Monday, 16 January 2012

My life in magazines

So, I'm pretty excited that I'm going to be talking to Woman magazine at midday - I might nip down to Budgens and buy a copy so I can check that they're with the good guys: their journalist certainly sounds nice but as I keep telling Sasha, you can't always tell the ones that are EVIL just by their spooky red eyes.

One of A's many endearing characteristics when he first moved in with me was that he'd often turn up carrying a copy of Woman that he'd bought to read on the train. Loved that he as secure enough in his own skin not to feel he had to mind other people's daft stereotypes or prejudices. That's what both of us want for our children.

I was thinking about how you can map your life through magazines. I was born in 1965, so mine went   something like...

Pippin... Bunty... Jackie...  Punch... Cosmopolitan... Spare Rib... The Socialist Standard....

the I went to Cambridge and even the Alternative bookshop in Gwydir Street didn't get the SS. I expect I just read Stop Press, which had been Varsity and later switched back.... Punch was an odd one - my dad bought me a subscription as birthday presents, in my early teens, I think. I started by reading quite a lot of it, but by the end it was just the cartoons and that Hunter Davies column called 'Father's Day' which must have been quite groundbreaking at the time.

Then I subscribed to Private Eye for years until I realised it was actually making me a bit depressed. Oh lord - just remembered I moved to Sawston and subscribed to Country Living. I'd forgotten the incidental ones. I subscribed to Uncut for ages but never got round to reading it - oh, and I read Q for a while because I worked in music magazines. And I used to look out for launch issues - I still have the pile upstairs if anyone would like them for posterity. Does anyone remember Minx magazine? It was really, really, good - got the content and the tone spot on: sensible info given in a cheeky tone.

My first magazine job was on Home & Studio Recording, whose wonderful editor Dan Goldstein taught me everything I know about compound hyphenation. Then a great time with Sam Molineaux (now called Graham, tut tut) on Keyboard Review, her editor and me production editor then deputy editor. I did some great interviews - bought a floppy disk reader specially to upload them here but it's still the box five years later.... When Music Maker got taken over by Future I got made redundant and spent rather a sad year as a sub on Sound on Sound, out in the wasteland that was Bar Hill then. Then I got made redundant from there... I'll have to check my professional blog... Oh, I'd forgotten my first job, on BBC English magazine in Saffron Walden. I Facebooked about the horrors of superscripted ordinals and Microsoft's hideous predilection for them recently and an old colleague from there, Donna Sharp, found me, which was lovely. That lasted three months, mostly spent struggling with Ventura, a user-hostile early DTP programme - just as I was getting the hang of the bloody thing the bailiffs arrived to tell us the company had gone bankrupt. So I got made - no! the suspense! - redundant.

After Sound on Sound I moved back into information design. Applied for dozens of magazine jobs but just didn't get anywhere - I remember going to Hanover house for a sub job on House and Garden, and meeting some Voguey girl in the lift who was wearing a miniskirt and black tights who looked me up and down, and I knew I wasn't going to get it. Then the editor said she was working on an anniversary issue and someone had mentioned that the magazine was in a song - had I ever heard of it? I was so gobsmacked that she didn't know the Flanders & Swann number (on YouTube at 6.00 in) that I expect it may have shown. I was right, didn't get near it. Which magazine, that was a bugger - hours and hours of research, interviews and writing tests, it was more work than a bloody O level, then I got a standard rejection letter that didn't even get the facts right – "We regret that you have not been selected for interview" – oh do you, best hold those tears just for a moment; and they appointed an internal candidate so that was a week of my life wasted. I think it was after that I just gave up. I got a job as a freelance sub on Internet magazine, which was fun, then as freelance production ed on some business telecomms titles whose names were so odd I can't even remember them - bet there are copies in the attic. But the staff were lovely - always have been, everywhere I've worked. Do people who care about words by definition care about people?


Anonymous said...

I seriously think you made your "Boy" gender not be known so you could be famous & be in all these magazines. But God made him a boy for a reason. That reason you obviously can't get over which to most people seem as though you wanted another girl so you weren't happy with it so you let everyone think it might be a girl or it might be a boy. So I'll be praying for you.

Ero said...

An American psychiatrist has picked up your story about how you raise your boy. It's here:

I sincerely hope you read it and consider some of it. I think what you're doing to your boy will hurt him.