Thursday, 28 March 2013

Volunteering at the Commonwealth Games

In January I signed up to volunteer at the Commonwealth Games that are happening in Glasgow next year. I thought it would be a good thing to do, especially as I love watching sport. The deal was that you signed up and then the next step was to be invited to a first round of interviews for a specific location/job.

In my application I stated that my favoured job would be at the Velodrome, Athletics or Meet and Greet at the Athletes Village. And when I got my email inviting me to an interview, what did I get? I got Press Operations!

This reminded me of when I was 16 and looking for a Christmas job. I went to Selfridges and put myself down for the Record Department (as in discs with music on them) or the Toy Department. And what did I get? Ribbons and Sequins.  Oh yes, and the other part to this sad tale is that I'm maths phobic, in that I get freaked out by anything more than simple mathematics and when I was 16 we were still in the age of pounds, shillings and pence.

And this was also the age of the choker - that bit of material, usually ribbon or velvet that was put round your neck, sometimes with a piece of jewellery attached and sometimes a few sequins and sometimes just the choker itself. And in those days the tendency was for people to make their own.

Do you know how long a piece of ribbon or velvet you need to make a choker? We sold it in Selfridges at varying lengths such as 1/2 a yard and 3/4 of a yard, but never a whole yard. And the price per yard? 1shilling and threepence ha'penny. And do you know what that does to a maths phobic? It makes them anxious... very anxious indeed.

I lasted 3 days and quit to go work the Xmas shift at the post office in Paddington instead and spent a very happy month and a half sorting letters and cards for those good folk who lived in Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire.

Back to Press Operations at the Commonwealth Games - I think I have a well deserved skepticism as far as the press is concerned. This wasn't helped when I was centre head for a drop-in cancer service in Inverness and I was given media training and I was told that if the press get things 75% accurate you can count yourself lucky. Then the Press and Journal (one of our local papers), who were supposed to be supporting the centre, interviewed me over the phone to ask how frustrated I was that our purpose-built building was late in being finished (I was based in the Oncology Department at the time). I expressly said I wasn't frustrated at all as the building was a unique build and you can never tell exactly what unforseen problems might appear as a building gets built. What was reported the next day on the second page of the P&J complete with snappy head shot of yours truly? The following:

"Dr Freir, the Centre Head of the new Maggie's Centre in Inverness, would not comment on how frustrated she was at the delayed opening of the new centre, which will be 12 weeks later than planned."

I rest my case re the press.

I can feel my anxiety growing just thinking about being part of Press Operations. But maybe I'll learn that the press aren't all that bad... or else I'll have my fears confirmed and I will be forever linked to media spin and the thought that 75% accurate is bloody good!

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