Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday



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Turning up

Back in January when the third lockdown hit, our offices went quiet – although not silent. When you have a radio station, live news shows and a magazine to dispatch to the printers, you have to keep a core group together. Now, with infection numbers down and confidence up, the editorial team is fully back and the hope is that this time we get to stay united. Why does it matter? It’s more creative, it’s easier to finesse projects in real time that are moving at pace, it’s simpler to spot when someone needs help and it’s also more likely that you will avoid errors creeping into the process.And then there’s the selfish bit: I like seeing these people. While we may not have a watercooler, we do have watercooler moments when films are recommended, stories unpacked, funny moments relived, ideas shared. That’s not to say that our teams in distant offices should be out of the loop – we make sure that there’s a weekly Asia-bureaux call with Fiona and Jun in Tokyo and Nina and James in Hong Kong (the highlight this week was Fiona explaining why a new cologne is based on the smell of sumo wrestlers). But, as too many reports continue to appear declaring that office life is doomed, here are just three scenes – and a few, perhaps, unsung stars – that made Midori House the place we all wanted to be this week.On Wednesday, the first copy of The Monocle Book of Homes came into the office. It’s exciting when a new book arrives. And it is stunning. It was designed by our art director Sam Brogan and he’s done an amazing job. I have seen the focus and the late nights that he has poured into every page and every decision. Sam brought the book over to show me the second that it landed and he was beaming. How great, I thought, to have such pride in the things you make. Really, you had to be there.On Tuesday we recorded episode 500 of The Urbanist which will air this coming Thursday. It’s a show that I get to host but booking the guests, honing the debates and stitching together my fumbled audio is down to two people on M24: producer Carlota Rebelo and senior studio manager David Stevens. For this landmark show the tables are turned and I am the guest – the result is both a celebration of almost 10 years of the podcast and a gentle roasting of yours truly. As the recording ended, David came in and opened a bottle of champagne. Just two of the people who have helped us keep the radio live and essential over the past 18 months, even while their families are far off in Portugal and New Zealand.Yesterday we just about sent the June issue to print. We have a tight squad of sub editors who have to proof and improve every story, make sure that credits are in order, take in rounds of corrections from editors and late-filing writers, and so much more. They have perhaps the most stressful role to play. Running it all is chief sub Lewis Huxley whose calmness, precision and focus are unbelievable – and he’s dapper too. There was a moment this week where I just thought, “How does he do this?” There were people hovering around him, print-outs being dropped on his desk and then I arrived with even more changes. But there’s something in this intensity, in this ability to make to-the-second decisions on press day, that just works when we are all present.I should also mention Nic and Louis, two young writers who are now also flourishing as editors (they pull together this Saturday Monocle Weekend Edition for starters) and who you see making the most of every project, every interaction that they have with the world of journalism – that’s hard to replicate on Zoom. Then there’s Joe, Hester and Molly on the books team who this week were already deep into planning our new title for anyone who wants to start or grow a business – and who were able to nicely corner me when they needed feedback without sending an entreating email.This has been a week of interviewing people face-to-face for the new internship programme, planning for the launch events at Midori for the homes book with Hannah and, just as importantly, being surrounded by clever conversation, people passionate about making magazines and radio shows, and a feeling of nourishing camaraderie. That’s why for me – and many more people – the future is not being sat in the spare bedroom all day but in the office reborn.

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