Sunday, 6 July 2008

Hard living

"Every July, Charlie and Caroline Gladstone and their six children, Jack, India, Tara, Xanthe, Kinvara and Felix, decamp from Scotland to France for a summer of bike rides, badminton and campfires"
Easy Living magazine, July 2008

If I had made that up, you would have thought I had gone over the top, wouldn't you. I have copied it VERBATIM.

All magazines for my age group make me dry retch, and yet I buy them with weird fetishistic regularity. I think some part of my subconscious is planning to launch another title in this already saturated market of identikit horrors. I have drawn a number of conclusions from my recent studies which are helping me to target my market with total accuracy. Read on.

1. Women in their thirties and forties cannot cope with titles of more than three letters. Red, Eve, She... I suppose they are too busy having it all. My new magazine(s) will be called 'Hag' (possibly to be followed in my stable of publications by 'Buy', and 'Gin' and 'Why').

2. Women in their thirties and forties (this will need to be abbreviated. let's just say 'WTFs') all wish to jack their lives in and get new ones. So features are always about WTFs who have been ballbreaking career women and they decide to give it all up to run yoga retreats in Goa, or stay at home mums who use their experiences to identify and fill a crucial gap in the market for handstitched, fairly traded, appliqu├ęd, organic whatever the fucks.
Or, option three, WTFs who have a breakdown/medical crisis and then get better. These ones are always photographed looking soulfully out towards some stretch of water with their arms wrapped around them in some Toast catalogue woolly. This is WTF mag shorthand for "bad stuff happened but I have wisdom now".

'Hag' will feature pieces with taglines like "I would like to do something with my life, but I really can't be arsed" or "My family has drained all the life force out of me and I am a spent bitter husk", or indeed "I have to keep doing this god-awful job because magazines have made me believe handbags and shoes are the key to happiness and now HSBC owns my soul".

3. All WTFs without exception believe they have a novel in them. Magazines must feature novelists who have started their career relatively late but are now best-selling and fulfilled and all the rest. These women get to pose sitting in their sun-filled conservatories looking pensive in front of a lap top.
I think Hag magazine could helpfully include a section called 'No, you can't' which would feature embittered penniless unpublished authors brandishing their rejection letters in squalid bedsits. It would be a public service.

4. Since, inevitably, the WTFs cannot ALL change their lives and become fulfilled through the medium of selling French antique bed linen or becoming best-selling novelists, most of the rest of the magazine must be filled with stuff you can buy to fill the void.
WTF fashion must be described as "beautiful and wearable". It is obligatory. If you are in a WTF fashion feature, you better like neutrals, florals, and looking soulful. Expect beaches. And subtle metallic stuff. Bronze and whatever. Or tweed in the winter, and big old pine trees in a big old foresty thing. You get the picture.
Hag magazine could give you aspiration pictures of ready meals and new brands of gin. Maybe control top hosiery.

5. WTFs love: Jamie Oliver, Farrow & Ball, Whitstable, picnics, Cath Kidston, Mini Boden, farmers markets, Cornwall, ribbon, Kate Winslet, Emma Bridgewater, book clubs, linen, Nigella, France, country cottages, stripes, ballet pumps, anything 'local'. Ruddy cheeked children collecting apples in wicker baskets. Gardening.
Hag magazine readers love: Gin. Sleeping. Shouting. Gin.

6. There must be a dreary section on happiness and fulfilment. You know, your children's laughter, the smell of earth after a summer rainstorm, your husband's furry ears, galloping on a deserted beach, possibly painting pottery. Emphatically not handbags in this bit. Which smacks of internal contradiction, since the rest of the mag is crammed with essential stuff to buy, but as we have established, generation WTF cannot hold more than one thought at a time so they will never realise this. Cunning!

We at Hag magazine will not hold out the prospect of happiness, but maybe we could have a 'schadenfreude' section where we get to enjoy others' misfortunes. That might be mildly cheering.

7. There must be a section on food, or wrapping stuff, or tidying stuff or decorating stuff that claims to be "made easy". This relies on an extremely liberal interpretation of "easy", so if hand stencilling your children's initials onto your homemade sausage rolls with edible food dyes you have made from your own homegrown beetroot is your idea of easy, then this will be right up your street. 'Easy', 'simple' and 'Save time' are trigger words for WTFs apparently. At Hag magazine, we know exactly how to do easy and time saving - just don't bother. Really, don't. Step away from the icing bag and pick up the corkscrew.

8. People who are allowed on the cover: Liz Hurley, Kate Winslet, Yasmin Le Bon. Stick to these. Hag magazine cover stars: Margaret from The Apprentice. Every month.

9. Hags can NEVER have too many beach bags/shoppers. Circulation drooping? Couldn't get Kate Winslet this month? Give them another bag! Magic.
Hag magazine cover mounted gifts would be mainly miniature bottles of spirits. And crisps.

So what do you think? Do I have a winner here? Can we brainstorm some ideas?


zoe said...

When's it on sale?

girl with the mask said...

Somebody needs to start a 'other peoples misfortune' blog. That is a great idea.

Z said...

If I were Charlie and Caroline's sixth child I'd be feeling quite left out.

I'd be ideal as Hag's role model. Except I haven't had any rejection letters because I couldn't be arsed to write a book in the first place. Too busy drinking gin and cutting the mouldy bits off the month-old Cheddar in the fridge because I hadn't remembered to get anything in for dinner.

Jaywalker said...

OMG Z, you're right! I left out poor Tara! Sorry Tara. But you did get one of the least ridiculous names. Going to put her in now.

Can I feature you in the first issue? Maybe you could share some 'real simple' tips for demoulding cheese.

Z - I hope I can put you down for a joint subscription to Hag, Why and Gin. You get three months free supply of Prozac...

Z said...

Tara-ra-BOOM-de-ay! It had to be.

I'm rather older than your target readership which does not put me off taking out a subscription in the least.

I could do a 'style without effort' feature for you - the 'style' might be a bit hard, but the 'without effort' comes naturally.

Persephone said...

How about "effort without style"? (No, wait, that's me.) I like the "joint subscription" idea, especially if it actually involves a joint. (Is that legal in Belgium? I know it is in the Netherlands.) And if I'm not big on gin, will guzzling Bailey's Irish Cream directly from the bottle suffice?

Jaywalker said...


What an excellent idea to boost subscription! Yes, everything would feel nicer and easier after the joint subscription wouldn't it. Baileys is good because it is practically a meal as well as a drink. Nice and easy! So yes, you can totally join the 'Hag' club.

justme said...

Sounds like the perfect magazine....perhaps just free chocolate bars as well? I'll buy it!

Anonymous said...

I love you! I laughed till I was near sick. Please add me to your mailing list......

Cait the Faery

Jaywalker said...

Of course you can Cait. Would you like to write a column?

Anonymous said...

Hello again...

I found you againa t last after my laptop near ignitinh last year and all my favourites list disappearing. I still laugh till I cry. As for Pedlars....oh dear oh dear...they really should spend less time on holiday.

Cait the Faery

Anonymous said...

I havent been at the's 11 am for god's sake. I have my glasses on and can see damn all...sorry about the typos. I still love you.


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