Having graduated from sub-editor to chief sub to Deputy Editor, I became Editor of Time Out in 1992. I took circulation up to 109,000 copies a week, and won four BSME awards for editor of the year. We had a lot of freedom – as long as sales continued to rise – and it was enormous fun. I always sought to do things differently. Shunning hotel-room interviews, we went out bar-crawling with Blur, crucified Tricky, put the Beautiful South on a double-decker bus round London, played football against a team of celebs. We did special issues on drugs, gang crime, teen sex, weird sex, actually almost every kind of sex. We pioneered multiple covers on North v south London, or Bob Mortimer punching Vic Reeves across the cover divide; we had a gatefold sleeve of stars recreating the iconic Reservoir Dogs walk for an issue on suits. I’ve written about these times more extensively in The Guardian and the British Journalism Review. Or for a sample of a lecture I recently gave, click here.



Logo © AOL

I joined AOL as Editorial Director before the turn of the millennium, at a time when the internet was not yet mass-market: even many professional people didn’t yet even use email; Google had yet to be invented. The offices were some pokey rooms in Chelsea, and I had 40 staff under me. Just a year later, AOL in the US had bought Time Warner, we had moved to a multi-storey office block in Hammersmith, and I had nearly 100 staff.

They used to measure time in internet years. Like dog years, they compressed seven years of normal experience into one. The pace of change was phenomenal, the learning curve exhilarating and occasionally frustrating. Even so, we managed a top-to-bottom redesign of the entire service, which now had 1.5 million subscribers accessing our exclusive walled-garden content. Though “garden” is too small a word for 17 channels of content from Finance and Travel through to Entertainment, Kids and Lifestyle.

It was also clear to us, in a way that MySpace, Bebo and now Facebook has made it clear to everyone, that social networking was the biggest growth area of the net. Our chat stats were enormous, and we had 300-odd volunteer hosts and guides keeping things friendly.

But then it all imploded. The ridiculously overvalued internet bubble burst. Our American parent, starved of growth in their own country, parachuted in their troops, intent on regaining control and redesigning all the European AOLs in their image.

Time for me to rejoin the “real” world.


I joined the Saturday Times in 2002, initially to edit their arts and ents supp, Play, for a few months. But they had bigger plans: a total redesign of the Saturday package. Being involved in this was a thrill. Working closely with the volatile, brilliant and inspirational Tomaso Capuano, a maverick bass player who is now creative director of Wall Street Journal, we fired off dummies and plans, eventually creating for the Saturday Times two separate magazines, both of which I edited: the A5-sized The Knowledge, a listings guide for London only; and The Eye, which covered home entertainment: TV, DVD, CDs, and your PC. Film was soon pulled into the mix.


But newspapers can never stay still. The next iteration was an über-ents mag, also called The Knowledge, which would pull together the best of those two mags as well as the arts coverage still contained in the Weekend Review. The only problem was that they weren’t prepared to pay for it. As we worked on plan after plan, the page count shrunk by 8pp, then another 8pp, then another. Making virtue of necessity, I said we had to abandon any pretence at full listings, and concentrate on highlights. Innovatively, the highlights would be stripped in for several different regions around Britain (we already regionalised the TV schedules), saving more space and allowing a truly local national mag. We were also the first supplement to run satellite listings in a grid, a technical nightmare to accomplish with Times systems that was solved by the lovely Chris Davalle.

I was and am proud of the mag, which punched above its weight and truncated budget. The picture editor had worked on Q, and got a huge roster of top photographers working for mate’s rates, though the appalling paper quality did not show them to best effect. The art dept were talented and keen to be unleashed. Two years on, the message from up high was, great stuff, don’t go changing (which in fact it all did, a year or so after I left, such are newspapers). But I’m always looking for fresh challenges, so I took one of the barrowloads of voluntary redundancy cash that every couple of years came wheeling temptingly through the office, and tried to make it as a freelancer. As you will see from other sections of the website.





The Editor and Publisher of a proposed arts & entertainment magazine for young people called The Book asked me for assistance on the launch.

As Editorial Consultant, I hooked her up with terrific designers, who had previously art directed Time Out, as well as some contributors. I helped her flat-plan, consulted on the design, wrote several of the features including the cover, and copy-edited the keen, talented young writers who needed direction.

We humbly suggest that the resulting quarterly magazine, which was distributed directly into central London universities and lasted for eight issues, may just have been the best student magazine in Britain. ‘I can’t believe you’re giving this away for free,’ was a typical reader response.



I have been brought in as Editorial Consultant to work on putting together dummy magazines and pitches for new business, for anything between a few days and a few weeks, by top contract publishers such as Cedar, River, John Brown and PSP Rare. On one occasion I also handled the pitch meeting, presenting for half an hour to a conference table of a dozen senior execs.

Should fresh editing challenges present themselves, whether part-time for launches or a full-time position, I am always at the ready… Contact me here