Fly tipping story in Saturday’s paper

This is the story I am most proud of so far as I found it myself and it resulted in the council being booted into action.

It was in Saturday’s Argus with a byline and I went with the photographer to see the evidence and get the photos.



How strange can Freecycle get?
February 22, 2012, 7:52 pm
Filed under: Random | Tags: , , , ,

I posted on Valentine’s Day about the person looking for ‘Unwanted’ Valentine’s Gifts on Freecycle and today I saw the strangest offer yet:

OFFER: Beautiful dress made of condoms (Davigdor Road, Hove)
I work at a HIV/AIDS charity. Our ED picked up this dress abroad. It is
made from 7,630 condoms which failed the quality control test! The
condoms are starting to deteriorate hence we’re getting rid of it. Would
be ideal for art students looking for creative ideas! I can e-mail
pictures to those interested. Mannequin not included. Collector will
need to come weekday between 9-5.

Anyone interested?

Unwanted Valentine’s gifts and fridge shelves
February 14, 2012, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Comment and column style | Tags: , , , ,

So I’m back from my Sri Lanka trip and failed to blog while away as internet was sparse there.  I will write about my travels in due course, alongside applying for jobs, getting used to new Twitter and adjusting to the cold.  (Note to self – take a coat to the airport next time as two jumpers and plimsolls do not keep you warm when you return to cold England.)

In the mean time, I wish to share something topical that caught my eye on a Freecycle digest e-mail today.

For those of you who don’t know, Freecycle is a site that people use to ‘recycle’ their unwanted items, and appeal for anything they might need, for free.  It’s regional and I ‘subscribe’ to Brighton and Canterbury groups.

I hardly use it in practise, but I read through the e-mail digests each day in the hope someone is giving away a winning lottery ticket, or maybe even offering the lead to a story idea.

Today I saw this:

WANTED: any romantic pressies/unwanted valentines gifts (Telscombe Cliffs/Peacehaven)
Hi,am looking for anything romantic as its vvalentines day and. I dont
get paid to get my partner anything til weekend

Wow.  I don’t even know where to begin.

First of all, how many people is this dude trying to upset?  His lucky lady is set to receive something he didn’t even choose and something ‘unwanted’.  Is he trying to cause problems in other relationships by encouraging others to mark their gifts as ‘unwanted’ and toss them away to a stranger?

Also, how many gifts does he want?  I think I might be on to this guy, does he just want the gifts for himself? Maybe he’s going to set up a stall or an e-bay shop.

AND why can’t he just wait for the weekend and get his woman something then?  Surely she’s the type who will understand the circumstances if she’s the sort of bird who will settle for a second-hand valentine’s gift.

A bit of advice for this guy (who I have refrained from naming):

1) Try a skip, or a bin behind a charity shop if you’re after ‘unwanted’

2) Try a charity shop

3) Tomorrow all the supermarkets and department stores will cut their Valentine’s gifts to half price.  By the weekend when you get paid you’ll probably get something for 10p in a bargain box somewhere, if you rummage hard enough.  You can buy 10 gifts to make up for lateness.

4) Today if you go to a 24-hour supermarket, there will probably be some reduced flowers or even a reduced birthday cake, if you’re lucky.  Better still, you could always cut some stems from your garden, or your neighbour’s.

5) Google is there to be utilised.  Be creative.  There are thousands of sites dedicated to ‘Make your own’ gifts.  It’s far more thoughtful (and FREE).

6) You don’t even need Google.  Use your imagination – make a card, a cake, a mixtape.  Maybe you could check out if you have any leftover ‘unwanted’ Christmas gifts.

7) Plan in advance, stock up on ‘romantic gifts’ at the weekend and save them for next year.  You’ll probably have a different girlfriend anyway, if any.

8) Screw Valentine’s.  If you don’t have any money, then don’t bother – it’s all commercial anyway.

Maybe, I will e-mail him my advice and blog.  It would be interesting to see if he got any responses.

Further down the e-mail I was also amused to see this ad:

WANTED: 2-3 fridge shelves (Lewes RD)
Hi, by accident I broke the shelves of the fridge and I need some to
replace then, so if someone has an old fridge and you are
planningplanning to through it away, please let me know and I will be
happy to collect the shelves. The dimensions are 18″ by 12″.Thank you!!

