There was a time, as a teenager, when I wanted to be a journalist. We won’t discuss the brief times I wanted to be a chef (I’m a bit destructive in the kitchen), a doctor (I’m not brilliant with shift work and the responsibility of looking after peoples’ lives), a nurse (ditto), a fireman (I’m asthmatic and not good with smoke), a policeman (I’d be useful at solving crime), and an actor (I can’t act).
But for a number of years, I wanted to be a journalist, almost like my dad. I say almost because my dad and I differ in two important ways; he liked being a sports reporter as well as being a news reporter (he did both in his career, and I am only dimly aware of the fact there’s a ball in football), and he always got a buzz out of digging beneath the surface and finding out the facts behind a story.
Don’t get me wrong, I love learning about facts and truth, but I eventually realised that I preferred crafting a story entirely out of my imagination – fiction, in other words, rather than journalism. I always admired my dad for being able to get to the heart of a story in a logical and calm way that kept people interested.
I even had the opportunity to enjoy some real-life work experience in the newsrooms my dad was a part of, and I got to experience a real “hold the front page!” moment during a bomb scare in Canterbury. The buzz and thrill of the moment was truly exciting. I got to see the Queen Mum (although she inexplicably failed to talk to me, which I can only take to be a failure on her part) and, when I was out for the day with one of the photographers – a chap called Brian Green, who is a wonderful man – was introduced to the Lord Mayor of Canterbury. At 15, that’s faintly impressive.
But I eventually realised that journalism wasn’t for me and that fiction was – the allure of crafting a novel out of the depths of my own imagination was too tempting to give up – and moved in a different career direction. But still, I live on reflected fame even now; my surname is rather unique, and the amount of people who used to ask me “Is your dad Nigel Munson?” every time he featured on the front page of the papers (quite a lot) was never-ending.
In fact, it still happens now, and my dad’s been retired for the past few years. It’s funny; I always rather enjoyed the kudos of sharing that family name and being associated with an award-winning journalist. It occasionally made people think that I was a better writer than I actually was as a teenager, and of course I never corrected them – being held up to my dad’s standard was quite an undertaking.
But no, journalism soon stopped being my end goal, and I ended up making things up for a living. Mind you, I could well have fitted in to a number of nationals on that basis for a while, couldn’t I? But I’m thankful for good journalists, who do actually keep us properly informed; Kathy Bailes, the esteemed editor of this fine newspaper, is one such example; my dad is another, and I’m proud to have inherited the love of words I have done from my dad.