- Lifestyle & Sports
- 22 Jun 17
During my regular perusals of the Hot Press website, I invariably experience overwhelming relief that during my time at Trinity Street the magazine didn’t yet have a presence on this “thing” we were vaguely aware of called “the internet”.
It is probably fair to say the need to diligently update and maintain it around the clock in this modern world of 24-hour rolling news would not have sat well with those of us more comfortable with producing one magazine every fortnight and the latitude for drinking this schedule presented.
They were great days, arguably the best of my life, as a twenty-something culchie catapulted into a world inhabited by the kind of weird and wonderful creatures I could never have hoped to get to know if I had not one day entered a journalism competition run by Hot Press in conjunction with a Sunday morning TV and radio show called the Beatbox. I am certainly not the only person in the world lucky enough to have won the job of their dreams on the whim of a judging panel, but I’ll bet I’m the only one who celebrated by going to watch Birr hurlers take on Coolderry in the Offaly county championship.
No, the voracious appetite of the internet for constant, diligent updates and “content” would not have suited my colleagues and I in the Hot Press nerve-centre during the mid-90s. Our 14-day publication cycle was far less oppressive and as I recall, it could generally be broken down into four days of doing nothing whatsoever, another five or six of ambling in at around 10am and heading off to the pub around five hours later, then four more of genuinely intense labour known as the “Production Weekend”.
I could multi-task back then. As well as writing reviews, interviews and features, compiling the gig guide, subbing and proof-reading the scribblings of others and trying to think up amusing captions for photographs, I was tasked with one particularly memorable job for which I developed something of a sixth sense: finding things.
During the occasional pandemonium of these hectic weekends, my job was to keep our production editor, Mairin Sheehy, under constant surveillance as she roamed the office holding very important bits of paper, so that I could locate them an hour or so later when she re-roamed the editorial floor in a blind panic at having mislaid them. After a while, I didn’t need to keep tabs on her any more because I became familiar with all her involuntary hiding places. It was important work and to this day I wonder how they’ve coped without me for almost 20 years.
Away from the cut-and-thrust of long production weekends and nocturnal ligging and gigging, long afternoons were often spent in various hostelries, more often than not on high stools in the International Bar. “A row of pints and men happy,” dear old George Byrne used to say, before boring the collective arse off of us compartively young bucks with tales of how much better things used to be in the old days, much like I am doing in this meander down memory lane. George was never happier than when I last met him for a few scoops near White Hart Lane before Spurs played his beloved Shamrock Rovers in the Europa League a few years ago, and we reminsiced about a period in another life that was soundtracked almost exclusively by raucous laughter. I have Hot Press to thank for so much more than giving me an opportunity.
These days I write and discuss sport for the Guardian, talk bollocks for two hours every Sunday on the radio and live a stone’s throw from Brixton Academy, where many of the acts who feature in the pages of Hot Press can be found performing. Tragedy has struck London twice already this year, but the city I saw on the news last weekend bears little or no resemblance to my little corner, where hipsters, locals and blow-ins of every stripe and shade generally cohabit with a minimum of friction. I suppose much like our old production cycle, London occasionally descends into unwanted and unnecessary chaos, but we invariably muddle through – and the laughter begins again...
- Lifestyle & Sports
- 05 Jun 18