MILAN – The rain began to pour down this morning just as we started loading a very expensive camera into the back of our van. We were in Battersea, near the famed power station (think Pink Floyd's "Animals" - it's on the cover), getting set for a rare visit to Clint Dempsey's house in a London suburb.
One of the nice things about working for FOX is that you get to do things like go to footballers' homes, meet the family and chat about how they see the game. One of the terrifying things about working for any modern media company is that now you have to film it all.
I should confess at this point that I am not really someone who has ever wanted to be on TV or film. I always have preferred the remove of print, or, failing that, a nice radio mic. Those of you who have noticed my copious tattoos may have already gathered that I have never hungered for a public position in, say, politics. (Those of you who haven't may wish to see a reputable optometrist.)
When I started out, there was no Twitter, no Facebook and nothing close to video-on-demand. Interviewing a player usually meant hanging out with a ratty notebook behind a goal, or, at best, having a plate of nachos after practice one day. (Clint and I did that one day, many years ago.)
These past 18 months have been something of a steep learning curve for me. Many of my younger colleagues had TV training on college, but I was working for the local free newspaper back then, a different sort of apprenticeship for a different era. I've had to learn working in front of and behind the camera; develop a rudimentary sense of editing; and this week, do production on three projects of varying sizes. For a generation that grew up with Final Cut and YouTube, this probably seems laughable. But I'm someone who used to physically paste up pages for press.
Nonetheless, times change, and you either move with them or get run over. As it happens, these diaries were started nearly 10 years ago in an effort to exploit what was then a growing and untested medium: the blog. (If that seems quaint, consider that just five years prior, the very idea of "online journalism" was considered idiotic. Who would give up their daily newspapers?)
The point is, this week you've been seeing a torrent of coverage of the like that never would have been done even a year ago - at least not by me. This week, you've been able to track my movements about London using Foursquare, follow my thoughts from behind the scenes on Twitter; watch behind the scenes videos from across London at least twice a day; and you'll see all the hard work pay off on FOX Soccer in a short two days.
It's all a bit dizzying for a guy who started out just wanting to watch football matches and get paid for it.
One tip: if you watch the Facebook videos closely, there are two specific things we've included in almost every one. It began accidentally but now we're doing it deliberately, as kind of an in-joke. Since in-jokes are lame, we're letting you in on it: the first one who figures it out and sends me a tweet with the correct answer, will get a prize.
Today, I had hoped to get to Selhurst Park. We didn't make it. Instead, I comforted myself with a nice trip to Baker Street and a meal at a place called the Volunteer. It's next to the home of one of the most famous fictional characters in the world and is alleged to be seriously haunted. I cann't attest to poltergeists, but you can do much worse for food and company.
Tomorrow, we have another big day: another interview with a big American player. Then, we will get set to worrying about Boxing Day and whether we'll see any football - the Underground is set to go on strike and our London matches might be off. I'll have more on that tomorrow. Until then, thanks.