This month we recorded a podcast with deputy editor Gordon Cruickshank who told us all about the ‘good’ old days working at Motor Sport with Bill Boddy and Jenks. It’s an absolute must if you’ve ever wondered about the magazine’s chequered past.
“Yes, the board meetings. Oh God. We were stuck in this tiny airless room with the wallpaper peeling and more junk piled into it, just enough room for us to squeeze in. The Old Man (Wesley J Tee, the owner of Motor Sport) got very cold very quickly so he would have an electric heater under his desk in front of his knees.The temperature would rise steadily and the sweat would roll off everybody’s faces.
“We would all have these discussions, but the Old Man could never remember who was who, he just went by the seats you were sitting in. So if you were sitting in the ad manager’s chair he would ask how the advertising was doing. It was much too difficult to explain that you weren’t the advertising manager, it was much easier to say ‘slightly below par, but good promises for next week’. And he’d be quite happy.
“We’d go around and have some vague policy discussion, but it was all pointless because the person who was keeping the notes couldn’t read her own shorthand. So she always had to come to me afterwards and we’d make them up, which was irrelevant because the Old Man never read them. There would be quiet moments when he would nod off, but we just kept talking quietly until he rejoined us. It seemed rude to wake him.
“The main reason for the board meeting was so that Boddy and Jenks could complain about what was in the magazine, i.e. anything I had done, because they just wrote what they wanted. They had no conception of making it fit and I was left trying to force it all into the magazine and that meant chopping things. They both hated that. Bod had a way out because anything edited would resurface later, expanded. In the same way that brewing yeast burbles away in the bucket and, no matter how much you take out, there’s always more growing…
“I’d go in there, be lambasted by both of them, then we’d go out and they’d be nice as pie outside the office…”