Those were the crazy days

I’m faced with some tough decisions in my job as the editor of Drinks Bulletin.

Yesterday I agonised over whether to choose a story about a Game of Thrones inspired Johnnie Walker whisky being released or the one about Baileys Strawberries and Cream hitting Aussie shelves?

Only one of them could go into the newsletter I send out every Friday morning to the drinks trade.

I couldn’t run both because there’s also one about flavoured vodka making a comeback, which mentions Smirnoff winning a Master award for its Peppermint Twist variation at the 2018 Vodka Masters. Johnnie Walker, Baileys and Smirnoff are all Diageo spirits … It wouldn’t look good if three of my eight newsletter stories featured the same drinks company.

In the end, I fell back on my weekly magazine heritage and went for the Baileys. I figured it was the mainstream choice … though I’m a bit nervy now because Game of Thrones whisky would be a big hit with the blokes.

Arrrrghhhhh!

It’s a long way from the days when I was choosing which celebrity to put on the cover of Woman’s Day.

Although that got surprisingly dull when my only choices were Princess Mary, Oprah, Bec Hewitt and Jennifer Aniston.

It had been decreed (not by me) that they were the only stars who sold enough copies to qualify for the cover.

Geez it got tedious after about 52 covers … actually, it got tedious after about 12 …

All these years later, their faces still stare out at me from the supermarket stands. Actually, not so much Oprah any more. But for a while, Oprah’s see-sawing weight was a national obsession.

I talk to the covers sometimes, as I unload my groceries onto the conveyor belt. I’ll admonish them for still battling the same issues as they did when I was a tabloid editor.

Move on ladies, move on!

But no, Jen is still getting back together with Brad, Bec is still divorcing Lleyton, Princess Mary keeps threatening to have another set of twins … although her babymaking crown is being passed to Princess Kate.

In my early years at Woman’s Day, I was a bit more out there with my choices.

During my second week as editor, I threw a grenade into the mix by running Liza Miinelli’s wedding to David Guest on the cover, complete with Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor in the bridal party.

I took one look at those bizarre photos and I was hooked!

It didn’t do too badly either, not the biggest seller, but definitely not a dud.

It’s actually pretty terrifying trying to decide who to put on the cover of a weekly magazine. The pressure to keep those numbers up is huge.

Back when I was in the hot seat, the first day supermarket sales figures arrived at around 10am on a Tuesday morning. You’d feel pretty panicked as you waited for the email because the figures would be a strong indicator of how well the magazine was going to perform.

If they were crap you were stuck with the disaster until you pumped out the next issue. I hate to think what it’s was like working on a monthly magazine, where you’re stuck with a dog for four weeks.

I was at a company conference when Woman’s Day produced its highest-ever selling issue under my editorship – I think it was around the 560,000 mark, but don’t quote me.

The cover featured Princess Mary’s wedding and my legendary deputy editor, Lorrae Willox, a former weekly magazine editor herself, was at the helm in my absence.

My sole contribution was to sign off a faxed copy of the cover at the hotel where I was staying.

The only other thing I remember about the conference is having a six-month-old baby in tow … and a husband who wasn’t coping with being “the handbag”.

It’s funny the memories that stick in your mind.

He spent six months as a full-time stay-at-home husband, then worked part-time until we broke up. While he loved spending time with our kids, he didn’t enjoy the way “dickless dads” were treated back then.

I think people are way more accepting these days but, for example, he was completely shunned when he tried to join the local playgroup after we moved across the bridge.

Stuff like that wasn’t easy.

Add to the mix a new mum flirting with PND while simultaneously editing Australia’s second biggest selling magazine and you get a pretty tricky combination.

No wonder I’ve blanked out most of it!

Anyways, back to booze. Fingers crossed I got it right about Baileys.

Though it’s not my lead story. That goes to “Champagne’s 2018 vintage predicted to be best in history.”

The French are pretty giddy about their grapes this year and Australia is one of the world’s biggest export markets for fizz.

Keep your fingers crossed for a 35% click- through rate on my newsletter. That’s the kind of number that gets me excited these days.

Cheers!

Postscript: So it turns out the early front runner for top story is really one I should have seen coming: “CUB sends special VB delivery to Pink”. Doh!

Song of the day: This old chestnut by Cold Chisel “Ita”

 

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