We are taught to question everything.

From why a council-run leisure club is spending hundreds of thousands of tax payers money on new equipment, whilst running at a loss. To why a homeless man living in a tent isn’t deemed ‘homeless enough’ by the people who have the power to secure him a roof over his head.

We are taught to recognise when a case switches to ‘active’. To not disclose that the man just arrested for allegedly burgeoned his mother to death with a spoon has a history of violent crime. Or that the green grocer saw a 6”2 dark haired male with a spliff-smoking rat tattoo on his neck, fleeing the scene with said spoon. It’s a little case of TMI.

We are taught to be fair. To give the council-tax dodging councillor the opportunity to reply. To defend himself. Despite the evidence on the magistrates charge street, despite the overwhelming urge to do the complete opposite.

We are taught to be reactive. To watch a situation unfold and instinctively understand that this is news worthy, and the public gotta know.

We are taught to have a thick skin. Even when a someone wants to throw you under a bus in a public Facebook group for ‘not doing your job’ when in fact, the shoe was steadfast on the other foot.

We are taught to understand the legal restrictions and allowances placed on journalists in a court of law. To understand that we cannot include in our report the heckling cousin of the alleged murderer in the public gallery, unless Mary-sue has given evidence. We must understand a section 45, and an 11. Never forget an 11. We cannot record, but we can tweet.

We are taught to observe-only. Keeping our opinionated brains on sleep-mode. Record the facts, but more importantly, record the balanced facts. Don’t judge the woman who stakes out abortion clinics with posters of unborn foetuses to ‘help’ pregnant women. Don’t judge, but listen. And tell her tale too.

We are taught that we are the voice of a community. And we must not take advantage of that position. We must be approachable, and take the time to listen to Barbara tell us her life story. And as we listen we discover Barbara climbed Everest, blindfolded, and won the Nobel peace prize. Because you just never know.

We are taught the mechanics of the country. From how the queen is funded, to which council organises grass verge cutting. Elections and by-elections. District, county, borough and parish. Committees and Select committees. Political parties and independents. We learn it, so that we can translate the minefield of bureaucracy.

We are taught to protect our source. M15 style. Don’t give up their identity, keep mum. Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights will back you, it backed the other guy.

We are taught that shorthand is gospel. A dictaphone can only do so much, and in court or caught out on the hop, it is useless. Teeline is gruelling. It takes dedication, and hundreds of hours of practice- just to get good enough for our CV not be ignored by potential editors. It is a mountain to climb.

We are taught accuracy, honesty and integrity. To maintain our reputation by recording the facts, just as they are. “It’s Mandy with an ‘ie’”

We are taught that donning a wig and specs combo to catch the taxi firm that has reportedly discriminated against blondes with aviators, is a last ditch resort only.

Above all we are taught to be brave. To have faith in our direction.

To tell people’s stories is a privilege, and we are taught never to loose site of that.

Confessions of a dyslexic Muma.

dyslexia

Trying to teach your 5 year old to read, write and spell when you are still mastering the art is quite a tall order.

I am 32, a Muma, and I am dyslexic. Very Dyslexic.

I had subconsciously buried this teeny tiny fact once I had finished the gravy train of education. I sat my last exam at University, which I took in the same separate room just like I had taken all of my exams, with my allocated extra time, far away from the rest of my peers. This was the last time I really gave my dyslexia any thought.

I applied for jobs never mentioning it. I worked in sales and soon learnt to use the gift of the gab to cover up my rather chronic lack of organisation and close to zero order approach to the current role. I blagged and I sold. My admin was atrocious, my spelling so bad that the spellchecker often gave me the ‘no suggestions’ message as my attempts bore no resemblance to anything. Impressive! But I just about got away with it. No one knew. My secret was safe.

It’s been just over 5 years since I was last employed, and I honestly haven’t given my dyslexia a second thought.

Until now.

Our eldest daughter started school in September last year, and of course within the first few days proudly brought home her first reading book and flash card words to learn. I’m not going to lie, I found it a bit like pulling off a plaster really really slowly sitting there willing her to recall the word PAM and NAPS from one page to the next. But you’ve got to start somewhere, right.

The trouble is it wasn’t long before words like Digraph and Trigraph were appearing on homework phonic sheets. What the…? Dia-who?! Things have clearly moved on from Robber red and Kicking king back in the eighties. I’m not blaming my dyslexia for my ignorance of having absolutely no clue what these words mean, I can use google. But no matter how often I try and absorb the method by which Darcie is being taught, I just can’t seem to grasp it. It is like I am learning to read all over again. I struggle to make sense of her homework instructions, I have to read it slowly several times before I will have any real understanding of what is being asked. Even then I am constantly referring back to the instructions line by line. It’s frustrating and makes me feel like MumaDunce.

I’ve also discovered another little blip: I had forgotten that I can’t spell words out loud. I have to write them down. Even the most basic I find I have to write down or it comes out totally skewed. Of course I had a gentle reminder of this blackhole in my brain now that Darcie is into her writing. She will often shout out “Mum, how do you spell…?” Action stations. DROP EVERYTHING. Focus the mind. Locate scrap paper, scribble the word down. Read it back.

It’s a long winded process, it’s like having daily spelling tests! My fear is the word requests are just going to get more complex, the assistance with essays and other English assignments will be more frequent and I’ll let her down. My fear is that Darcie, and Lila soon, will think that their Muma is an illiterate buffoon! It’s not even like I can make up for it in the Maths department…

I have hope that writing this blog is good exercise for my dyslexic mind. I’m sure I don’t always make sense, my sentence construction isn’t always logical, my grammar is probably way off – I’m massively relying on the spell check paperclip doing his bit…But I’m tackling my nemesis head on, well, why not. I might write a book next, you never know!

Run Jump Scrap!