressed in black hoodies and caps worn backwards, some with dreadlocks, some with undercuts and at least one guy with a couple of gold teeth, they were bounding with enthusiasm even when I arrived for the last two hours of what became a total of ten hours of solid rap.
They were witty, articulate, intelligent, committed and full of enthusiasm. You’d never have guessed they’d be so talented purely by looking at them. Which is obvious, because unless you’re a trapeze artist or a fire-eater, it’s rare for anybody’s talent to be obvious at first glance.
The closest I come to being able to rap is joining in with the credits to the Fresh Prince (which as James Acaster pointed out on Sunday night’s Rise of the Idiots at the Exhibit in Balham, is an almost involuntary action for people of a certain age) – so of course I found them ridiculously impressive.
After they’d finished, they were exuberant and jubilant. My job doesn’t exist yet, but these moments do. They happen all the time, all around us, all over the country – Podium is about airing these moments, showing off the best of young people, giving them the opportunity to redress the balance on the record. I’m excited!