It’s a bit of a teaser isn’t it? Before I even consider helping this guy, I would want to know the exact circumstances of this situation.  What did he do to this fridge?

I might get in touch as well and see if he got the precise dimensions he required.

Right that’s it from me, for today.

Happy Valentine’s Day one and all.

Brighton Journalist Works student wins award

A 22-year-old woman from Burgess Hill, who toured Europe and Japan as lead singer of a band before becoming a journalist, scooped a prestigious award last night.

Scarlett Wrench, who spent sixth form at Varndean College, won Student Journalist of the Year at the NCTJ Society of Editors’ conference.

She said: “I’m very flattered. I’ve brought my Grandma to the awards to thank her for paying for my journalism course.”

Scarlett recently completed her NCTJ certificate at Brighton Journalist Works and now works on Men’s Health Magazine.

She said: “I love it. It feels slightly surreal sometimes, to have landed this job at a time when finding work is so difficult for people my age.”

Scarlett was lead singer of band The Malchicks and featured in the Argus four years ago when her band released an album in the UK and America.

Although journalism isn’t the Hemingway and Hunter S Thompson that Scarlett imagined, she said: “I love it and I don’t even remotely regret going down this path.”

Scarlett was one of two members of the journalism society at school and recalls drafting press releases about Varndean College and sending them to the Argus.

Scarlett’s advice to aspiring journalists is: “Get out there and do it. Don’t just learn about it. Get some real-world experience.”

Interview: Scarlett Wrench, NCTJ Student Journalist of the Year

Scarlett Wrench has just won Student Journalist of the Year at the NCTJ Society of Editors Conference today.  She is 22, from Burgess Hill and studied at Brighton Journalist Works.

I interviewed her about this prestigious award and will publish the article I have written for tomorrow’s Argus on my blog tomorrow.

Congratulations Scarlett. How does it feel to win this award?

I’m very flattered. My award entries were stories I wrote while on my internship with the Crawley Observer, one of my local papers. I owe a lot to the people I was working with there for trusting me to take on some of the bigger stories – rather than just leaving me to make tea and chase up missing cats.

Who was the first person you told when you found out you’d been shortlisted?

I was with my Mum when I found out. She’d been eyeing up the letter for a while, clearly having guessed what it might be. I had no idea what the letter was for when I opened it, so there was no dramatic build-up.

How will you celebrate?

I’ve had a bit too much to celebrate recently – my new job, leaving home for the first time, turning 22… I’ve brought my Grandma to the awards to thank her for paying for my journalism course.

How were you at school?

I was a bit of a swot. I took my work very seriously – maybe too seriously! I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed school and I’m definitely having a better time now that I’m out of it, but I think I made the best of things while I was there.

How was your time studying at Varndean College?

I was a member of the journalism society (there were only two of us, it really wasn’t a very popular club) and I used to draft press releases about college goings-on and send them to the Argus.

What made you want to become a journalist?

I’d probably been reading too many books and had an idea that a career in journalism would be all Hemingway and Hunter S Thompson. Then I went to work on a local paper and quickly realised it wasn’t going to be much like that. Journalism is long hours in front a computer screen, looming deadlines and re-writing the same paragraph five times in one day. But I love it and I don’t even remotely regret going down this path.

How is your job working on Men’s Health?

I love it. It still feels slightly surreal sometimes, to have landed a job like this at a time when finding work is so difficult for people my age. I’m working quite long hours and the commute is a bit wearing, but it’s well worth it. And no one takes me any less seriously because of my age or lack of experience, which I’m grateful for. I’m enjoying the opportunity to work alongside so many talented people and for a publication that has a real chance to affect people’s lives. I’ve always been more drawn to men’s magazines than to magazines aimed at women. On the whole, men’s mags just tend to be funnier, more varied and a little less patronising – I don’t know why that is and I hope it’s not always the case.

What would be your best piece/s of advice to any aspiring journalists?

Get out there and do it. Don’t just learn about it. Get some real-world experience.

What made you choose the NCTJ route rather than university?

I didn’t want to be out of work for two years and end up saddled with a load of debt. I studied for my NCTJ part-time, so I was able to work about 25 hours a week in my local pub at the same time. It helped me retain some kind of independence.

What would you say to anyone thinking that maybe the university route isn’t for them?

Well, I’m no expert, but I think anyone would agree that so long as you work hard, stay focused and persevere in whatever it is you want to do, you can’t go far wrong.

