Working Week: Gordon Thomson


Thursday is the messiest day of the week on Time Out. It used to be messy because of the infamous drinking and drugging (before my time you understand).

Now, if anything, Thursday tends to be literally messy, the office piled high with the detritus of rice-flaked curry containers.

Our chief sub, Martin, christened Thursday ‘Rasa lunchbox day' about a year ago, in honour of the delicious takeaway trays that the local restaurant sells for £3.50 out of a broom cupboard behind its main dining room.

I'll get hammered by the staff for telling you this, but you'll find Rasa's secret takeaway treasure on Rathbone Street, behind Charlotte Street in W1.Tell them we sent you.

I'm flagging at four o'clock for different reasons today. Lunch upstairs at the Ivy (sounds swanky, but the food is actually fairly rubbish) with a group of journalists including Jon Snow, Alison Pearson and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger to judge his paper's Student Media Awards.

My team is looking after the small budget (for small read zero) category, which throws up some gems and, yes, some utter gunk. However, we all agree on the winner, a rough and ready rag which displays a roguish mix of Brass Eye surrealism and early-Loaded swagger (early Loaded editor and co-founder Tim Southwell is on hand to confirm this observation).

We squabble over who should get first dibs on their writers. (I win — it's a London-based publication and therefore on my patch.)

Press night rumbles on late as it's a bit of a bumper issue — a huge features well, plus a 10-page special on our annual Eating and Drinking Awards — so we don't finish until around 9.30pm.

I have a couple of drinks later with my friend the journalist Bill Borrows, who is editing Time Out Manchester for us, and just about to close his first issue. I tease him about the ridiculous cheek-sucking in a picture of himself he's insisted on slapping on the contents page. It was, he confesses, taken at least five years ago. Bill's done a great job with the magazine — it's going to cause a storm up north.


Friday morning means checking cromalins, editing preview columns for our listings section, drinking too much tea, scrounging American sweeties off the lovely picture desk girls and bashing out my editor's note — fortunately for our readers, about the only ‘writing' of mine they have to endure in the magazine.

It's a typical afternoon too — lots of proofreading, copy editing and enjoying the salacious antics of Nelson's mistress on our My Favourite Londoner page. I'm out the door by 6.15pm to pick up my son from football practice. He's down to three favourite teams at the moment — Rangers, Scotland and Charlton FC, in that order — I'm seriously worried he might not see much return on this lot before he's my age.


We send the front section of the magazine on Monday mornings, which means Big Smoke, Letters, Note to Self and Reporter. There's a tricky legal situation to unravel, but our sensational 70-something lawyer Arthur Davidson is on hand to smooth things over.

Arthur is a legend at Time Out — a former Labour MP, jazz fanatic and rabid Liverpool fan, he loves bantering with the staff on the two days a week he's in the office. Everything is pretty much off to press by 1.30pm, at which point I head wearily for the gym.

I've just re-started my weekly game of squash with our marketing director John Luck after a lengthy lay-off and, frankly, I'm months if not years short of match fitness. The aptly named Luck gets his excuses in early during the warmup, citing a heavy weekend on the sauce for his admittedly peaky pallor.

Naturally, it's just a bloody ruse — he beats me 3-2, the five games and 45 minutes passing as usual in a flurry of scuffed backhands, limp-wristed drop shots and oceans of sweat.

I've just about stemmed the flow by the time I chair our weekly Monday afternoon meeting to run through the next few issues. Features editor Alan Rutter brings everyone up to speed on what's planned for the upcoming Theatre Special and we start planning future issues (we're generally clear on what we're doing up to a month in advance). We've got some great writing and superb photography in the magazine at the moment.

By 6.30pm, after a couple of hours of meetings and more forward planning, I've joined my colleagues at Roast in Borough Market for our Eating and Drinking Awards bash.

The event is in its 18th year and is a real fixture on the food and drink calendar. Everyone drinks too much Leffe (the sponsor) and takes home the mother of all goody bags — a Leffe attaché case, packed full of wheat beer delights.


It has to be said, if only for the benefit of my managing director, that I am not usually out of the office this much. But this week sees the autumn arts season arrive with a bang and it's my good fortune — and job — to be invited to these things.

I hop off the 38 bus on Piccadilly outside the Royal Academy for the press viewing of Rodin. Time Out deputy editor Jessica Cargill Thompson is there too. Neither of us seems able to work out how to use the audio guide and I become immediately very confused between the beards of Victor Hugo and John the Baptist.

There's an awful lot to take in, and though Rodin's most famous pieces are undeniably impressive — the sombre but stately Burghers of Calais in particular — we both decide that it's his crisp drawings and sketches that truly inspire. Early coverlines and a long chat with my features editor about what we want up front between now and Christmas occupy the afternoon.


Our recently revamped website has been a real success (truly nobody does London listings with the same kind of comprehensiveness or authority, least of all those atrocious free papers) and developing better lines of communication between online and magazine staff is the main topic for discussion at the weekly Wednesday morning editorial meeting.

We also discuss more crucial matters: where to host art director Micha Weidmann's leaving party at the end of October. He's Swiss and likes tight-fitting burgundy jumpers, which, someone suggests, could end up providing a rather wonderfully odd party theme (he'll be expecting Toblerone gags, so this might throw him).

We start proofreading the features pages from 11.30am, aiming to get half out the door today and the rest (plus Food and Consume) on Thursday. Micha and I tinker with the cover and send it to repro around 6.30pm. Time Out is a seriously well-oiled machine and staffed by a dizzyingly bright group of journalists, critics, designers and picture editors.

Despite my reluctance to let anything leave the building until it's been refined, revisited, reworked and honed to within an inch of its life (sorry subs!), I never doubt for a minute that we won't get the magazine out the door. We've got a tremendous team.

I go to Sadler's Wells for the World Premier of Sacred Monsters, a stunning dance collaboration between Slyvie Guillem and Akran Khan.

It's my kind of midweek event: in at 7.30pm, out by 8.45pm, home by 9.30pm to drink red wine and watch the first episode of Extras on video with my wife.

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