Some time ago a journalist friend of mine, who shall remain nameless for the purpose of this blog, asked me if her 15 year old son could come and do a week's work experience with me in July. I like to be helpful so I said yes and thought no more of it. Yesterday I got a phone message from someone, who conveniently didn't leave their name, from a company called Trident, about this work experience. I phoned them back and spent ten minutes on hold while they tried to find the right person. They never did and in the end I hung up. Today they phoned back to tell me that in order for this boy to come and work for us they need to visit 18 Doughty Street, carry out a health and safety survey, see our employers liability insurance and a full breakdown of what he will be doing while he is with us. They want half an hour of my time on top of the twenty minutes I have spent on the phone to them. It doesn't matter that it was all arranged by his mother, who is presumably happy for him to be here otherwise she wouldn't have asked in the first place. It was all I could do to stop myself telling them exactly what they could do with their survey.
The only thing which kept me smiling was the thought of them phoning Michael White of The Guardian and asking him the same questions, for my friend's son is doing some work experience with him too. Anyone who's visited the Guardian office in the Lobby will know what I mean!