Editor’s Diary: Reaching A Milestone

editors diary

What a way to open an Editor’s Diary.

This week, on October 1, I passed a significant milestone: it’s exactly 30 years since I started my career with DC Thomson.

Normally I would have marked the occasion in some way. By baking a cake for the team, perhaps, or treating them all to takeaway pizza for lunch.

But as we’re all working from our various homes, that kind of social activity isn’t possible. So I thought I’d write about it instead!

Staggering changes have occurred in the magazine industry — and in “The People’s Friend” — in those 30 years.

When I walked through the doors of 2 Albert Square, Dundee on that autumn morning in 1990, it looked very different compared with how it does now.

Little had changed in terms of decor or layout since the building first opened in 1901. There were no automatic doors accessed by security passes; instead, we had a doorman who manned the entrance.

Inside was all dark wood, polished linoleum floors and tiny offices along dimly lit corridors. It was a world away from the gleaming, light-filled open spaces you’ll find in the building today. But it had its own kind of charm.

Fireplaces in the offices . . . giant radiators you could sit on when you stumbled in, blue with cold, on a winter morning . . . air that permanently smelled of cigarettes (can you believe people were still allowed to smoke in offices in the 1990s?!)

A time before computers!

There were no computers, of course. Copy was typed on manual typewriters (only the typists had electric ones!)

All contributions were sent in by post. Images were also supplied by post, as photographic prints or transparencies.

Copy was sent to another department by internal mail to be typeset. Page layouts were designed with the aid of scalpels, cutting boards and copious quantities of cow gum,

There was one telephone per office, on the Editor’s desk — and you had to ask to use it. Personal calls were very much frowned upon!

If we wanted to check a fact, we had to consult the volumes held in the library upstairs. No Google in those days!

My first job was in a department called Central Fiction. It was a training ground for new recruits, who were taught the basics of an editorial role in preparation for being assigned to a magazine team.

My duties included writing horoscopes for the local newspaper, “The Courier”, subbing the Dixon Hawke detective story for “The Sporting Post” each week and checking galleys of the serial that appeared daily in “The Courier”.

It equipped me with the skills I needed to make the move to my first “proper” role in magazines, on the Fiction Desk of “My Weekly”.

But that’s another story!

For more from Angela’s Editor’s Diary, click the tag below.

Angela Gilchrist

Angela is Former Editor-in-Chief of “The People’s Friend” magazine. Her passions include cats, Highland ponies, good books, vegetarian food and long walks in the Scottish countryside. Her favourite place to get away from it all is the magical Isle of Skye.