Feeling nostalgic today.
It’s 10 years to the day since I moved to London and began my career working in the sport industry. London is officially my longest relationship.
I had a couple of friends - one of them more a friend of a friend at the time, but still opened his door to me - who let me sleep on their sofa and store my rucksack full of (crumpled) clothes. I still owe them, not that I’ll ever tell them to their faces.
Naivety played a massive part in my journey. I had lots of odd jobs before then, mainly minimum-wage bar work, with a few months on the news desk of a local radio station (which, looking back, I’m pretty sure wasn’t even close to minimum wage). And for some reason, I thought I would saunter into London and be ushered into a flat overlooking Buckingham Palace because I had a “salary”.
Instead, it was five months of sofa-hopping, with the occasional night in a 12-bed dorm of a hostel behind Waterloo Station. Its location meant I could walk to the office in Covent Garden, saving a few quid on a tube ticket. I haven’t told many people about this and, looking back, it’s a weird one because all the people I worked with would do anything to help each other. But until you know that, you don’t really know, you know? I’ve seen some weird stuff in hostels down the years but waking up in the morning and getting dressed for work around the same time as most people were coming in from a night out was…different.
This photo means a lot to me. Excuse the low-res, but it is ten years old. I took it on my way home from work after stopping for a drink by myself (I didn’t know anyone), suddenly realising where I was…working an awesome job in the middle of London, in the industry I’ve always wanted to be a part of. I'd only ever been to London for football matches before then. Fortunately I understood then, and now, how lucky I was.
BUT if one good thing can come out of this pandemic, and the tragic aftermath it will no doubt leave behind, it’s that more doors can open to people who previously weren’t able to jump on a train and arrive in London on their first day with a mate willing to offer up their sofa. It shouldn’t be the only way into an industry that has continued to build geographical, socio-economic and personal barriers from day one. You don’t need to be in the office every day anymore, do you? And does that office really need to be in central London?
With that in mind, 10 years on, it feels serendipitous that my London "anniversary" should fall on the same day that LiveWire Sport’s Diversity in Digital Mentoring Programme kicks off its second year. This year’s group (15 this year, up from 12 in 2020) are from all over the country and with their own stories to tell. All of them have faced their own personal challenges, and I can’t wait to work through those with them. So, as we slowly begin to see the light at the end of this gruesome Covid-tunnel, let’s keep our minds open to new talent - individuals with fresh ideas and different perspectives and cultural references who aren’t like me or you because that’s dull, predictable and (yes) old.
I also really want a Guinness now…