Editorial: Fit, fabulous and forty

This month we have a birthday to celebrate, so please excuse the party shirt.

by Matthew Gwyther, mt editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

While the editor (45) may be experiencing a mild mid-life crisis, manifesting itself in an unhealthy devotion to Italian clothing brands, MT finds itself in rude middle-period health as it reaches its 40th anniversary. While you've been on the beach this summer, we've spent the past eight weeks combing through back issues to bring you this special edition, which looks back over 40 years of British business and into the future. The wander through the archive was a fascinating experience: watching an intelligent organism find its feet, grow and develop - making the odd mistake along the way as it rode the pricks and the kicks, but maturing into something special - was a true pleasure.

Three things struck me especially. First, what a sorry state UK business found itself in during the '60s and '70s. Managing decline and coming to terms with a post-industrial economy is never easy, but MT charted this painful process with diligence. At times the editorial prognosis was relentlessly lacking in optimism, but maybe Bob Heller, the founding editor, and his team really didn't see much light at the end of the tunnel, as they typed away by candlelight during the three-day week.

Second, what a great looking mag MT has always been. The art direction of the magazine during the '60s and '70s was a delight. While other business magazines appeared dour and conservative, MT really was right out there in the avant-garde. It took us several minutes gazing at the cover of November 1968 before we realised we were looking at an arty shot of a dog foetus in a laboratory flask. What the art team had been on during les evenements is anyone's guess.

In those days, illustrations were produced by Ralph Steadman, Fluck and Law (creators of Spitting Image) and photography by Lester Bookbinder, Clive Arrowsmith and John Claridge. Magazines truly sing when the marriage of words and visuals they offer works together perfectly. We're so proud of MT's art that we're holding an exhibition of the best things since 1966 at the Oxo gallery on the South Bank in London from 13-17 September.

Third, what a great companion for all those in business MT has become.

It never is just business as usual. MT was the first business magazine to realise that business people are human with cares, needs, hopes and fears. We will continue to cater for these, as we head for the half century.

So put aside an hour or two because there is so much great stuff to read - from a revisit to Unilever 40 years after we first diagnosed problems, through our look at women in business over the decades to the interview with Sir John Harvey-Jones with whom it was a pleasure to spend a morning on the Welsh borders.

Finally, don't miss the sensational interview with Soichiro Honda from April 1981 (p21). How many business people have had the guts to admit that they're hanging up their boots in disgust because they've lost their 'sex power' and can't drink enough sake any more?

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