There just aren’t enough global epidemics these days. I hadn’t thought this would ever be something I’d find myself saying, but today I am definitely wishing a little more plague and pestilence upon the world.
Wanderlust has recently gone from being a bimonthly to publishing eight issues a year. A strange number, you might think, but the British public likes to plan its travels in the darkest, grimmest depths of winter, so we’ve put on an extra issue either side of Christmas. For a small independent publisher this is a huge step – when press day only comes six times a year it is a BIG deal … and now we have to deal with eight of the buggers.
One of the problems this has thrown up is that we’re struggling to fill some of our regular slots -for instance, our half-page Health News, which details outbreaks of infectious disease around the world. Our expert, Dr Larry, tells us that there haven’t really been any in the month since our last issue. The world is a pretty healthy place in October 2004, apparently.
This week, I’m in charge on the mag.
My editor, Lyn Hughes, is moving house so when the phone rings at 2pm and someone from the BBC asks for the editor, I take the call. There’s been a bus crash in Jordan and between seven and nine Britons have died. The BBC wants to interview someone about the country itself, and what the tourists might have been doing there. I always feel a bit shallow saying what a lovely place somewhere is after the latest horrific accident has been reported, but it’s important not to give somewhere totally negative press in the wake of a tragedy that will probably damage its tourist industry anyway.
News on the Jordan car crash has gone quiet today and we’re glad. The country is a favourite of mine and it would be a shame if it got an undeservedly dangerous reputation. In fact, I’m going there next month and we’re bundling a calendar showing the highlights of the country with our New Year issue. Free Jordan calendar with every issue. Surely a strap-line like that has got to sell a few extra magazines to the unwary teenage male? Maybe we should put the magazine in a modesty bag… hmm, something to mention to my publisher…
Spend the day with our designer and picture editor looking through images we’re sending off to the repro house today.
What should have been a relaxing weekend has started very badly. My sister-in-law was hit by a motorbike last night. We got a phone-call from the hospital at 10.30pm. It turns out she’s OK-nothing worse than severe concussion and some stitches, but for the first few hours there was the possibility she might have suffered some brain damage. Spend the day visiting her.
Do some freelancing for Trail, Emap’s hill-walking magazine. I write up a Peak District walk I did last weekend.
It won’t make me rich, but it makes me get out of London every month or so and I’m a sucker for anything to do with mountains.
Wanderlust: now eight issues a year
Spend the morning coming up with a plan of attack for the World Travel Market next week. It’s the biggest schmooze-fest of the year for the industry; for us, it’s two days of hectic running around meeting tourist boards, PR agencies and tour operators to discuss news and possible features for the coming year. In between, we are duty bound to have meetings with VIPs – tourism ministers or state governors.
The sole purpose of this, from what I can gather, is to make them feel VI; our real business is done with their London offices.
But it’s not all fun. There are the parties too. Top of the list this year are a posh wine tasting in the Travellers’ Club and an Arizona party on the walkways of Tower Bridge. Unfortunately, they are both on at the same time.
Grand Canyon or Grand Cru? I plump for Arizona.
Feeling pretty confident. It’s press day tomorrow, and our work load seems very manageable. The only problem we’re having is finding a cover. We thought we had one, but when it came back from the repro house it was too dark. After a frantic trawl through our favourite image libraries, we find another. We love it until we find out that it’s been digitally manipulated-a big no-no for us; you can’t move the pyramids to Botswana just because the sand is a nicer colour.
Our readers notice these things.
Then it all starts to go wrong; we liked the manipulated cover so much nothing else we can find seems any good. By 4.30pm, I’m thoroughly frustrated.
Then, thank God, Lyn pops in.
At last, the buck does not stop here, there’s someone for me to pass it to.
Two hours later, and we have two covers we think will work.
I am a machine: article is put in front of me; read it, check it, correct it; reprint it and sign it off.Another article put in front of me. Same again.
All … day … long …
By 5pm I’m exhausted. I am not capable of another decision. I’m thoroughly sick of every single word of this issue. But here’s the beauty of magazines, at 5.28pm the postman comes and off it goes. Tomorrow, we can start afresh. Suddenly, the world seems a happy place. I findmyself not minding so much that, this month at least, it’s largely disease-free too.