B is for: Birthdays. A WW birthday was a revelation. I had been warned when I first joined the magazine but, even so, it was all a bit overwhelming at first. The cookery dept baked a cake for you, there were cards and presents galore, everybody crowded round your desk to sing “Happy Birthday” and almost everyone on the magazine came out to share your birthday lunch. The cakes were pretty special and specifically geared around the recipient so, for me, it was nearly always chocolate and for my boss, who had wheat and dairy allergies, a glorious edifice of ices in various hues and flavours (she didn’t really get on with sugar very well, either, but hadn’t the heart to tell them by then).
Leaving cakes could also be quite – er – interesting. One year, a red-haired male colleague was presented with a rather startling concoction complete with a naked icing sugar man reclining on top, anatomically correct down to the last detail and with extra embellishments, also red, to match the hair on its head.
The first sign that the cutbacks were biting deep came when an apologetic email was sent round to announce that the cookery dept were no longer able to bake cakes for everyone. So that’s “S” for “Sad end of an era” plus “S” for “Spoilt”.
B is also for: Books. It was Christmas every day for us when a small avalanche of jiffy bags would hit our post tray. Whether they contained early book proofs for forthcoming titles or the finished published product itself, each package was pounced on with great glee. Since leaving, I have found myself on a bit of an ongoing book-buying spree which, as someone tactfully pointed out, was most likely me trying to “fill a void”. I tell myself it’s all research but, whatever it’s called, it’s certainly filled my bookcases.