Editorial: Open Letter to a Vendor

24 March 2016 Alan Attwood

Editorial: Open Letter to a Vendor


I love it when ideas for covers, or themes for an edition, come from a vendor. It’s happened several times over the years. I once asked one of your former colleagues in Adelaide, who’d been critical of a cover, who he’d like to see featured. “Elle Macpherson,” he replied. “Good idea,” I told him. “Who else?” The response was immediate: “Pamela Anderson.” Hmm, I thought: there’s a theme here. Elle did make it; Pammy’s still waiting.

Now, Mark, this is your magazine: the cars edition, released just in time to coincide with the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. And, as you suggested, it has driver Daniel Ricciardo on the cover. That’s the good news. The not-quite-so-good news is that, I suspect, much of the content inside is not what you had in mind. Not nearly as much about the GP itself as you would have liked, nor have we found room for most of the photographs you supplied: photos from a pre-GP promotional exhibition where you admired a Maserati and got up close to a car Sir Stirling Moss used to drive. But there is, as you have noticed, the picture with you looking like you’re kitted up ready to start the engine and roar away down the track. You see, what regularly happens in the imperfect world of magazine production is that plans change between the original idea and things being sent to the printers. In this case, things shifted when I told the editorial team we should do a cars edition. Did anyone have any stories they wanted to tell? Michael Epis let on that, for quite a while, he only drove EH Holdens, then started banging on about the smell of vinyl. Katherine Smyrk revealed she knew a bloke who was entering the Peking to Paris rally in an old Bristol. And Danielle Gori confessed that her dad used to have a thing about Monaros.

Suddenly we went from having no stories to having…plenty. Stories exploring the way motoring can be seductive, even though cars cause pollution, there are too many of them on the roads and more government money should be invested in public transport instead of freeways. What we have here are stories about passion and history and the way that, in a country as vast as Australia, cars have a big part to play.

But, Mark, you and your mate with the toothy smile, young Mr Ricciardo, won’t find many statistics or stories about the actual GP here. We’ll leave that to the event program or specialist publications – partly because this edition will still be on sale, on streets around Australia, for a week or so after the race has been run and won.

When you were featured on the ‘Vendor Profile’ page in 2014 (Ed#470), before you moved from Adelaide to Melbourne, you opened with “once I was a real wild bastard”. You’ve changed. I enjoy our chats. And if this is not quite what you had in mind, trust me, you’ve fared better than another vendor, Raymond from down Geelong way. Raymond has been talking about entering the “Shitbox Rally”. (You can look it up.) There are no stories on it inside. Then again, the rally’s in May. Plenty of time for someone else to start those engines. Thanks again for the idea.

Alan Attwood, Editor