IN THE 2002 movie, super-cool uber-spy Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) battles to discover his identity by way of fast cars, beautiful women, big guns, and huge explosions. This has very little in common with what I’ve spent the last couple of years on. There were some cars, and the odd explosion, but that’s about it.
My own Bourne identity begins and ends in the sleepy Lincolnshire market town of Bourne, on the edge of the Fens between Grantham and Peterborough. Here is the headquarters of Warners Group, a publisher of niche magazines for special interests as diverse as railway modelling and bird watching. I was appointed to head the parks department, leading a small team providing content for the outdoor leisure group of titles, in early 2013.
The two main magazines are MMM (motorcaravan motorhome monthly) and Caravan, each of which required written and photographic content for two sections totalling about a dozen pages each issue, every four weeks. I also produced material for Camping magazine, Which Motorhome, and Your First Caravan, as well as for the website outandaboutlive.co.uk and weekly or monthly email newsletters going to up to 60,000 subscribers. In addition to these editorial jobs, I managed the Premier Parks campsite marketing scheme.
It’s been quite a blast, taking me to every corner of the British Isles to research and photograph travel destinations, the Palace of Westminster and the RAC club on Pall Mall for receptions, and taking part in activities from attending music festivals and clambering around tree tops to riding on a steam railway and taking a swanky Airstream caravan to the Lake District. I was one of the judges for the Caravan Club’s prestigious Tow Car of the Year awards, spending three days at the Millbrook test circuit, and have met and chatted to celebrities including wing commander Andy Green, the outright world land speed record holder, and Helen Skelton, adventurer and former Blue Peter presenter.
But what about those explosions? Well, there was the time when the office, converted from an iron-framed malt house, was struck by lightning. Sparks flew and circuits got fried, but the main casualty was the air conditioning – which went off in April and came back in October… shortly after the end of a long hot summer. Never a dull moment!
UPDATE Feb 2015: Despite Warners’s eagerness to dispense with my full-time services a couple of months ago, on the last-in-first-out principle and in the face of what I’m reliably informed is an ‘interesting’ new focus on profit, I’m happy to report that my talents are still in demand there. I’ve accepted and completed a number of commissions from the company for freelance articles on travel and motoring since I left, with more in the pipeline. This suits me just fine – writing and magazine craft are my main strengths. The pointless bureaucracy and overt marketing support that became too large a part of the staff function never sat easily with my editorial position.