More! Choice of Magazines, Please

The demise of More! magazine earlier this week was something of a shock to me, and presumably to the other girls who read it as a teenager. I hadn’t given it a thought for years, but now it’s not there any more I feel like a little part of my history has disappeared.

More! was a magazine which I always struggled with a bit. It had sections on drugs and sex which terrified me in my (very) early teens, but then by my late teens I was already reading magazines for women. My teenage years went from Bliss, Sugar and J17 to Minx to New Woman and Marie Claire. From the fairly innocent, to articles about strippers conventions.

I remember Minx in particular. That was an amazing magazine, although I still have no idea what age group it was aimed at. It felt real and vibrant and like it was written by the kind of woman I wanted to become, for the type of girl I was growing into. I remember buying the first issue, which had a free diary or something similar on the front. Apparently that was in 1996, when I was 12. 

Maybe it wasn’t the best magazine to be reading at that age, with it’s attitude on various issues that the readers were big enough and ugly enough to decide these things for themselves. However, I was a bold child (as someone in the Irish part of my family would no doubt have put it), so there was no telling me that maybe I could use some help formulating opinions on certain things. Minx certainly helped me formulate the attitude that I can be whatever I want to be, and I shouldn’t let others opinions hold me back. I still try and stay true to that mantra. 

Nowadays I struggle to find a magazine I enjoy reading. There’s Biba, but that’s in French and therefore takes more effort than a magazine ideally should. I find the women’s magazines on the market a bit mundane. Company has had it’s hipster makeover, but it just feels like it’s trying too hard to be cool. Marie Claire has some great articles, but the fashion is too expensive and the pages and pages of adverts put me off. 

I’d love to be able to find the perfect women’s magazine for me, but I don’t think it exists at the moment. I want something vibrant and gutsy and brave. Something that asks celebrities really stupid questions in interviews. I think I’ve tried everything on the UK market, but I’m still at a loss. 

For the time being I’ll have to settle for a selection of other types of magazine. I’ve got Living etc for interior inspiration, National Geographic and The Economist for intellectual stimulation, and I’ve just discovered Mollie Makes for crafty goodness. For fashion and girlie stuff, I’m none the wiser as to where I should be looking. Ideas appreciated!

Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs

This is a Kathy Reichs novel. Narrative, speech, everything:

Snap. Snappety snap snap snap. Snappety snap. Snap. 

This is me writing an angry email:

Clack. Clackety clack clack clack. Clackety clack. Clack. 

What I draw from the similarities is that Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist extraordinaire makes Reichs angry. I can’t say I blame her. Either that or she doesn’t know what a semi colon is.

Tempe Brennan is holier than thou. Especially when thou is Detective Slidell, who she thinks is a swamp monster. Or words to that effect. Considering how bitchy she is about the appearance of everyone she meets (the ladies in particular), it’s confusing that she gets so upset when other people do the same thing. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Tempe is also a recovering alcoholic, which explains the amount of diet coke she gets through. I presume Reichs gets paid per placement. Oh, and she rolls her eyes a lot – because she’s basically a stroppy teenager.

Out of interest, how do you pronounce Tempe? Temp? Tempé? I’m guessing the former, but why bother with the e?

The story itself is formulaic enough not to deserve much mention. It was an impressive feat to make so many characters and so many loose ends link together in such an obvious and forced manner. Occasionally there was an interesting science section. More often there was a dull science section, or Tempe explaining something sciencey to someone with the help of her personal motto – KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid! – I nearly shredded the book when I heard that gem.

The thing that interested me most in the story was the personal relationships and their lack of depth. Tempe has a daughter, who seems quite spiteful. Tempe warns her that her life could be in danger after she receives threatening emails. Daughter storms off in a huff and goes on holiday without telling mum.

Tempe also has a Canadian boyfriend. Or rather, a guy she’s worked with for ten years, who she’s decided to try hooking up with. It took them ten years to get to this stage because they talk in sentences consisting of a maximum of five words. Mostly cracking shit jokes. I’m a bit suspicious of the boyfriend actually. Even after sleeping together and expressing their mutual interest in being together, she continues to refer to him by his surname. Also, at the end he says “s’il vous plaît”, not “s’il te plaît”. Very formal for someone so close. He’s probably just after a visa.

I’m going to leave this here before it gets too clack clackety clack clack clackety clack. 

Sephora Express Nail Polish Remover

I’d love to be one of those girls who is perfectly groomed at all times; or at least some of the time. As it goes, I am not. 

Aside from not leaving the house with greasy hair, my one beauty rule is that my toenails should be painted if they are going on display. As such, I was very keen to try this new breed of nail varnish removers where you just dunk your digits in and wait for the magic to happen. 

