I always knew I wanted to be a journalist – it’s a licence to ask nosy questions. But at Oxford, I was a slow starter and only got involved with the student paper in the last term of my second year, rising to the dizzying heights of Features Editor the term after that. So when the opportunity came in my third year to apply for the Geddes Prize, I leapt at it.
I was jealous of the Teddy Hall winner that year, Mary Morgan, who used her winnings to go to Africa and work on something extremely worthy – while I stayed in Oxford and used the money to produce my own magazine, Oxide. It involved cajoling a lot of my student journalist friends into writing pieces after they’d just finished their finals and had sworn never to put a single word to paper again, so it certainly taught me how to be more persuasive.
It also taught me a lot about the craft of magazine production – paper weights and glosses, font styles and sizes, leading and kerning, and all the other minutiae that you don’t notice unless it’s done wrong and you can’t work out why your beautiful publication is now an eyesore. All those skills I still use today in my job as deputy editor of the New Statesman.