After working in the Guardian library I started my MSc at City. To pay the bills I worked on the Guardian website at night. The website wasn’t run out of the main Farringdon road office but from an attic in Ray Street, accessed via what seemed like a goods elevator.
I written about the pleasures of night shifts before, and my abiding memory of this time is the beautiful, out of this world taxi rides home along embankment through an empty city.
The Guardian was also responsible for my only (brief) spell of vegetarianism. One shift I was charged with sifting through images of burning cows to add to the Foot and Mouth special report. Following that with a walk home past fast food shops and their waft of burgers was a bit too much.
I cracked a few months later, roasted a chicken and ate pretty much the whole thing.
Both the best and worst night shift ever was the night of the US election. Instead of the night shift being the usual mundane whirr of hacking the daily paper into a website, it was how I felt a newsroom should be. Realising around 3am that George Bush was the next US president was not so uplifting.
At the same time, my friend Sally was working on one of the Guardian’s digital experiments, the weblog.
That coincidence meant that in autumn 2000 I covered for her whilst she was on holiday and allows me to annoy Martin with having blogged before him.
It was also the first time I was required to look at porn for work, as my stint coincided with Richard Desmond buying Express newspapers and the weblog editor wanted us to link to one of his *other companies* but one that wouldn’t cause too much upset.
So stint two was memorable for Richard Desmond, burning cattle and George Bush. And for the realisation that these websites need a lot of organising.