The Vagenda

Shut in the Fashion Cupboard

I was stuck in the fashion cupboard. It did not look like this.

One intern’s tale of her brief time at a Women’s Weekly

09.00 having been given no start time for the internship, I optimistically arrive at 9am for the first day back after Christmas. There is a woman on reception who looks at me like I’ve asked her to don a Mexican bullfighter’s outfit and cook me a full English when I ask her to inform the mag that I’ve arrived. She declares witheringly that nobody ever arrives before 10am, duh.

09.05 Another intern turns up who has been booked in to work at the same publication as me. She is a qualified solicitor, but has taken unpaid leave to come here for 3 weeks. I debate telling her to get out whilst she still can via semaphore, but the receptionist is hawk eye-ing us in case we nick any cushions.

9.30 I consider the fact I could be at my parents’ still, eating panetone and getting pissed mid-morning whilst watching Fawlty Towers.

10.00 Reception woman begrudgingly puts down her word search book and calls up to our magazine again. She looks like the kind of person who would drown a box of kittens left on her doorstep.

10.03 An intern at the magazine says she’ll be down to get us when she can spare the time. Intern? Is the magazine staffed solely by interns and one Jabba the Hut-style editor?

10.30 Intern arrives to meet us, is stupefied to hear that we are a qualified solicitor and an MA journalism student. She looks about 18 and has all the charm of a fossilised turd.

10.33 I contemplate how much a single ticket back to my parents’ house would be, and whether they’ll have finished the Christmas cake yet.

10.35 We are deposited in a fashion cupboard. I have interned at Vogue before, I know what a fashion cupboard is supposed to look like. This is not it, this is Kerry Katona’s wardrobe after she’s snorted 8 lines of coke and done a smash and grab at Primark. Lurid swimsuits line the walls. There are also multi-coloured jeans, and tops made from that type of material that picks up dog hairs.

10.47 There are no chairs, so me and fellow intern are abandoned to ‘have a sort through’ the clothes whilst sitting on the floor. This will be our only job for the next week, because most people are still on holiday, informs 6 month paid placement intern, graciously.

10.51 When I had originally applied for the role of ‘lifestyle intern’, I hadn’t realised the ‘lifestyle’ was that of a Guantanamo bay resident, sponsored by Aldi.

11.00 Solicitor intern is so bowled over by being in a fashion cupboard – this is her first ever internship – that she is fingering the static of the nylon, and saying polite things about the top, as if her mother in law had just bought it for her.

11.12 Another intern turns up. Paid intern prods her into the fashion cupboard with a singsong explanation that we have been overbooked for work experience, but she’s sure we’ll all get along. At least 3rdintern has the decency to look manically depressed.

12.00 Lunchtime. I walk down a freezing cold Oxford Street to M&S, buy a really expensive salad that tastes of mung beans and arse, eat it at a bus stop and cry.

13.00 Back at the office. Intern number 3 has come here all the way from Birmingham and is sleeping on a friend’s sofa in zone 6. We don’t get expenses, apparently, so she is paying out of her arse to have the pleasure of sitting here.

14.19 Apparently there is a free coffee dispenser! I get through 4 shite machine coffees in under an hour and sit counting ceiling tiles, wondering whether my boyfriend will still fancy me when he knows I bailed on his romantic minibreak to Berlin to get high on caffeine and stare at clothes made by children in sweatshops.

14.57 Drink even more coffee, worry that they might try and give me a job if I hang around much longer.

15.37 Paid intern pokes her head round the door and asks for a volunteer. I practically tread on the heads of the other two girls to get to her first, and am given the honoured task of photocopying ‘real life’ stories from the last year’s worth of magazines. For anyone not in da bizz, the real life stories are the ones that start ‘my uncle molested my bichon frise and now we have lost our benefits’.

16.55 We are allowed to leave. Walking past a life sized cardboard cut-out of a reality tv ‘star’ in just her pants who recently got admitted to rehab.

17.04 I decide I would rather work in PR than journalism if this is what journalists spend their time worrying about.

17.14 I am on a packed bus with steamed-up windows, crackheads, and angry businessmen in shiny suits. A man with a cat on his shoulder tries to lift my skirt up, and I debate dropping out of uni and working at a supermarket, where at least the cardboard cut-outs wear clothes.

The next morning I last half an hour before telling them that I would rather insert their cardboard cut out into my nether regions whilst simultaneously being water-boarded with lukewarm instant coffee than spend another minute in their fashion cupboard. Nobody puts baby in a fashion cupboard. They don’t look particularly surprised, or maybe they just had too much dodgy Botox to emote properly.

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