Rebekah Brooks to return? We all get those new-job jitters

I, too, am about to step back into the workplace. I feel like a kid going back to school

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The Independent Online

Rebekah, I know just how you feel. Almost. I have also been out of full-time work for a long time. Thirteen months, in two spells. True, not quite your four years on the sidelines, but then my redundancy package was considerably less attractive than the £10m Rupert M gave you when you departed as chief executive at News International.

If reports are to be believed, you, Ms Brooks, are set fair for a triumphant – if faintly controversial – return to what is now News UK. Nice work if you can get it, and good luck!

I, too, am about to step back into workplace on Monday. I feel like a kid going back to school: the hair is cut; new shoes bought, and my one decent suit awaits uplifting from the dry cleaners. And new resolutions have been made: always to work hard; to focus; to lose weight.

I’ve played the game at a fairly high level: a journalist of decent standing for 30 years; editor of this fine paper for six; referendum editor at the BBC during the Scottish referendum last year.

Maybe not quite an automatic qualifier for the Champions League each year, but a comfortable enough mid-table side and occasion winner of the odd, meaningless bauble. A Spurs, maybe, to your Chelsea, Rebekah. More probably, a Stoke.

I never assumed it would be easy to get back in: journalism’s a tough business these days, and who wants an ex-editor looking over their shoulder? But I was surprised to find I was one of those blokes: 52, and realising that being male, pale and – in misguided eyes – stale was a big problem.

There was an interview for a decent-enough job with one of the world’s leading news agencies when – rarely, I’ll admit – I creamed it, only to be called back for a secret meeting with the boss. She dismissed me with: “You’re overqualified. We can’t have that.”

Or the time when even the dogs in the street knew this particular role was going to a job-share. Still, a charade had to play out. The editor involved checked his mobile phone throughout. Or the one where the young managing editor chewed gum incessantly. What would they made of me if I had done that?

Or my first-ever, fumbling Skype interview, and realising that the two people interviewing me in the middle of the screen were mid-thirties, good-looking and vibrant. Me? I was the tired old geezer down in the bottom right – even I would have been hard pushed to give me the job.

There was the humiliation of unanswered emails – some to senior industry figures once desperate to download your ideas; an irritating recurrent theme of “But what’s your digital experience?” (a lot, as it happens); and, most of all, anger at myself for allowing all this to happen.

Still, that was then, Rebekah. A new day has dawned, has it not? Tomorrow, I’ll be the one with the faintly damp palms, desperate to make a good first impression.