If you ask me, this business of unpaid internships is as much a Fleet Street thing as a Whitehall thing and, amazingly, considering I work from home and am a total loser, I'm still often viewed as a portal to exciting and glamourous media opportunities, and cornered on behalf of Lucy who would just love to work on the fashion desk for two weeks this summer. (Look at me! I wear fatty jeans! If the fashion desk ever saw me coming at them, don't you think they'd pretend to be out?)
Still, it's good to have it all out in the open, and should anyone still wish to pursue "work experience" through me then I think it's fair I'm clear about what I'd expect them to do, as follows:
* Help with my "research" by clearing out the hall cupboard and the sticky one in the kitchen where the honey spilled in 1976 and which I still can't face.
* If not given a specific task, make an impression by re-landscaping the garden to incorporate a fountain, a tree house, a croquet lawn and a softly illuminated raised deck for cocktails on balmy evenings.
* Show you are an asset to any team by shovelling my front path in winter and de-icing the car. (The candidate who also sits in the driver's seat for an hour to warm it up may be invited back to provide unpaid labour on a more permanent basis at some point.)
* Hunt down tip-top stories and supply first-rate column ideas while I take full credit and you run my bath.
* Prove you are enterprising and enthusiastic by amusing me when I am bored. To this end, you may wish to do a small embarrassing dance or put a funny hat on the dog.( A yarmulke always works for me.) If you fail to amuse, you must ask yourself this: should I ever get a placement in an office, am I even fit to change the toner in a photocopier?
* Expect to be ignored for a long stretch, sent out for sandwiches, and then ignored again because, basically, I just can't be bothered with you. Had you been a self-starter, you'd have been too busy landscaping and softly illuminating to notice anyhow.
* Should you ever ask: "What did your last slave die of?" I will probably bluster: "What do you mean? This is an exciting and glamourous media opportunity!" even though, in truth, she fell from the tree house mid-construction. That was both a shame and a tragedy, especially because she'd yet to get the coffees in, pick up the dry cleaning, or raise the kids.