F is for: “The fish and chip run.” A colleague who was lucky enough to live near the famous Sea Shell Restaurant in Lisson Grove, which Princess Diana apparently occasionally visited, could be seen most nights, her coat tightly wrapped around her pyjamas, racing round the corner for her takeaway supper. I was shocked – she was so proud of her appearance the rest of the time. Couldn’t she just have waited and got changed after her mercy dash? We will never know.
In fact, I have always been puzzled by those who like to change into their pjs or whatever night attire they favour the moment they get home in the evenings. A quick head count in the office revealed there are a lot of them about, surprisingly. I once got into quite a heated debate with someone who did this. She had a husband and family – what did they think of it all? I wondered. Didn’t they think it a bit odd? A strange example to set her children? I would have been really worried if my own mother had done this, thinking she was quite possibly heading for some sort of breakdown (in fact, my mother wouldn’t even go to the door to pay the milkman if she was still in her dressing-gown). What if her husband suddenly said: “Let’s all go down the pub,” or: “To hell with cooking. Let’s eat out,” or: “Shall we go and see that film tonight?” And what if someone came to the door? “What if they did?” was her only response, which was no answer, really.
F Is also for “Filthy Friday” – a term I coined when we shared office space with the knitting dept and it became clear that, by the end of the week, we were all slightly hysterical from tiredness and the stress of deadlines and also somewhat frisky, lapsing into telling dirty jokes and eyeing up the post boys and any male from the IT dept who was faintly fanciable. Or maybe that was just me. This bit of frivolity came to an end when we were able to work from home more often and, not surprisingly, everyone’s preferred day at home turned out to be Friday. It’s difficult to be filthy when there’s no one else around to laugh at your double entendres. Oo-er Missus.
I can’t leave “F” without mentioning “Fiction”, of course. A hugely important part of the magazine (“Famed for its fiction” was a regular coverline back in the day) and my happy place (mostly) for 29 years – that’s just about half my life. What’s not to love about a job which enables you to announce that you read for a living? For an avid, speedy reader such as myself, it was my ideal job. A “friend” once said to me that it sounded really boring to her but she was a nurse, so you can understand where she was coming from and can be excused that remark – just.