Monocle, Week 2: Kiev and Large Elephants


This week has been long. At times, really fucking long. Towards the end of it – at around 9pm on Friday evening, when I knew that I still had a couple of hours left – my mind stood up, grabbed its coat, and waltzed out of the building.

The work doubled in intensity this week, because rather than being the intern for one show during each shift, both myself and the other intern were the hired help for two. Both shows I’ve been working on have been focusing heavily upon Ukraine, given that it looks increasingly likely that Yanukovych will be overthrown soon. Midori House, broadcast from 6 – 7pm, features a half an hour roundtable discussion with two guests, followed by some more straight news reporting and culture stories. The second, The Monocle Daily, goes out live from 10 – 11pm, with more of a focus on Asian stories.

And honestly, working on them has been great. If you simply call somebody and say that you’re a journalist, you have access to all kinds of people – leaders, ex-ambassadors, other journos, etc – and this works especially well if a) they like your company and b) the conversation could lead to them getting paid. With Monocle, both of those criteria are amply satisfied. Booking guests is therefore a relative breeze.

This week I’ve spoken extensively with Gulliver Cragg, who is Monocle’s man in Kiev – yesterday he actually did his 10 minute check in at the top of the show whilst walking through Independence Square – who juggles reporting live for France24 with telling me that he’ll be free in 5 minutes time. I’ve also chatted to the BBC’s woman in Caracas, Irene Caselli, pre-interviewed Igor ‘don’t call me a spy’ Sutyagin (see this  – he’s a very well respected think tank-er specializing in Russian affairs), and warmly welcomed Oscar ‘slightly too trendy to be a professor’ Guardiola from Birkbek University.

We’ve had some awesome culture slots in the shows. On Thursday, a woman from some book reviewing company came in and talked about the books ‘Jumbo: The Unauthorised Biography of a Victorian Sensation’ and ‘Perv’ – two fascinating pieces in their own right. The first is about the infamous Victorian plaything, a huge elephant (the pre-fix ‘jumbo’ comes from here – jumbo jet, jumbo burger, etc) that lit up Victorian circus audiences and was controlled only with copious amounts of alcohol. The Elephant was reportedly such a nuisance, being drunk all the time, that it had to be put down. Apologies for this, but there is a HARROWING PICTURE COMING UP of another elephant that had been put down. Jumbo was, thankfully, killed in the relatively humane manner of being hit by a train.


And then I’ve done other stuff. I prepared a briefing for the big boss, Tyler Brule, for his interview with the famed typographer Neville Brody. I’ve worked on my hosting skills by becoming kind of friendly with one of the regular guests on the show; a guest whose career involved working as the British ambassador to North Korea.

The shift is a weird one – 2pm til 11pm – because you start off refreshed and then finish up very tired. I got into a bit of a pattern of sleeping 9 hours (which is super), but then having no life outside of work and travel. I don’t think that’s any better for the psyche than the shift I had last week, which involved waking up at 2:45am. But yeah, people enjoy complaining – and I’m no exception. One week it’s all ‘I’m too tired’, and the next ‘I get too much sleep’. Gimme a break, right?

To top it all off, I had to get through Season 2 of House of Cards in the same period. Because I’m, like, a total boss, I did it with relative ease #teamRobinWright.


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