General Interest section

I really only ever get to look closely at magazines on three types of occasion (That’s not counting a free, furtive flickthrough on railway station platforms during the odd eon between trains).

The first is at Christmas when I splash out on one or two to help fill the gaps between meals and reruns of White Christmas. I finally realised it’s much more fun to glance at images of scale model aircraft than to waste hours actually assembling them into a sticky web of sprue and decals. This is probably the secret of magazines’ success: it’s fun by proxy. No-one is ever going to buy that £7,000 hi-fi or the £380,000 supercar…at least no-one who frequents my local newsagency looking for crazy ways to blow a whole £4.

It’s odd that magazines haven’t been completely replaced by web content. Can the feel of that shiny paper, the mobility of the reading experience and the hi-res imagery really be what drives circulation of the highly-priced hardcopy? Maybe this will change when phone makers get their act together and provide a) a screen bigger than a baby tamagotchi and b) a service which can actually deliver mobile web pages.

My second magazine opportunity is when I’m at my monthly rendezvous with the barber (sorry, hairdresser). A former source of haircutting recently changed from a spit and sawdust barber’s into a perfumed emporium with tv screens and a £29 ‘fee’ for a dry cut. It also offers a specialist service, at a tenner, called “de-stressing”…something that used only to be available via less respectable commercial outlets. Monthly? yes, my hair seems to grow like scutch grass now that I’m greying out (and I find myself perusing ‘Age of Steam’ and ‘ZimmerQuest’).

As well as the established titles, like ‘Pig News’ and ‘Amateur Masturbator’, we also now have:

‘Popular Weaponry’ -containing this month a how-to guide headlined ‘Build your own home-defence ballista’

‘Name Your Baby!’ -for people who have only imagination enough to procreate

‘TV Gardening Gossip’ -Alan bloody Titchmarsh again. Is he really Carol Vorderman’s lovechild?

‘Brides Unbridled’ -a directory of this week’s celebrity divorces

‘Pension Penchants’ -a bus timetable of the small print for those planning not to die just yet

‘Charm’ -mostly knitting patterns for those hoping to die soon

‘SlutBike’ -low-intensity pornography for retarded 16 year olds (without girlfriends) and an all-consuming passion for Gigabikes (once they pass the test)

‘Pzazz’ -advice to prepubescent girls on how to entrap prince charming using only the free mascara on the cover

‘35-Something’ -advice to 50-yr old’s on divorce lawyers and plastic surgeons

‘What Mortage?’ -definitely one to avoid…100 microfiche pages dedicated to minute comparisons between millstones with which to drown yourself. If there are people who find that interesting, I’m kind of surprised there isn’t a sister title ‘What Gravestone?’ (or even, ‘Why Bother?’)

‘New Arhaeogeonephrologist’ -obscure stuff, something do do with science. Circulation zero, since no scientist can afford the necessary £3.99

‘LadMag’ -obscure electronics roadtest stuff for immature males. Contains words like moolash, shaggret, bimble, blagger and tot (?)

‘Corgi Fetishist
Scouting’ (the last two being actually an amalgamated publication).

Many of these organs of the press now cost more than a house in Newcastle, or almost as much as two packs of motorway sandwiches. Despite this, they are usually over half full of adverts. I’m especially amused by the images in ‘XYY’ magazine of the pouting, emaciated young men in dinner suits and pink leather cowboyboots, stubble and burberry cummerbunds. Then there are the pictures of Greek gods selling aftershave (didn’t the Greek gods have beards?)

Almost every edition these days contains an article on something called ‘ripped abs’ and how to give your man/woman more pleasure in bed (nothing to do with buying him/her a hot waterbottle, I was surprised to discover).

I must admit, I do sometimes have a weakness for ‘BigHouseInTheCountry’ magazine. The doctor’s is my third reading venue (not that I’m ever ill, having subscribed to Monkeygland Monthly). The waiting room collection enables me to look at pictures of houses, from the late 1980’s, that only medical practitioners could afford. It is at least a pleasant alternative read to the landslide of official literature encouraging testicular palpation (for which glossy competitors already exist, I understand).

Soon to be released is a new weekly publication entitled Pruck! -at a newsstand near you. All the usual hilarious online fun, the amusing punctuation, the self indulgent ramblings and inexplicable rantings -only £4.95* .

You read it here first.

* includes free camelskin-effect binders (whilst stocks last)