Emma

As I approached the entrance to Brixton tube yesterday morning, I had a train of thought which went like this:

Please don’t try to give me a copy of Stylist magazine, please don’t try to give me a copy of Stylist magazine…you bastard! Why didn’t you try to give me a copy of Stylist magazine? Is it because you think I look like a MAN?

After I stopped reading Stylist for the fun of spotting the typos (it gets old quite quickly), I started reading it for the content, but that only lasted a week because it’s full of exortations to spend lots of money on really stupid things, and I am going through one of my periodic phases of disgust at the amount of stuff I have. When I moved from north London to south London three years ago under dramatic circumstances, I left everything behind. Well, almost everything – I kept my clothes, my books and my piano. I moved into a rented room in Brixton and felt the peculiar lightness that comes with leaving everything behind, including most of your responsibilities. I have new responsibilities now, ones I chose myself rather than picking up by accident, but I still don’t have that much stuff. I don’t need any new stuff.

So Stylist magazine isn’t for me. Sometimes I pick up a copy of Metro and read the celebrity gossip, the Nemi cartoon (I am the only person in the world who likes it, but I like it enough to make up for all those other people) and the football pages, along with anything else that catches my eye, but that lasts for less than half of my commute. So I read my book. At the moment, my book is Emma, and it’s the first Jane Austen I’ve attempted as an adult. And it’s sweet and funny and I’m enjoying it, but good grief, everything that happens is flagged up at least fifty pages in advance. And then there’s a hundred pages where actually nothing happens at all. I think it’s the perfect example of style overcoming substance.

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Stylist Magazine

Sorry, I know it’s only been a few days since Davina, but I’m going to rant again. If you’re not in London, Brighton, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, French Connection stores or selected airport lounges, you won’t have come across Stylist, the free women’s magazine which is available in all of those places. It’s been going for a couple of months, and aside from the usual dross about losing weight and looking younger with £60 moisturisers, it seemed relatively inoffensive. Well, depending on how offensive you find the dross about losing weight and looking younger with £60 moisturisers. I suppose I find it more depressing than offensive, but I can’t say I blame the staff of the magazine, who after all can only do what their advertisers tell them.

But I do blame the staff of the magazine for the fact that, every week, there is at least one awful blunder which makes them look like they haven’t a clue what they’re doing. Because I am anal about grammar and style, and because it was the week before Christmas and I hadn’t much else to do, I actually emailed the editor last month and pointed out the three worst offenders in that week’s issue (“lightning” mis-spelled as “lightening”, a caption reading “who want’s to be an eco-warrior?” and an article on Sarah Jessica Parker that began, almost incomprehensibly, “As part of a generation that lived and breathed Sex And The City, few TV shows have had as much impact on us as those four Manhattanites.”)

It was a very polite email, though now I look at it again I notice I did say “you could begin by ditching Dawn Porter and replacing her with someone who can write”. Even so, I didn’t really expect a reply, and I didn’t get one. But I suppose I thought that somebody somewhere might have at least read it and thought “OK, let’s keep an eye out for obvious howlers”.

But clearly, no. Here is an extract from the editorial column in today’s issue.

To add to our misery (thanks a lot), scientists have used a formula to calculate the most depressing day of the year, taking into account weather, finances and motivation levels. They found it always falls on the third Monday in January – which is next week.

As this day of joy approaches, we’ve decided to rebrand Blue Monday. January 25 is now the day to book your dream holiday and swap your January blues for the azure shades of idyllic beaches.

Ahem. Did you spot the problem? Not the one about “Blue Monday” being a load of balls which lazy journalists like to rehash every year because it saves them from having to have an idea, but the one about how many Mondays there have been in January so far? Or indeed, the one about how many days have to have passed before it can be the 25th of a month?

Stylist magazine, you’re embarrassing me now. Please try harder.