An A-Z of magazine life: W…

W is for: Wooden spoon award for stirring, which was presented to someone who was famed for it, at his retirement leaving party, in the days when we gave proper party, along with a rather nice wooden bench for his prized garden, where he would presumably be spending most of his well-earned rest.

W is also for: Women’s magazines. People may sneer (someone I know refers to them as “comics” and my boss’s old neighbour once declared they were “all rubbish”), but they continue to be a source of help and information, escape, entertainment, inspiration, support, comfort and companionship for many, including myself and long may they continue – in whatever format.

W is also for: “Work is more fun than fun.”  The message that one editor had pinned to her personal noticeboard.  Try telling that to someone on the minimum wage.  But I get the general idea and it certainly was, mostly, for me.

W is also for: Working from home. A bit of a mixed blessing, this one, although people used to say I was mad when I said this and one woman said longingly: “You can do your washing!” This was just about the last thing on my mind at the start, although I came to appreciate the convenience in the end. On those endless dark, cold, wet and windy mornings in the winter, I would wave my other half off from the doorstep, trying to look sorrowful, sympathetic and supportive. “Byeee!  Live the dream!” I would shout out into the darkness, or sometimes, helpfully: “See ya!  Wouldn’t wanna be ya!” Kindly and thoughtfully shining my torch down the path, so he wouldn’t fall into the shrubbery.  Then I would firmly shut the door and go off to make myself tea and toast in the warmth and comfort of the kitchen, before settling down with a pile of manuscripts to plough through and comment on.  Yes, it was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

People would say to me things like:  ”It must be lovely to be able to stay in your pyjamas all day,” to which I would reply: “If I didn’t get dressed and go out at lunch-time every day, I would go nutso.” Or words to that effect.  What IS it with people wanting to wear their night attire during the day (see a previous post)?!  Neither would I ever have the telly on for a bit of background noise and “company” as others said they did.  I know I wouldn’t be able to concentrate.  Each to their own.  A friend who is retired says that she makes sure she gets out of the house every day, even if only to walk up the road and back for a newspaper, or to stop off for a drink in a café. Wise advice.

Working from home means, of course, a distinct lack of company and banter and, when things went wrong with the online office system we all relied on so much, as they sometimes did, it was difficult to have to deal with them alone and not to be able to run around the office like a headless chicken, shrieking: ”I have 300 emails and I MUST answer them all by lunchtime!!!! Somebody HELP ME!!!!” On second thoughts, they must all have been heartily relieved to see the back of me…

W is also for: Wood, as in Victoria, and “that” song (need I remind you?). On the one hand, it was great publicity for the magazine. On the other, it merely served to reinforce the image most people seemed to have of us – a bit twee and out of date and something to mock and laugh at.  Yet it is far from that (when did you last see a copy?) and is still going strong after so long (1911, as previously mentioned), where other, younger and trendier titles, have fallen by the wayside. So there. All power to the oldies!


Author: Hampton Caught

The rants and ramblings of an ex Deputy Fiction Editor of Woman's Weekly magazine.

3 thoughts on “An A-Z of magazine life: W…”

  1. I love reading these memories. Looking forward to XY&Z and then we will need a book! Can just hear those remarks about women’s magazines. Nobody told me the facts of life! It was by reading problem pages and articles that I gleaned the knowledge from problem pages. I still remember short stories that I read as a teenager. This is not what happens if you read a comic. Work should be more fun than fun, that’s a brilliant statement. And on that note, please start that book now!


      1. Yay! Will be essential reading for every Womag writer and those who’d like to publish short stories. Then there’s everyone who worked in an office for a large corporation in the same era. Looking forward to reading it!


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