Media: A Moment with Marquis

Thirty years ago this very day I started my first job in Ray Morgan's media department at Benton and Bowles. Good God!

I was a trainee TV buyer under Derrick Southon. Ray and Derrick went on to create Zenith Media some 13 years later - but that's another story.

A week later, Richard Eyre joined and a few weeks after that a jolly girl who liked a pint (vodka usually) with the boys. Name of Christine Walker.

None of us had the first idea what we were doing but it was a good lark and somehow Derrick eventually got us - kicking and screaming - to buy something like the right spots at something like the right price. I was let loose on Younger's Tartan Bitter, whose slightly desperate copyline was "Worth passing a few pubs for" - a not very subtle admission that "our distribution's crap".

Once I had proved to Derrick that I could add up a column of figures on my shoebox-sized calculator (no computers, just pencil-written schedules), I was promoted to Procter & Gamble. Derrick informed me with more than a hint of malice that if I fucked up, my life wouldn't be worth living.

Every night you had to send new TV schedules up to Newcastle in a sort of sealed diplomatic bag. Approved schedules came back the next day. On day one, I sent off the bag, on day two it came back. But it hadn't actually been to Newcastle because I had failed to change the address label. I'm sorry Derrick - please forgive me. I never dared tell you at the time.

The people who did know were the awe-inspiring media managers at P&G, Gareth Morgan (no relation to Ray) and a chap called Bernard Balderston.

And they say media is a fast-changing world!

Boy, did we work hard - designing elaborate paper darts to fly across Knightsbridge and sail over the wall into the barracks of the Household Cavalry; endless quizzes set by Peter Shaw, a warm and funny man whose erudition made him the world's most unlikely TV buyer; or "indoor winter Olympics" (unknown to me my most pristine ski-jump landing witnessed in disbelief by Bruce Rhodes, the agency's chief executive).

Ah, happy days.

Gone and forgotten? Absolutely not! Recreated and pored over year in year out at the annual B&B reunion. Almost all those mentioned above, and a few more besides, are loyal attendees. Ray Morgan is in his seventies now - though you'd never know it, he looks exactly the same as he did back in 1975. He'll outlive the lot of us, the old bugger.

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