The joy of the printed word

I’ve been doing some promotion for the splendidly idiosyncratic Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Guadalest, which has involved hours and hours of on-line searching for magazines, travel websites etc to place articles. A wander through the shelves of WH Smiths when I’m in the UK never ceases to amaze me as to the types of magazines that are available, particularly with the modern relative simplicity in design and production. And they say the written word is dead!

I chanced upon a list of American magazines late this afternoon, when my eyes were beginning to de-focus behind my fogged up glasses, but a combination of my tired state, naturally mucky frame of mind, and just plain silliness at the end of a tiring day, led me to mentally meander as I saw some of the titles and tried to guess what they were about.

I did a double-take when one of the first I spotted was called American Woodpecker. My God, I thought, there’s something for everyone! Actually, it was called American WoodWORKER, which just goes to show how tired by eyes were.

Then came Baby Talk, and I imagined the editor trying to make sense of various adverts and articles written the ‘oobly-doobly, kitchywitchy, chiggybum’ language we use with anyone under two – which, quite frankly, is about the best that quite a few people I can mention considerably over two can handle. I’ve got to admit that I’ve been pretty disparaging of the way we adults (!) condescend to those below knee height when we talk to them, but I finally threw in the towel and got on my knees and entered into the game when I last went to visit my two-year old granddaughter recently. Mind you, given the way she looked at me she probably thought I’d slipped into senility and continued to talk like that just to keep me happy.

Working alphabetically, The Bark came up next, with its strap-line, Dog is my co-pilot, which seemed about as intellectually adept as the oobly-doobly from Baby Talk. I couldn’t help click on their advert for DogJoy (can someone please explain to me why designers these days think it’s rather nifty to miss out spaces between words. It isn’t – it’s just thick!) which features the new Smiling Dog Collection, an assortment of those pathetically saccharin poses that get used as calendars for the simple minded, accompanied by illiterate prose that is supposed to make us think that this dumb animal can actually compose a sentence that says, “Thank you so much for my treat.” According to Patrick McDonnell, Creator of MUTTS “Dogs know the secret to happiness, and DogJoy proves it—my dog Earl smiled all day, and it was contagious. It’s one of the reasons we love our little guys.” Which just goes to show what a friggin’ MUTT he is!

Bay Woof followed, which could have been either another mangy mongrel mag, or something by a friend of Dorothy with a sense of humour. I didn’t bother discovering which. Being Single, America’s Leading Lifestyle Magazine for Singles naturally attracted me, as I am – single, that is, not American (God forbid!). Now, I may be moronic in many areas of my life, and I admit to have been a bit of a toss-pot on many occasions, but no-one can accuse me of being rascist….some of my best friends are Irish. (That’s a joke, by the way.) but while the site proclaims that, ‘according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are well over 60,000,000 singles, all races, between the ages of 20-54, men and women, (the italics are mine) not one white face appears on the covers of the magazine. Surely not all the white singles in the US oi Vey are obese gallumpers; there must be the odd decent looking bit of nooky that can grace the cover. But there again, maybe there isn’t.

I nearly dived into Buff, until I realised that my eyes were playing me up again and the title was actually Bluff, (not worth following through on), and Boom, a magazine for the baby boomers which tells you to Live Life, Live Well, Live Large (what the f*** does ‘Live Large’ mean anyway?) didn’t entice me in the slightest, even though I’m up there with the older element of the boomer generation. They missed out ‘Live Not Much Longer’, and my life hasn’t been so much ‘Boom’ as ‘Bust’.

Which segues us neatly into Bust, The magazine for women who want to get something off their chest. Temptation, temptation…..but when I had a quick shufti and saw that the main article was entitled, ‘Teenage Masturbation. Oh my!’ written by Taylor Momsen, ‘(a) 16-year-old anti-role model, (who) apparently has a loud mouth and a BFF vibrator,’ I realised it wasn’t something I was going to order a subscription to.

Christian Times Blow In seemed a bit of a odd title, which I wasn’t keen to pursue, but I had a quick delve into Cowboys and Indians, the premier magazine of the west. When I were just a slip of a lad, cowboys and Indians was what you played with a plastic gun and a bow made from a bent stick and a bit of garden twine begged from your dad. Oh boy, how things have changed! Far from telling me about ‘them good ole’ days on the trail, pardnuh’, it seems nothing more than an online catalogue for some of the weird and wonderful must-have kitsch that no self respectin’ ole’boy – or ole’ girl, come to that – could live without. I was curious as to what ‘Kickin’ Furniture’ was, other than a chair that gets a good larruping with a boot after a late-night drinking spree, but was a bit taken aback to find that part of the collection included the ‘Lonesome Dove wing chair featuring hair-on-hide leather with a striking zebra print, a down-filled leather button-pulled seat cushion, gator-embossed leather, and bronze nailhead trim.’ Could someone please tell me in which state you can shoot zebra? Or when the say ‘west’ do they mean so far west that you pass over a couple of oceans and some pretty large land masses to find one – ie. Africa!

Nearing the evening cocktail hour, my instincts told me to check out one more site, which just happened to be called Instinct, the US’s biggest gay magazine. Here we go again with the advance apology, and I can say hand on heart that I don’t have the smallest homophobic bone in my body – some of my best friends live in closets (and if you didn’t think the first joke was funny, you aren’t going to think much of that!), and I absolutely promise that what I’m about to say is true, but how come this is the only magazine I looked at that was flagged up by system protection to carry a virus with it, and what else could that virus be but a Trojan!

Time I think, for that gin and tonic.

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, www.derekworkman-journalist.com , and Spain Uncovered

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