Coming into work, I sit opposite a woman reading Psychologies. This always makes me feel very self-conscious (we work on it with the reader in mind, my sales figures tell me that increasing numbers of people are buying it, yet, somehow, seeing somebody with a copy is always a shock), but also irresistibly curious. I end up staring, trying to see which pages she lingers on or flicks to first, and which she passes over. Was that arched eyebrow a sign of approval or disdain? She catches me staring and I become ostentatiously interested in the contents of my handbag.
Into the office to do what I always do first and last thing: catch up on reader emails. In my whole career I’ve never received as much response to a magazine as I have here. This morning’s crop yields some interesting and detailed feedback on the current issue, and the usual daily email from a man who is very cross that Psychologies is ‘aimed at women”. ‘You are probably the kind of woman who thinks men aren’t interested in these kind of subjects, after all, only women think and feel don’t they,’he spits. Sheesh. Does Sam Baker get this at Red? Is Jeremy Langmead harangued by women who want Esquire to be more gender neutral?
To Paris, via the miracle that is Eurostar. I always get a good lunch in Paris, but today’s is even better as the Paris office take me somewhere swanky to celebrate my recent PPA editor of theâ€ˆyear award. There’s champagne and a melt-in-the-mouth seven-hour lamb, but I pass on the foie gras, to my hosts’ bemusement. ‘No one really eats this in London,’I say, ‘It’s considered very, you know, cruel”. Cue group Gallic shrugging: ‘Yes, and your point is?”
Back in time for an ‘opinion former roundtable’arranged by an advertising agency, at which several journalists and retail gurus have a nice dinner at Meza in Wardour Street and talk about body image. Met Annabel Meggeson, editor of the scandalously short-lived Shape and tell her I think her publishers have let her down badly.
I have a budget meeting first thing, which is like a meeting with an old-fashioned bank manager, explaining to our managing editor that yes, I do know how over budget I am, and yes, I do have plans to pay back my overdraft. And yes, I do know there’s a credit crunch on. Next is the cover meeting, a happier though much more prolonged experience. Sometimes I wonder if spending half an hour deciding whether ‘get out of your comfort zone’or ‘leaving your comfort zone’is better, is really a way for an adult to make a living.
Have a morning meeting with my publisher, Judith Secombe. After the usual debrief on sales, marketing and advertising, she screens our new DVD, featuring me in bits of it. It is almost unbearable to watch. Why do I look so scary? What was I thinking wearing that jacket? Why do I sound like a shrill 12-year-old? This bothers me so much that I commission a feature on it: why do we hate the sight and sounds of ourselves on tape? If you want to know, it will be in the September issue.
In the afternoon I reply to a whole batch of reader emails and write this week’s blog entry for our website, then rush home on time for a change: my daughter is back from university for the summer and we are having a family dinner to celebrate. Even her brother, a monosyllabic emo in the middle of GCSE hell, cracks a smile.
I was born on the 13th, and have always considered every 13th of the month ‘my day”, with Friday the 13th doubly lucky. Psychologists call this ‘magical thinking”, and like
virtually everything in psychology, divide into the rationalist, scientific school, which considers it a bad thing, and the inspired flat-earthers like Jung, who think it a potentially very good thing.
In this, as with all psychological concepts, I pick the one I like the best, and carry on believing myself special all day. Have lunch with a fellow editor and have a lovely time, gossiping about which magazines are looking good currently (Elle, Esquire, Harpers still) and which aren’t (Eve, Heat).
Tidy my desk and find – honestly – a £10 note mixed up with an old pile of proofs I’m throwing away. See? Lucky.