It’s nine o’clock and the day’s started before it’s even begun. I get to work to find an anxious face awaiting me – the first of our prospective cover models has arrived early. We’re used to casting in this office but this time there’s a twist. The ‘models’ have been chosen from over 500 entries sent in response to the “Face of Healthy”, a competition launched in an attempt to find a ‘reallife’ reader cover model.
After sifting through the good, the bad and the… well, ugly, a couple of precious entries make it onto our Wall of Shame (along with the pictures of naked men who send me their phone numbers and Dale Winton), while 20 others reach the (sensible) shortlist.
Miss Anxious is the first to sit down for a quick chat and a Polaroid, and the steady stream of hopefuls carries on all day. I feel quite moved; meeting readers is always humbling, somehow. I think this is especially true of the readers of health magazines, as they often have a more profound agenda. It’s also a healthy reminder of the real reason I sit at my desk each day (no, it’s not just for the free pumpkin seeds).
Two years into the job and I’m still confused. It’s that intense crossover period between two issues where I’ve got revised proofs going in one end and briefs for forthcoming features pumping out of the other.
It’s what every magazine editor faces, I know, but I’m not a natural multitasker and I have to make a big effort to think ahead. I try what is known in the world of health as the remove-refresh-refocus (aka the Triple R), technique. On this occasion it involves nipping to Starbucks for a coffee and mentally planning the car boot sale I’m doing the next day before returning to my desk with pen poised and brow furrowed.
I spend a varied afternoon looking at some trannies that have just come in from a fitness shoot and discussing layouts with the art director.
I also have a meeting with Healthy’s publisher, Dawn, about some marketing proposals. Oh, and I’m in trouble because I haven’t been filling in my Purchase Orders properly – again!
My alarm goes off at 5am. car boot Day has finally dawned; the only problem is Jason still isn’t back from the party he went to last night and he’s supposed to be looking after our son, Flash. Panicking slightly (I have to do this car boot sale; it keeps being postponed and the corridor has been full of boxes for weeks. Plus, I read in Vogue that car boot sales are the new Selfridges, or something), I call Jason, who luckily still has his phone with him and promises to be right home.
By 6.15am, I’m parked at the side of a road in Kilburn. The good news is I’m car 38 (one of the first); the bad news is it doesn’t actually open for another three hours. I put the time to good use, thinking about work. Naaah, I don’t really. I eat a bacon sandwich and read the latest copy of Heat. By 2.30pm, I’ve shifted most of the stuff and made about £500. Chuffed. To. Bits.
I’m in early to try and get some copy for the next issue written before the day’s distractions descend. I also had to allow extra time this morning, as I’m going low-carb for a couple of weeks (experiment for a diet feature) and it can take a surprisingly long time to find a cheese omelette in Leicester Square.
Later, there’s a bit of a debate about what head to use for a story on the men’s news page. The story’s based on a study which found men who ejaculate more than 21 times a month lower their risk of prostate cancer. The subs team reckon ‘Come again?’ is just right, but in the end we all agree on something a little less risque´.
In the meantime, features editor Amanda has just come across a news story that claims cunnilingus is bad for women’s health “down there” (she’s researching ’10 things you wanted to know about thrush but were too embarrassed to ask’). An animated sense of injustice rises among the female staff and jokes start flying about men winning in the sex stakes yet again.
Spent the morning firing off a couple of briefs and working through a pile of proofs and cromalins at home, before meeting Healthy’s golden girls, Amanda Ursell and Nicki Waterman for coffee and a chat about their pages.
The subject of vitamins comes up, and Amanda tells me about a certain Harley Street practitioner who administers vitamin injections straight in to your face. That’s one way of getting those antioxidants working for you.
In the afternoon, we have a features meeting to finalise the flatplan for January’s issue. The rule is at least eight out of ten of us would have to “really” want to read a feature for it to get into the magazine. All hands are raised for a two-pager on piles (‘We could use a picture of a baboon’) but ’10 Ways to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions’ gets a yawn and an instant dismissal.
It’s the “Face of Healthy” cover shoot.
The four finalists have been informed and should be on their way to a studio in east London. I discuss lighting, make-up, crops and clothes with the photographer and the shoot gets underway. The girls do themselves proud in front of the camera, bearing in mind they don’t do this for a living, and by 5 o’clock, it’s a wrap. I get a lift home with the photographer and while we’re stuck in traffic the amateur photographer in me zooms out.
She patiently answers my questions about lighting, mood and the relative merits of using Vaseline on the lens; she even promises to give me a masterclass on different effects with daylight.
Note to self: must learn how to load film into camera.