2020: the editor reflects

Nobody escaped unscathed from last year.  Everyone has a list; holidays cancelled, club meetings scrapped or sent online, social events forgotten, diaries empty – the list continues.  Levity and laughter were hard to come by, although such feelings often followed the embarrassment of failing to recognize a friend, a friend camouflaged behind a mask and large furry hat.  2020 was not a lot of fun.

Editors are not immune from these situations.  They, like everyone else, had new challenges to face, new hurdles to cross and, let’s face it, frustrations that are hard to forget, let alone to overcome.

Yet here at The Wychwood Magazine, the year had started so well.  It marked exactly 40 years since the magazine had first hit the presses.  April/May 2020 was the edition to mark the occasion.  Extra effort was spent in encouraging many local organisations to look back over the past 40 years, to recall highlights as well as lowlights, and to record them all for publication in the magazine.  The Wychwood Players, Burford School, and the Wychwood Local History Society were among many who rose to the challenge and responded over the anniversary period.  Our writers responded magnificently to the occasion and a bumper edition was sent away for printing.

Then came the lockdown.  1250 copies of the extended anniversary issue for April/May sat sulking in the editor’s garage.  They looked wonderful, but lockdown measures prevented their regular distribution.  There they sat.  And, though preparation for the following issue continued apace, again thanks to our willing writers, the June/July issue suffered the same fate as its predecessor, doomed to be gathering cobwebs in a garage.  Frustration was mentioned earlier!

Eventually, after much discussion and many suggestions of just how the magazine could be distributed safely by our volunteers in line with the various restrictions,  those  two issues were taken to all subscribers, late, very late, but widely appreciated.  Our troubles, it seemed, were over.

And then came the December/January issue.  The preparation was done, the magazine was full, the photos looked good and, on first sight, all was right with the world.  1250 copies arrived, ready for distribution.  The next stage passed largely unnoticed by the majority of our readers but the word ‘panic’ was not far off the mark.  The reason: several pages, at random, in some of the copies, sported blurred writing, not just a bit blurred but virtually unreadable.  While some copies were perfect, many were not and those many were spread throughout the boxes of magazines.

Every copy had to be checked individually and put in two piles: perfect and rejects.  There were, just, enough good copies to go to all subscribers but fewer copies were available for our other outlets – the local shops, the library and so on.  The newly appointed distribution manager was an oasis of calm as he began to wonder just what on earth he had taken on.

So this much anticipated anniversary year had turned into something of an ‘annus horribilis.’  Looking back, lessons were learned, but perhaps two of the main lessons were entirely positive.  Firstly, all our readers should be immensely grateful to the many writers who, despite all the difficulties and hold ups, have stuck with us, producing a wide variety of stimulating articles, supported by attractive photos.  And secondly, we ended the year with a greatly strengthened committee, with several new and enthusiastic members, keen to continue the work of those who, for the past 40 years, had ensured the production of an attractive and popular magazine.

Perhaps it wasn’t such a bad year after all.

Bob Forster

April-May 2021