Thursday, January 31, 2013

1999: Move on up

The new millennium is just 10 months away, and I've got a new job.

It wasn't without some trepidation that I waved goodbye to somewhere I'd got very comfortable over the past three years, but I wasn't sure I could bear it a moment longer. I loved my work colleagues - we had some great times and we're mainly still pals now, those that I'm not still working with, but I realised I'd gone as far as I wanted to go.

Six months earlier, I had a new boss, my third boss in three years. I'd had two amazing women - the editor and her deputy - who'd properly mentored me in my first job in journalism. They were encouraging, complimentary, enthusiastic about my work and really kind. For someone just starting out, I didn't need barking at. Luckily, they had no reason to bark.

After about six months the editor was moved to the parent company in Australia and her deputy became the new boss.

She was a 42-year-old out and proud lesbian with a lot of issues, who got unbelievably drunk when we went out and always spilled all her secrets. Such a far cry from the corporate professionals I'd had in my previous jobs. She was a hoot to go out with. She'd clutch your face and tell you how marvellous you were. But, oh the people she'd hooked up with.

Having been on TV Times in the glory days of the early Eighties, when you'd go on holiday with people for a week to do an interview. She had had plenty of those stories, some of which had got out of hand in hotel rooms in Cyprus, and some which hadn't, like going to Romania to adopt an orphan with the now deceased star of a big cop show, for example. Did she ever tell us about the time she went to Majorca with a Coronation Street star who insisted on going around topless, despite her elderly mother linking her arm at all times, and wouldn't speak to my boss until the last day and only did her interview on certain, er, conditions? You bet she did.

She was hilarious. I envied her career. But being 10 years older than me and starting her career as a journalist aged 17 when her mum dropped her off at the local paper, and with me coming late into the profession, she had the advantage. But she taught me everything she knew. What to ask when doing 'at homes' (My favourite: Are you known locally?), how to write in a chatty, magaziney style, everything the budding TV journalist could ask for. She even thanked me at the end of each day. (Now I'd like to say I based my management style on her, but I'm afraid I'm just not that kind of person. If I don't say anything, rest assured it's fine, as you'll hear about it if it's not. Okay?).

But then the call came for her to go to Australia too. She jumped at it, but where did that leave us? With a new boss. Someone we didn't know from a best-selling magazine. Things were going to get serious.

And they did. We were all in shock. It was a huge wake-up. Where we'd been coasting along gently, it was time to ramp things up a gear. Features were ripped to shreds, news stories must consist of far more than a pap shot of Jerome Flynn changing a car tyre (though having said that if only we knew the whole celeb mag explosion was around the corner). I learnt a lot, but after three years, I was flagging. It was time to move on. But the real reason was familiarity breeding contempt. While I had very enjoyed the soap world, with a bit of normal TV thrown in, on the phone to Claire King for about the 15th time one day, I realised I'd mined this vein.

So when an acquaintance called about a job on a digital TV mag, I thought I'd pop along and see how the land lay. I got that job. And here was something totally different. Another stage was about to begin. They had the internet. And email.

So what was playing in the office as I said my goodbyes that February? It was this. We always had the radio on, Radio 1, which by now was going right over my head. But this was on constant rotation. Another reason to move on.


  1. A red letter year for us too (can you have red letter years?) I changed to a much better paying job, moved from a flat to a house and Mrs M fell pregnant with our youngest - all in less than two months. Yes AVH song was everywhere, along with..

  2. 1999? I had three jobs and had been working flat out for a good five years, on a kick to prove I was the World's Greatest Therapist. I was just about to enter 'burnout', though stubbornly ignoring the signs.

    Your old boss sounds an absolute scream. Is she retired now, or still going strong?

  3. She lives in Australia now and is by all accounts covered in sailor tattoos. A bit bonkers really, but i'll never forget her kindness.

    Great tune, Mondo.