On Saturday morning I went to my local Sainsbury’s to do a little shopping and enjoy a £5 ham, egg and chips in the café. This has become something of a Saturday treat.
I was browsing the magazine aisle for something to read while I ate and really, truly couldn’t find a single thing I wanted to actually look at. I wasn’t being indecisive, I was simply (and perhaps foolishly) looking for a light entertainment magazine for women which mirrors my values and approach to life.
I wanted something thin enough that it was stapled and not glued together (i.e. relatively short), with a sunny disposition, genuinely interesting, creatively put together which I could learn something from and would make me feel good about myself.
I couldn’t find a single magazine to meet my perfectly reasonable requirements. At all. In a Sainsbury’s so large it has it’s own pharmacy.
Standing in aisle five, I was faced with a neon wall of snarling gossip magazines, supercilious high end fashion, baking, knitting, crosswords or colouring in. Since I don’t wish to be told what to wear, buy or decorate my home with, nor do I want to do some ‘mindful’ colouring in while I wait for my meal, I can confidently announce that there was nothing there for me.
Strolling a little further down the aisle I can report on all manner of leisure activities packaged into a great variety of men’s magazines. A gentleman in Sainsbury’s has the pleasure of choosing a magazine dedicated to all sorts of pursuits, from fishing and vintage cars to digital photography, fashion, golf and anything else he might possibly deign to read about.
While I’m aware women can and do buy these magazines I believe they speak predominantly to men. And while I don’t want to be told what to wear, I do love admiring what other people wear; people who dress with individuality and panache in a way that makes them peacock proudly about the place like a champion. Since I don’t believe I’ll find that photo story in a women’s magazine, we must accept it’s highly unlikely I’ll find it in a men’s magazine either.
There were of course big fat heavy intimidating publications which I do love to attack every now and again, including Monocle, Intelligent Life and The New Scientist. They are truly brilliant magazines brim full of good stuff but I was looking for something meaningful that I could still enjoy in a relaxed manner over a casual ham, egg and chips.
I cannot be the first person to feel the darkness of this gaping chasm in women’s magazine publishing. I am almost certainly not the first person to consider how we might fill it either.
Enter stage left, to the sound of fanfare, the independent magazine.
Having had a look, there is a huge wealth of beautiful, interesting and unusual independent magazines available to the discerning reader. The majority of these independent magazines, although proudly defying fashions and fads, only do so within a slither of human existence which is their own area of special interest; typography, seafood or Swedish couture. Where are the brave independent magazines, talking creatively and with integrity, about life? In general?
I was so angry while I ate my ham, egg and chips (which I had over-seasoned in a fit of rage) that I decided I would do something about it. I’m going to indulge myself and make the magazine I wish I had been able to find in Sainsbury’s on Saturday morning.
My aim, and public promise, is to create a vision for this magazine of my dreams, a small team of people who can help me create it, produce one issue, print and promote a teeny run of said issue and hope to prove the concept has the potential to maybe possibly work. I don’t know quite what I’ll do after that but, you know, running before walking around chickens and eggs and stuff…
I once read (in a trashy magazine, ironically) of a business woman, whose name I can’t remember, who lived her life by challenging herself with the question, what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
I remember thinking about it. The list of things I could trot off in response to that question was and still is endless but right there at the top is the secret dream that is to have a stab at making my own magazine.
So here goes. Because I suppose, there’s a chance I might not fail.