It was a warm and sticky night… and my first Women In Journalism summer party. I recently joined this admirable association and have been struck by the friendliness and inclusivity of their gatherings. So I was looking forward to the party.
This is kind of unusual for me. My biggest failing as a journalist is a complete lack of brass neck; that ability to work a room and come out with three exclusive stories and a pocket full of useful contacts. Going to a party on my own, where I might not know anyone, is usually my idea of hell.
But when I wandered into the grand library of the Royal Geological Society on Piccadilly, a mini-bottle of fizz in my hand, I was quickly greeted by one of the WiJ team and introduced to a group of people. I was delighted to run into a former colleague and we had fun catching up. Before long I’d talked to half a dozen people, women from different branches of journalism and PR, freelancers, staffers, authors of books and editors of magazines.
And it wasn’t your usual networking nightmare. I never had the feeling that people were looking over my shoulder, trying to spot someone more important to talk to. (There were some Very Important Women in attendance, including Rebekah Brooks, WiJ chair Eleanor Mills and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.) We discussed Brexit, journalism in Africa, how to develop a specialism, women’s rugby, deadlines, the joy of writing… all with a notable absence of political rancour. People chatted, moved on, joined and left groups, applauded Eleanor Mills’ rousing speech about the rise of women in public life and drank all the white wine. Thirsty work, socialising in the heat.
It was a lot of fun. And I went home with a splendid goody bag, stuffed with posh chocolates, gin cocktails, biscuits and more. Can’t wait for the Christmas do.