Something For the Weekend

Thanks, first, to readers who sent me words of encouragement in these dark days. I may be out in the publishing wilderness but I’m still writing and probably always will. My dying breath will likely be, ‘Quick, a pen…’

I received a lovely gift yesterday: two issues of Slightly Foxed, that most charming and readable literary quarterly. It was particularly welcome with a grey, wet weekend in prospect and an ugly sea roiling outside my window. I haven’t read Slightly Foxed in years, tsk tsk, but I’m going to buy myself a subscription for my fast-approaching birthday.

I’m very picky about what I read these days. Newspapers seem so lightweight in content in spite of the fact that the weekend editions weigh a ton. Even my old journalistic perch, the formerly steady Daily Telegraph, now runs fashion features dreamed up by people who are clearly out of their minds. Haven’t they noticed the ads for Velcro shoes and stair lifts? Don’t they understand where their readers are at, or do they just not care?

Magazines like the Literary Review seem ponderously up their own fundaments. Cosmopolitan, where I started out in the ’80s, now makes me shudder. SHE, where I enjoyed happy times as a contributing editor in the ’90s, died of excessive efforts at trendiness but by then I was cold toast. And Private Eye just isn’t funny any more.

I do read the Spectator. When it flops through the letterbox I rip off the envelope and proceed as follows. First I look at the cartoons. Then I read Rod Liddle and Jeremy Clarke. I always hope to find a piece by Aidan Hartley too but he doesn’t appear nearly often enough. He is currently leading the field for my Best Opening Sentence of the Year award, with, Last night the hyenas made off with our fudge cake. Unlikely to be beaten, I’d say.

The rest of the magazine I save for the many train journeys I take, rattling around Dublin Bay on the DART.

The Spectator fits snugly in my bag and so will Slightly Foxed. Sorted.

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