Saturday, 6 August 2011


I love magazines. I have always loved magazines. I find it bizarre that everyone isn't as obsessed with them as I am. Even when I was a kid I found the anticipation of getting new issues exciting. I remember feeling especially grown up because I was reading the advice columns in Just Seventeen as if I wasn't supposed to. I definitely hadn't reached that very nearly adult age yet. No 17 year old girl would have been seen dead reading Just Seventeen. They had moved on to 19 magazine. And Smash Hits. Oh Smash Hits - giver of so many Take That posters and stickers. Looking back, I suppose it's no surprise that what I've ended up wanting is to write for magazines. I spent all my money on them in my teens and I have enough subscriptions as a grown up that the postman looks at me like he'd happily chop my hands off for making him walk with a hunch, carrying all that heavy, glossy paper.

I never used to have many subscriptions. Even though I knew it cost more, I used to relish the idea of spending an hour rifling through Borders' (god rest its soul) enormous magazine and newspaper section in town. I enjoyed Borders the most because it had such a brilliant selection of North American and Australian magazines. It had American Glamour and Sports Illustrated and Australian Marie Claire. So exotic! I accosted the staff on several occasions for not having any magazines on NHL hockey. Poor people. It wasn't their fault.

The best thing about that Borders was that it had a small, hidden Starbucks inside that none of the hipster teenagers could be bothered to walk up the stairs to. I'd go up there for a coffee and skim through my acquisitions for the length of a grande cappuccino and a slice of blueberry cheesecake. It was my own little weekend ritual. Borders went into liquidation in the UK in December 2009 and WHSmith was a poor substitute. It's smaller, has less choice and just doesn't feel the same. As it happened, three months later my balance disorder kicked in and popping into town to spend an hour on my feet in chaotic book shops was simply out of the question. Asking people to buy them for me was disastrous. They either bought the wrong thing or plonked them them in front of me with a huff asking in an astonished tone "You spend THIS MUCH on magazines?" This wasn't like Borders at all. I switched to subscriptions.

I'd be tempted to say that if I had an iPad I'd change to the digital versions, but I'd only be saying that in the hope that someone would buy me an iPad and to appear more environmentally sound. There's something special about flicking the shiny pages of a magazine that you can't quite replicate on a digital screen. I sound like those luddite book readers resisting the rise of the Kindle and iBooks which, strangely, I think are great. I'm also open to offers of Kindles if an iPad is out of your price range.  Could these hints be any less subtle if I added an exaggerated comedic wink to them?

Last weekend I looked around the place and realised I had piles of magazines in almost every room. I had set out a system to help manage them, but my penchant for hoarding seemed to be scuppering my attempt at being organised. It was time for a cull. I gathered them all up late on Sunday afternoon, threw them on the bed and started sorting through what I wanted to keep and what I could throw away. I didn't really want to throw any of them away. What if I needed that piece on where to buy Christmas presents for under £20 again? I had to be strong.
A small selection
Here is the plan:
  • Monthly food magazines can be kept for one year. Food magazine content tends to run on an annual cycle. Every month, any recipes used will be scanned and stored in Evernote with a few notes on what they were like and how, if at all, I adapted them. Same will go for food-related articles - scanned, tagged and stored in Evernote for easy future reference. 
  • All other monthly magazines (unless they're particularly special) can be kept for six months. After that, they need to go, with any articles that may be of use scanned, tagged and stored in Evernote. This sounds easy, but how do you know what might be useful a year or so from now? Once a hoarder, always a hoarder. Somehow I managed it. 
  • Weekly magazines cannot be kept for more than a month. I simply don't have room for them. 

Tomorrow I have the unenviable task of scanning and storing everything I kept, but what I was left with was this perfectly uniform shelf:

While I was flicking through every magazine, I also decided that two subscriptions needed to go - ELLE and LOOK magazines. ELLE is beautiful and I feel a little more luxe every time I hold it. The photography is absolutely stunning (the Cheryl Cole set blew me away) but its content is aspirational. The problem is that I've realised I don't aspire to it any more. The idea of spending £5000 on a handbag makes me feel a bit sick these days. It's rather have a vintage one for £15. I love fashion and beauty, but I'd rather resubscribe to InStyle, which makes high fashion far more accessible. If I want to drool over the photography, I can do that online for free. Bye, ELLE.

If you've got a pile of magazines you haven't even taken out of their wrappers for weeks, there's a good chance you don't want to read them. LOOK magazine used to be a fantastic guide to high street fashion and beauty. You could see something in there, then go out and buy it the same day. I loved that. Then they started going down the trashy celebrity road, so much so that I didn't even want to open them. In this week's issue there is an appalling article on the fact that Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, is on the verge of a breakdown because she's struggling with the pressure of being a Royal. Apparently she's stressed over the press commenting on her weight and every outfit she wears. What was on the third page of the article? 

Buh-bye, LOOK! 

The nice thing about cutting a few is that I get to add more. I'll be honest, if I could afford it I'd probably have triple the number of subscriptions I've already got, but then, I'd quite like to keep the use of my hands too. Put the knife away, Postie! I've been reading Red a lot lately. I ripped out more articles to save from Red than any other magazine. That's definitely going on the list. The rest is just one big glossy adventure. Feel free to inspire my choices. Crikey, I miss Borders! 

1 comment:

  1. I quit buying magazines because I got so annoyed at all the advertisements in them. But now and then, I buy one and find I really enjoy it. Sometimes I get them from the library! I find that most of my reading today is on the computer. I really love blogs!