Newbies and the NCTJ Exams

This month is going to be a shitstorm for me. She says, blissfully typing away not at all procrastinating from revising the entire contents of the McNaes Essential Law for Journalists tome. Usually when facing terrifiying exams like this, before the 11th hour when I cram furiously I tend to just hide in the gym.

Ah the gym.

Its January which means to distract us from the fact that our Christmas bonuses have evaporated and the decorations are down… and the recession is quite obviously infecting and murdering our favourite High Street shops – everybody is now either detoxing, exercising or weeping quietly into their Woolies lampshades.

Right so, the gym is my first peevish grumble of the year. The fact that I, as a regular gym-goer (as in I go the same three times a week for an hour a time and recognise each week the people that go at the same time as I do), I really resent seeing groups of girls pouring over their three side-by-side treadmills giggling about which setting they should try out. 

Similarly with the kid that comes in to exercise wearing denim shorts and Converse. Give up now. The Miso soup diet might work better as you have obviously never been to a gym before however it is probable that you have made soup before.

It just annoys me. I deliberately go in early so I miss the post-late-breakfast-on-a-free-day herd. I’ll wager that I won’t see half the newbies hovering sheepishly about the cross-trainers in a month. 

And so, in protest, today I did not go to the gym because spending 25 minutes on a rowing machine while looking over my shoulder to see if the treadmills/ cycles/ cross-trainers/ thigh-trainers were free yet but they were all snaffled up before I could unharness my feet. Instead, I got out my trusty Yogalates DVD which I used concurrent with gym classes at Lancaster as well as after a cold outdoor run when I lived at home. 

Now, I could go for a run here… not so much. The streets of Salford are no place for a jogger. Although the fear might be a good cardio-vascular enhancer. 

Plus I have the NCTJs to revise for which start in 8 days! I have done very little revision thusfar and I hope that the terror of having to fork out another £185 to resit them might just be the kick up the backside that I so obviously need. I managed to get by my second flush of internal exams comfortably with maniacle revising done the 60 hours prior to sitting down in silence with my cohorts.

Happily, this means that fear, late nights and no money will assist in weight-loss and as next Wednesday draws closer, I doubt I will get more than two more gym visits in until the end of the month when the exams are finished. So, luckily, I may miss out on these mincing newbies after all. 

Anyway, I always have my downward dogs and planks to keep me toned in the meanwhile. Not to mention my rapidly depleting food stock which will very shortly consist primarily of frozen peas and dried flagelot beans. 

Still, I’m sure that some nutritionist out there will be able to confirm that flagelot beans are fantastic for the brain. And I need all the brain power I can muster for these beasty examinations. Two Law exams, newswriting (a lot more difficult to get high marks in than you would think), Public Affairs local government and Public Affairs central government. Basically, to go from zero of the above wisdoms of British democracy and journalism to at the very least “novice” of the above wisdoms is quite a task. It certainly doesn’t help that it is for the most part (law and PA mainly) – tedium.

Newswriting for an NCTJ exam generally comprises of writing stories from fictitious press releases regarding potholes or community centres being shut down. I am yet to see an NCTJ exam with a faux press release unravelling a story such as that in the news today about the Australian woman who killed her husband by lighting his penis on fire. 

Anyway, all this is very well but I do have to revise the entire law of the world and the entire British government systems by next week and so far I’m not even going to squeak by on a wing and a prayer. Christmas is truly over.

Happy New Year.


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