Many apologies that my blog is a few days later than usual; once again, we had huge problems on Friday (my normal blog day) which I think may have affected some of your replies too. From your comments, it seems that you really enjoyed the first instalment of my 25 year countdown to QVC’s birthday on 1st October, Part Two of which will be coming up later in this blog.
There were also some lovely comments about Chris and my engagement. The picture above is of the family and my friends Denise, Steve and Nat ‘on the day’, but as promised, here are some closer photos for you.
Rather than me explain the story behind the design, I’ve decided to quote Alison O’Reilly’s post on Instagram (I’m @juliagroberts if you’d like to follow me on there and Alison is @bijouxjewelsuk):
“Lots of our wonderful QVC viewers and friends will know how important family is to Julia and every element of this incredible ring is of a special significance to her… the spectacular D colour centre stone and shoulders, which are cushion cut, depict her partner Chris (40 years together!) and their beautiful children, whilst the two round brilliants nestled underneath the gallery keep Julia’s parents and their influence on her close by. So what about the lady herself?… Well, the ring is mounted in platinum, the strongest metal there is, and I added this reference as a tribute to Julia who, just like my late mum, really is the glue that holds the family together through all of life’s ups and downs.”
Thank you, Alison, for the story in a nutshell, for the stunning ring, and also for your kind words.
Speaking of words, I hadn’t been able to write since we lost our beloved cat, Poppy, but on Monday I managed a couple of thousand words. If I’m honest, it was a bit of a struggle, so it could delay the next book, but I would rather get it right than rush to get it in to print – I hope you understand if you are eagerly awaiting the next one and I still expect it to be printed at some point this summer.
So, onto Part Two of my history of QVC UK. My memories of QVC’s second year are less clear than the first year and it has been difficult to locate photos – that’s the problem with moving house three times in four years after being in the same house for seventeen years, which we had moved into in September 1994, a year after I started at QVC. I was a very busy bunny at the time, presenting three shows a week for my local cable television channel, producing and presenting features for Sky Sports and working four days a week at QVC. For the first three weeks that we lived in our cottage in Woldingham, I only ever slept there! Thank goodness the children had been allowed to start at their new school before we moved into the area, so I was at least able to help them settle in before work turned really manic!
In the early days, we followed QVC America’s lead in a lot of the products and shows that we did and Oktoberfest is a good example of that. Although we didn’t actually sell beer, which is the reason that Oktoberfest is held in Munich annually, we sold lots of other German products: cuckoo clocks, Hermann Bears, beautiful lead crystal glasses and Hummel figurines all spring to mind. Actually, I have a small collection of Hummel figurines… somewhere!
So we didn’t sell beer, but we did sell wine and I’m pretty sure it was in the run-up to Christmas 1994 that Katy John and myself co-presented a wine show. I am not a big drinker, and after sipping several of the wines on offer, I was feeling a little ‘tiddly’! We were selling a boxed set of two champagne flutes and Katy said something along the lines of ‘what a lovely pair!’ I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression ‘corpsing’ when someone starts to laugh uncontrollably? Well, that was me. We were about to go into the review of products that we used to do at the end of each show (do you remember?) and the giggling became contagious so neither of us could speak. I think they just showed the pictures of the products with music playing!
Speaking of Katy, I unearthed this picture which was taken at a charity ball that she organised at The Waldorf Hotel. Katy isn’t in the picture but I’m sure most of you will recognise the much-younger versions of myself, Debs, and Jilly. Kara is the other female in the picture but who is the man with his ‘harem’? It’s chef, Glyn Christian, who was a regular on QVC presenting cooking shows and products like microwave ovens. It set me thinking about some of our other cooking guest presenters in the early days. Anyone remember Greg and Max? And did you know that Ken Hom used to sell his woks, utensils and cookery books on QVC? I learnt a great stir-fry tip from him which I still use to this day: instead of using stacks of oil when I’m cooking the baby corns (which I don’t like too crunchy) at the start of my stir fry, I use only a few teaspoons and then add boiling water over a high heat and cook until all the water is evaporated, then carry on as normal – brilliant!
Kitchen shows were very popular on QVC… sandwich makers, toasters, kettles and coffee machines all featured regularly, and I must confess the cappuccino maker filled most of the presenters, with the exception of Debs Flint for whom it always seemed to work, with dread when it appeared on our ‘PAL’ sheets (our list of products for the show). There was nothing wrong with the machine itself, but if it hadn’t been cleaned properly from previous uses, the milk would block the flow of steam and it wouldn’t froth. The perils of live telly! Incidentally, there will be a new recipe on my next blog – hopefully Friday!
And while talking about froth, does anyone remember the carpet cleaning foam, presented by David Addis, and also the Big Green Clean Machine? Cleaning products have always been popular on QVC, even when they were doing it ‘invisibly’. What am I talking about? Ionisers, of course, to clean the air that we breathe in our homes – we used to sell them in their thousands. I wonder if any of you still have one?
I’m going to focus on some of the early jewellery ranges on the next instalment, but one of the earliest ranges we ever sold was Butler & Wilson, which we had as individual pieces before Simon started doing the full one or two hour shows! I have a show with him this coming Friday afternoon at 3pm, but it is Butler & Wilson World – the bags and clothes, rather than the jewellery, like the new top pictured above. I wonder what he’ll have to say about me getting engaged?!
Please continue to leave your comments on your memories of the early days of QVC.