Thursday, 9 February 2012

Zoning out the 'Zines

Working in a small market town, there aren’t many things to occupy your lunch hour with. Once I’ve examined library, visited elderly relatives or examined the cake selection in my favourite cafe, I’m done. There is, obviously, the ever (un)tempting option of joining the other rag-tag-and-bobtails in the park for a fag by the war memorial. I do not do this. Because I have been raised A Good Girl (despite the exploration of a few seedy side alleys of life).

But I do haunt the magazine aisles of the very useless WHSmiths we have in town (note to managing director of said shop: Sort Out Your Shelving And Displays They Make Me Very Angry Indeed).

After a cursory glance at the women’s mags (Why Doesn’t He Love Me?, My Waistline and Me, Stop Being Afraid of Your Breadmaker, I’m A Feminist And Still Like Pretty Shoes, Ooh Look Here’s a Sparkly Thing To Take My Mind Off Just How Sucky Everything Else Is), an even more cursory glance at the men's (Knockers 2: This Time They Bounce!) and a despairing glance at the children's (PinkPinkPink!, CarsCarsCars!), I move to other sections.

Let’s pass quickly over the travel mags shall we? One hardly needs the Lonely Planet when Norfolk is on this year’s calendar: as lovely as Norfolk undoubtedly is, all I shall be needing is directions to the beach and the pub.

There is always Country Living, as I live in the country. Mind you, the longer I do, the less relevance this magazine actually has to my life. It is the Location Location Location of the magazine world: pretty places, homes far beyond my reach and people that make me desperately faintly want to punch them when they complain about the fact there is another rooftop viewable from their converted loft space.

Hobby magazines are fascinating things, providing you skip past the men's 'hobbies'. Apparently they can't learn properly how to tinker with their car engine/motorcycle exhaust or camera unless some thin little thing is draped over the bonnet/bumper/handlebars wearing nought but the ragged denim hot pants and tight vests so beloved of middle-aged men thinking about engine tinkering. Every time I see them, I feel cold for the poor things - can't be warm enough for them: look, you can see their nipples! Freezing cold, that's what they are and all to make sure some chap's cam shaft is correctly working. One day I shall have knitted enough squares to apply them judiciously over those young females concerned. 

Ahh but now we move on to Women's Hobbies - clean, wholesome things with no reference to oilings (nope, if you can see an oiling reference, you've gone too far, you're in Cosmo territory...come back a bit), although why there is the need for quite so many on the same subject is a puzzle. Why, if knitting is your thing, do you need Knitters Weekly, Monthly, Knitting for All, Knitting for the Bourgeois, Communist Knitting, Knitting Periodical, Yarning, Wool Talk, Knit Easy, Knit 'n' Stitch, Knit Stitch 'n' Bitch, Expert Knitter, Beginner Knitter, Knicker Knitter, Picky Knitter and, because there just will be somewhere, Organic Knitting? I imagine that for the religious among them, there is also the Holy Knitter and Hair Shirt Quarterly.

The more obscure titles like to alliterate: Outwardbound Opticians, Nursing Newts, Museums & Their Mad (actually that's the current working title for my own fledgling publication). Tempting as all these titles are, I do the usual: pick up a copy of Private Eye, stick my tongue out at Grazia and Hello, refuse the half-price chocolate WHSmiths seem to be obsessed with (seriously, what is with that? No I don't fecking want a chocolate orange for 99p) and head out, reeling a little, into the hilly, chilly street. 


  1. Great writing Tonia. I read less & less magazines due to blogs, I do miss them though. This month have succumbed to Elle, which I very rarely read but they had a free mascara so sucked in, plus pretty spring pastels seemed warming in these arctic times.

  2. This post made me laugh! Every now and then i'll get the urge to buy a glossy magazine and i'll stand there in Smiths inwardly wailing "there's nothing here for me!". Then I by Uncut or Empire and to find them I have to go to the Men's Interest section, like women wouldn't be interested in music or films. Thank God for blogs. Tempted by that free mascara in Elle though!

  3. I did try reading Oh Comely for a couple of months but the fact it seemed populated by the impossibly 'kooky' and hip and the title made me snigger (in an admittedly childish way) has put me off.
    I think it's time for a magazine revolution!