3 weeks and 3 days. That’s how long I’ve been in London now. I thought I would take a moment to check in with my goals and let you know how I’m doing.
As well as trawling the various ‘places to rent’ websites, TJ and I have been checking out areas we’d like to live. This has involved going out each week to look at different areas (Boroughs as they call them here) and having a wander around to get the feel of the place.
So far places in Central London like Kings Cross, St Pancras, Old Street. In Central North East we like Angel, Lower Islington and around Central South East we’re into Bricklane, Shoreditch, Sppitalfields. These are all urban areas with lots of people, refurbished flats, busy streets and cool like funky shops and eateries.
We also like Central West like Ladbroke Grove, Paddington, Marylebone and Bayswater. These are all areas around Notting Hill but not as expensive but just as nice. Here the streets are quieter but in a good way and there are loads of lovely three or four storey terraces with beautiful facades and well manicured courtyards.
Apparently each modern London Borough boasts a mix of both upper and lower class housing designed to create equal access to public services like transport, health, education etc. It’s also meant to prevent areas from being ghettoized. I wouldn’t say it’s been entirely successful because there is still a huge class system in London, especially when it comes to housing.
Take Spittalfields Markets for example. Above it you find yourself wandering through row after row of beautiful quaint terrace houses on well worn cobble stone streets. Go below the markets and it’s like you’ve stepped into the apocalypse. Run down council blocks tower above you, stray animals roam amongst rubbish tumble-weeding through the street and the locals eye you hungrily, as if to say, “Outsiders. Quick prepare the nets, tonight we feed!”
So as you make your way to what you think is a great looking flat in a beautiful location, you turn a corner and find yourself right smack in the middle of a council estate where people hang their washing out the window alongside the pelts of tourists who strayed too far from the herd.
I am the worse house guest ever
TJ and I are staying with my best mate and his wife here in London and it’s been great. They have been nothing but accommodating and generous with their home. So how do I repay them? By marking their vanity basin, leaving a burn mark on their carpet and shattering their coffee plunger. That’s one accident a week. I’m amazed they haven’t kicked us out yet. They’re saints I tell you.
These are the same people I called ON THEIR HONEYMOON to ask if, when they got back to Sydney, I could come crash because I had just scored a job there. I told them it would only be for three months. I ended up being there five. They’re saints I tell you, saints.
I’m slowly meeting a few people here and there but I don’t think I’ll really start forming real friendships here until I have a job and a place to live. I have managed though to meet up with another ex-pat through my best mate who turned out to be an old school buddy of mine. Small world. I’ve also met up with a few people recommended by friends back home (I have to stop saying that soon) which has been nice. And luckily there are quite a few friends and family who just happen to be making their way over to London for one reason or another this year, so seeing them again will be great. Thank you everyone for staying in touch, it’s made my experience here that much easier and less lonely.
jobs, opportunities and networking
Job hunting has been hard. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of jobs and some truly great jobs but also plenty of people applying for them. Australian have a good reputation in England as hard workers who get the job done. But there is also the concern that we don’t understand the industry or culture here, so I’m making a renewed effort to address this. In Australia about fifty percent of our content is made locally and the rest comes from overseas. So over the years I’ve watched more than my fair share of English television. I’ll be hammering this home in all my future application letters.
But for the Brits this is a bit of a foreign concept. Here, British content dominates free-to-air and cable television. There’s still all the usual US imports but an easy 80-90 percent of television programming in this country is made right here. That, plus the population, is part of the reason why there’s so much work here.
The financial crisis has hit England hard and there’s lots of talks of lay offs in the media sector. That of course means that there’s more people out there looking for work but I also think that as more and more full time positions get shed it will mean that more and more contract positions will be created to take their place. I’m use to living contract to contract without long-term security and as the job market ramps up I’m certain I’ll find a job soon. Or at least some temp work to see me through.
Part of the reason I came to London was to take advantage of opportunities that don’t exist back in Australia. Since being here I’ve applied for a new BBC radio sketch comedy show and about to prepare an application for a Channel Four scheme, both aimed at new emerging writers.
I just heard that I didn’t get the BBC gig, which is a shame because it would have meant that I could have gone to a comedy masterclass with David Mitchell, one of the guys from my fav British comedies, Peep Show. But I did get three decent coemdy sketch samples out of it.
I’ve never been great at networking, which is why it’s one of my goals for this year. I’ve had one great meeting so far though. I met up with a producer up at his lovely home in Hampstead (one of the leafy hills of London) to introduce myself and see if there was anyone he could recommend I chat to about work. I thought it would be a quick 20 minute meeting – in and out. He ended up spending nearly three hours with me and took me to lunch. I’ve since sent him some of my writing and projects to look over and now waiting to hear back from him. It sounds like he can put me in touch with some very cool people, including possible agents, and there’s a chance we might keep talking about some other opportunities in the future.
I have a one hour comedy/drama TV pilot script I’m desperate to finish but haven’t had a chance to yet because life keeps getting in the way. I don’t want to finish it necessarily to try and sell it but instead have it as solid writing sample. Don’t get me wrong, if I can sell it, great but at this stage it’s more likely that someone will read it and see me as a good fit for an existing show. I have to say though it feels like the best things I’ve written to date so I’m eager in the next three weeks before my birthday to at least get the first draft hammered out and done.
Since being here I have managed to get other writing done. My three comedy sketches as I mentioned, a couple of ten page extracts from two different projects that I’m using as short samples and a two page scene that I worked on with my actor mate, which he is shooting as a showreel piece.
Getting something done has been rewarding because you never feel like anything is finished when you write, so for that I am thankful. It’s also renewed my confidence that I do infact know what I’m doing and have a real chance to make a living out of this writing caper.
There’s more house and job hunting on the horizon but with my three strikes of mishaps out of the way I’m expecting nothing but good things from here on in.