What grades did you get on the NCTJ course?

News Writing was a B. All the others (Law, Public Affairs, Subbing, and the Business of Magazines) were A grades.

What was your favourite portfolio piece?

At Esquire magazine they let me write the contents page for their November issue and it managed to make it past the editor with relatively few changes. It felt very cool to see that in print.

Where was your favourite place to do work experience and why?

Esquire. It’s a magazine I have always enjoyed and admired, and that’s where I caught the ‘subbing bug’. It’s also where I met Emily Miles, who is now production editor at Men’s Health and who recommended me for the job. I owe a lot to Emily and to Esquire’s chief sub Jeremy White for their advice and support.

What do you aspire to do in the future?

I’m not writing much at the moment because I haven’t had the time, so ultimately I’d like to strike a balance between subbing and writing… and maybe be a production editor myself in five years time.

Anything else you would like to add?

If it’s of any interest to you, before I went down the journo route I used to be the lead singer of a band called The Malchicks. In 2007 we released an album in the UK and America, and we toured Europe and Japan. I also worked as a backing singer for cult 60s R&B band The Pretty Things. I’m telling you this because The Argus ran a story on me and the band about four years ago… they might even still have a slightly moody photo of me standing outside Varndean college!

Thanks Scarlett.

The Horrors at Concorde: 25th October

This can also be found here: http://www.brightonnoise.co.uk/2011/10/26/live-review-horrors/

Just in time for Halloween, The Horrors brought their spectral presence to Brighton by singing from the shadows of the Concorde stage.

With a cracking lighting set up, the five-piece progressive ensemble played to a sold-out, jam-packed audience, who sought shelter from the outdoor chilly spit and were met with a manic sweatbox.

Mostly playing songs from their hit album, Skying and a couple from Primary Colours, the band made their presence known by filling the venue with the radical cataclysm of noises that makes them pioneers of progressive sound.

The electrifying set showcased their impressive catalogue of electronic reverberations infused with their trademark ‘80s haunted-house’ vibe which is threaded into the majority of tracks.

Fronted by the silhouette of Faris Badwan, whose intense sexy vocal held its own alongside the symphony of sounds, the band played a tight set showing influences including grunge, punk, rock and pop.

An extended rendition of ‘Who Can Say’ moved into excerpts from ‘Sea Within a Sea’ causing the crowd to swell in excitement.

The band appeared to have each had a spoonful of Iggy Pop’s frontman vigour (if it came bottled) as flashes of light illuminated them severely rocking out engrossed in their enthralling sound.

The venue was often plunged into complete darkness and there was no silence as the buzzy reverb was maintained between songs, with minimal utterances from the band. This was most notable in a slightly over-milked pause for encore which was forgiven by the conclusive legendary extended two songs that followed.

They played most of the songs from Skying including a superb live version of ‘Still Life.’

The band left behind a trail of echoey reverberation leaving the sticky crowd gagging for the crisp cold night air which they had sought shelter from a few hours previous.

The Pepperpot is unveiled, and an exciting free event.

The restoration of historical landmark the Pepperpot in Queen’s Park will be unveiled on Friday followed by a free public event the following week.

The scaffolding around the 19th century listed building will be taken down to reveal the £70k council-funded project to restore the Pepperpot to its former glory.

Alex Sutton-Vale, secretary of the Friends of the Pepperpot spoke of the “fantastic transformation” and “stunning windows” after the covers were removed on Monday.

The Friends formed in January last year and at a meeting on Tuesday, discussed future work and the event taking place on 28-29th October.

Rachel Fryer, chair of the Friends said, “We are delighted with the improvements and really pleased that the scaffolding will be down in time for this event.”

‘The Tower of Dreams’ part of Shared Space and Light’s Whitenight celebrations will project a 20-minute film over the facade of the Pepperpot’s tower, to be repeated from 7.30pm-10.30pm.

The film features responses from the community as to how the Pepperpot could be used in the future and there will be refreshments provided.

There are also discussions as to whether the Friends will take ownership from Brighton and Hove Council in the future.

The Friends of the Pepperpot are in the early stages of a Heritage Lottery Fund application with breakdowns including inside restorations, education, installation of solar-panel lighting and open community forums.

The Pepperpot can be found in Tower Road, Brighton, BN2 0FZ.  For more information visit: pepperpot.info. The Friends of the Pepperpot are also on Facebook.