Monday, April 30, 2007
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
A return to the Old Vic this summer is on the cards as they’re running Gaslight (aka The Murder in Thornton Square) by Patrick Hamilton. I’ve read all his novels, you know.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Disparate Houseknives. I'll get me coat.
When I first saw Alice in Sunderland advertised it was on a poster in a window of a central London comic shop. I went inside to find out more but as soon as I got through the door I knew I’d never find what I was looking for.
The first thing that hit me when I entered the shop was the stench of sweat from the sort of men who wear heavy long black coats on a hot day and biker boots when they don’t own a bike.
I was the only woman in the shop, my first time ever in a comic book store and what a cliché it was. Yes, I can confirm that comic store guy from The Simpsons is alive and well and living in London. I pretended to browse the books without having a clue what I was looking at, all the while clocking my fellow shoppers.
Most of them were greasy geezers with an intense gaze and a whiff of BO. There might have been a ponytail or two. I scuttled out, amused by the cliché of the comic shop guys but disappointed that I couldn’t find out more on the book.
I forgot about it for a few weeks until a sparkling review in Time Out pointed to an exhibition of artwork from the book at the Cartoon Gallery in London, so off I went in. And when I came out, I’d bought a signed copy of the book, it’s fantastic.
What makes it so special?
To a Mackem, it’s the history. The sensitive and generous way Bryan Talbot has covered the city from back then to now brought a lump to my throat more than once. Who’d have thought a comic book could have moved me so much?
You don’t need to know anything about Sunderland to enjoy this book because it’s also about the artwork, the journalism and extensive research that’s gone into making this one of the most special books I know I’ll ever own.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Before I turned my back on women’s mags, I was a long-time devotee always keen for a fix of my favourite glossy or weekly. And so come with me now, if you will, on a stroll down memory lane for a look at my life through women’s magazines.
The very first mag I ever read was a comic and I can vividly remember my mum bringing in Twinkle from the shops, just for me. I must have been under ten years old. From Twinkle I graduated to reading, greedily, both Bunty and Mandy each week and absolutely loving and taking delight in the wickedly subversive Blind Bettina comic strip. There's a fab woman here called Mel Gibson (yes, really) who did her PhD on girls' comics.
Next, it must have been Jackie which became my bible for a few years, getting all the advice from Cathy and Claire that I never knew I needed. Oh, and then came the biggest leap of all. From Donny Osmond and David Cassidy pinups in Jackie I stepped up to My Guy, the magazine I had to hide from my mother because she didn’t approve. It was racy, was My Guy, it had snogging and girls on the pill. I learned a lot from My Guy, believe me I did. And then through my late teen years and early twenties I was heavily into music magazines so women’s mags went by the wayside as Smash Hits, Sounds and NME became my reading material of choice.
And then something exciting happened, Company magazine was launched as a magazine for the younger sister readers of Cosmo. Company magazine fired up my imagination, I copied the clothes, the make-up, I even knitted up some of their patterns in the ‘80s. I especially remember a fantastic black mohair jumper with batwing sleeves and buttons up the back. It went a treat with black knickerbockers, back-combed black hair and pixie boots. Company magazine even published an article of mine back in 1987, my first ever piece of published writing since getting a poem in my parents’ local Sunday paper.
The logical step up from Company was Cosmo which I’d only ever read – in pop-eyed shock at what women could and did do - in the hairdresser’s while waiting for my mum who was under the dryer with curlers in her hair. I invited Cosmo into my life for a few years although not in the way I had enjoyed Company earlier. Cosmo was glossier, more self-aware, more self-promoting and it carried more advertising. I think I knew then that my love-affair with women’s magazines was coming to an end but when I lived overseas I still had the English Cosmo sent to me on subscription each month, preferring it to any of the no-brainer women’s magazines aimed at the Southern California market. Back in England, Cosmo and I parted company. Part of this was wanting something real, down to earth again after living in the candy floss of La-La land. Cosmo was too candy floss. New women’s magazines had sprung up while I’d been away and Real, Red and Eve became my reading of choice until they too stayed on the shelf in the shop after I realised that I was of an age and opinion now that nothing these mags could ever say to me would be something I’d want to read.
Becoming a mature student on a journalism course involved spending time analysing print media where women’s magazines came under the academic microscope. The more I studied their appeal to the masses of misses, the more they repelled me. I don’t touch them any more, I just said no. Well, ok, that’s not entirely true.
There’s one women’s mag that I do still read. I’ve subscribed to it since Issue 1 and was lucky enough to interview its original editor as part of my degree a few years ago. It’s Mslexia magazine, a specialist journal that comes with a tagline of “for women who write”.
Now, if only there was a mass market magazine “for women who think”.
[Originally written by me for Dollymix]
Monday, April 16, 2007
Saturday, April 14, 2007
[Originally written by me for Dollymix]
Richard Shops are filled with all the pretty things
Soft and lovely pretty things to wear
Come now, pretty things, make the world a prettier place
Come prettier, come buy your clothes at Richard Shops
I hadn’t thought about Richard Shops in years, not until the new ad for Marks and Spencer aired the other week. You know the one I mean, it’s got Itchy Coo Park as the soundtrack, and a pre-pregnant Myleene Klass in her knickers as the USP.