During a trip to France recently I picked up this little beauty in my favourite beauty emporium, Sephora. I don’t think Sephora have shops in Belgium or the UK, but they do deliver – delivery is pricey though, so bulk buying might be in order. Oh, and you’ll have to shop in French. 

I’d recently experimented with painting my finger nails, but had never got round to taking the chipped remnants of two weeks ago off. Easily resolved in five seconds for each finger. There’s a sponge inside, soaked in magic nail varnish remover, which surrounds your finger and does all the work for you. It’s quite gentle compared to the traditional products I use, and it doesn’t smell bad either! 

A word of warning. If you accidentally tip the pot upside down while trying to make your little toe reach the sponge, it will drip on your favourite leather chair. 

A 75ml bottle costs 7.90 EUR

The Art of Looking Glamorous while Jogging

Katherine Jenkins ran the London Marathon last week. Something to be celebrated, surely.

She ran it in memory of her father and in doing so raised £23,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support. Even more cause for celebration, right?

Yeah, sure. Unless you’re the Daily Mail. Jan Moir has blasted Jenkins for looking groomed while doing so, and not really sweating very much. I say groomed, she was wearing some make up (less than usual) and had her hair tied back. If I was a celebrity, I’d wear make up to run a marathon – why put yourself out there, knowing you’ll get photographed when you’re looking a bit skanky? Also, what hairstyle should she have gone for? She had a ponytail, along with almost every other woman running. Oh yeah, shock horror – she wore SUNGLASSES! DEVIL WOMAN!

I think Moir was trying to make what can be seen as a valid point. Jenkins does often seem a bit self promoting. However, she’s a celebrity and that’s her job. I’m not a fan of hers, and I have been known to complain about her always being on the telly, but I’m not going to launch some vitriolic campaign against her because of that, and I’m certainly not going to accuse her of running a marathon in a respectable time and raising a shit load of cash for charity for her own selfish purposes. Unless you count remembering your dad as selfish.

The Daily Mail is the biggest new site in the world, I think mostly because the gossip pages are an easy way to pass a lunchtime. It’s always a surprise to see the bland and generally poorly written celebrity articles running alongside the right wing, euro sceptic, racist ones.

In the end something good has come of this – Macmillan Cancer Support have received a lot of publicity and Jenkins continues to receive donations from people keen to spite the Mail.

Bring me my Bow of Burning Gold

I’d love to have found an English teddy for this illustration, rather than a British one, but sadly I couldn’t. The only other option was Paddington, and he’s from Peru. 

The English Defence League held their annual St Georges Day march along Brighton seafront on Sunday, obviously not keen to waste a days holiday on the actual day itself (today). Details can be found in this hilarious report from The Argus.

I was enjoying a peaceful cup of tea by the pavilion when a herd of skinheads with their overweight, greasy haired women lurched past us, having caught the cheap bus down from London for the day. Chugging from beer cans and shouting “we have a right to celebrate St Georges Day”, they met with little argument from the German school exchange in front of them and, disappointed, headed for the pier. Later in the day, I found the same group, who had managed to find their way into The Lanes, singing something which ended with the line “I’m England ’til I die”. Possibly the most ridiculous piece of lyricism since James Blunt wrote You’re Beautiful. By this time, they’d got lost in the winding streets of the city and seemed to be having trouble locating the other racists.

I have no time for bigots and I find the idea of this parade abhorrent, but I also believe in freedom of speech. In situations like this, it’s really tough to reconcile the two. The problem with this march, apart from its distasteful nature, is that it attracts the anti-fascist protesters in droves (1000 of them to 250 EDL), and the police operation of trying (and failing) to keep them apart costs taxpayers a lot of money. It means that the shops along the seafront have to stay shut for a day, and that the vendors on the seafront lose a day’s takings as well. In this economic climate, can we afford those costs?

I think the best way to deal with people such as the EDL is that we should let them get on with their marches and just ignore them. They’ll feel a bit silly if they’re not creating controversy, and hopefully that will be enough to stop the from gaining further popularity. The right wing views of a lot of my generation terrify me and I hope that taking the excitement out of this sort of thing and showing it for what it really is – mouth breathers plodding along a road, singing grammatically incorrect songs.

As I write this, on St Georges Day, I’m left with the confusing feeling that comes from having to explain to my foreign colleagues why we don’t celebrate our national day, why we don’t have a day off, why we aren’t patriotic. The only answer I can give them is that British people tend to only be able to show patriotism in a negative way – other countries are shit, not England is great. It’s difficult for others to understand that our flag has such connotations of thuggery and racism, that we are unable to display pride in it.

I’d love to be able to reclaim St Georges Day as a celebration of what makes my nation great, but for all the time that someone else is using it to tell people to go back to their own country, then I’ll continue to wait.