Friday, 13 February 2009

Confessions of a (Reformed) Magazine Addict

In my previous life when I was rich -- well, richer than now -- I loved buying magazines. I've always loved magazines, but in the last years when I was working, they were practically an addiction.

There are the pretty pictures and the vital information about what make up to buy, what to wear, etc. I rarely took their advice, but it was good to know all the same. At some point I think I crossed a line: I began looking for
answers in magazines. With each issue I bought -- having carefully studied the front covers -- I seemed to have a whisper in the back of my head that this one would change my life. Pretty crazy, huh? My only excuse was that I travelled a lot for work and hated the hours it stole from my real life. I travelled mainly on the train. Every train station has a bookstore. I wanted some escape.

Probably my all time favourite magazine here in the UK was
Eve, originally published by the BBC. It was a riot -- outrageous in some ways. They spoke matter-of-factly about the flaws of older women's bodies, but with humour; in "Doing the Maths" they attempted to justify the purchase of a ridiculously expensive piece of clothing, in "1001 Things Women Should Know", they addressed monumental questions like "Why do men have nipples". I bought subscriptions for my Aunt Rita and my friend, Vivien (who in turn bought a subscription for her mother, which I found amazing). There was also a 'How To' section that was full of really useful information about everyday practical stuff, not just about fashion and vanity. Finally, the feature in the front of every issue, "Women Doing Their Own Thing", was about women in business for themselves doing wonderful stuff like having a flower shop or travelling to Mediterrenean countries to purchase olives for their market stalls. The stuff of dreams for a chicken like me!

Eve, was sold to another publisher and it changed. Always having advertised things beyond my conscionable spending budget, if possibly within the actual budget at that time, it just spiralled into the ridiculous. Like most other fashion magazines, the 'articles' became just a poorly veiled list of adverts and I quit subscribing. It's gone out of business now and I say good riddance.

I never found another magazine that was quite as satisfying as Eve. I did actually feel I learned a few useful things from each issue, no doubt a BBC-effect. Didn't you used to feel intellectually superior for a while after watching some Shakespeare or nature programme from the BBC on the Public Broadcasting System? Channel 13 in OKC, it was. Perhaps it's all Sesame Street or the modern version, now, I don't know. Anyhow...

Have I ever mentioned that I tend to keep stuff? The stack on the left is about 3' tall; the stack on the right is of magazines from the 1990's (picture taken in Jan 2009). I expect I'll keep the right hand stack until I think Antiques Roadshow would be interested. The left hand stack is what is left after weeks and weeks of cutting out articles (and recycling the remainder, of course).

I spent a very peaceful, fun day last Sunday with Bill, sitting at the diningroom table with the fire going. Neither of us felt up to anything more than sitting having been ill the previous week. He was dinking around on his laptop; I was sorting through magazine articles, putting them into categories. I revisit my articles with the same pleasure I get from re-reading my favourite novels. If this sounds totally daft to you, consider that each issue costs between £2 and £5; darned if I'm not going to have something to show for that money!

I almost never buy magazines any more, unless of course I'm in a train station or airport, anticipating a long tedious journey...

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