Saturday, 25 May 2013

My Life In Magazines


(I got the idea for this post from Twitter friend Katie Oliver, who very kindly said she didn't mind if I nicked her idea!  Here is her post:  http://katieoliver.com/ko/?page_id=27)


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I adored magazines, all through my teens, twenties and early thirties.  I loved reading the beauty articles, sure that if I did all the stuff they said I would be beautiful - now, of course, I see that their purpose is just to get you to buy the products.  How jaded one becomes!  But buying Cosmo, Elle, Honey, etc used to be such a pleasure of mine.  One thing I really enjoyed was getting the new copy of Slimming magazine and reading it whilst eating a bag of assorted toffees.  Don't you just love all those obese-to-slim true life stories - wow, did she really eat all that??!  





I rarely buy magazines these days, because I don't particularly want to read about  how to get my man, or, when I've got him, what he might or might not want to me to do behind the bedroom door... neither am I interested in career vs children articles, as I am past the age where I give a stuff, and the last time I made anything from a cookery article was in 1985 - the malibu milk jelly with the consistency of a rubber tyre was quite enough, thank you . 

I'd like to share with you now, though, my magazine memories - some of them you might remember well!


 


When I was a child, my sister and I used to get June & School Friend every week.  We actually got it between us - I can't remember us ever arguing about who read it first, though - maybe it was automatically Julia, as she was the eldest!  I can't remember anything about it at all, apart from one story called 'Swimming To Fame', about some girls who competed in swimming competitions (duh-uh!).  I was fascinated by all the different strokes, particularly the butterfly.  Didn't do me any good - I never got past half a width with a rubber ring!

From this children's comic we moved on to Jackie, which we got from about 1968 to 1971. I was a bit too young for it (age 9 in 1968) but young teenage magazines in those days weren't as they are now; the most risque thing you might read about was whether or not to snog on the first date.  



What most people remember most about Jackie is The Cathy & Claire Page - yes, the problem page!  How can I make him fancy me?  Why hasn't the boy I met on holiday replied to my letters?  How I longed to be grown up like those 13 year olds, wearing white lipstick and bell bottom trousers and going out with boys!  Then there were the pin-ups on the back page - long forgotten names like Jack Wild, Ben Murphy, George Best... and David Cassidy, of course!


By the time I was 12, I had my own magazine.  Every Saturday evening, all to myself - the wonder that was Fabulous 208!  Dig that groovy frock!



Fabulous 208 was, as well as being a teenage mag, all about Radio Luxembourg (the frequency of which was 208) - I used to listen to it all the time, with DJs Kid Jenson, Dave Christian, Mark Wesley.  I adored this magazine.  Saturday evening when it arrived was the highlight of my week. My friend Sally and I used to ring each other up to discuss what was in it, cut out the pictures, etc... ahhhh!  These sort of magazines often featured some column allegedly written by a pop star - I think there was a David Cassidy one in Fab 208!  My friend Sally used to insist it was really by him - even then, I knew it wasn't.  Oh dear, maybe I was born jaded...

Another big favourite around this time was Disco 45, which was, if I remember rightly, just full of all the lyrics to songs in the Top 20 - I never sang, but I think I used to follow the lyrics when I heard the songs on the radio!



There - it was all of 5p!!

I then moved on to more girly magazines, none of which existed after the mid 1970s: Valentine, Mirabelle, Petticoat - and Romeo, and Look Now, but I couldn't find any pictures of them.  



It's a pity these pictures aren't a bit bigger; then you'd be able to see that they cost about 8p!

I must just move back for a moment here; I remember going to stay with Julia's godmother in the summer of 1971, when I was just 12, and sitting in her conservatory sneakily looking at a copy of her glossy, glamorous Vanity Fair...



.... and reading this article, furtively looking up to make sure no-one caught me reading it.  It was about a new book that had just been published called The Sensuous Woman, by some bird called 'J'.  In the interview with her she talked about oral sex - and I really, really did think that oral sex meant talking about it....

Back to the mid-seventies - who remembers those magazines you could buy in weekly parts, followed by all the binders to put them in?  My first serious boyfriend used to buy Supercook ~



We collected them faithfully, every week for what seemed like ever - I think I made about 4 things out of them!  Jiffy Tuna Surprise, Arroz Con Pollo, American Apple Pie, and some thing with pork chops and wine - and that's it! Jiffy Tuna Surprise (or just JTS) became our staple meal... tuna and onions and garlic and basil and curry powder, I think - I can still taste it! 

In the late 70s I loved Honey, and 19 ~




.... and, of course, the wonderful Cosmo!  That magazine taught me so much - I kid you not!  In this article I've tried to pick issues with the covers that I actually remember, and I loved this one in 1976 of Jerry Hall; I believe it came out around the time she danced with Bryan Ferry in the video for Roxy Music's 'Let's Stick Together' - that was in her pre-Jagger days, of course.



In the 1980s I also used to read Company (one of the best, I think), and Options - and I was also introduced, by my boyfriend of the time, to The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers...  



... and I remember, one day in the late 80s, my brother coming round with this brilliant new publication he'd discovered when he'd been up north :


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 Viz- the magazine only puffs don't buy

It was only about twelve pages long at the time, until it caught on and became available everywhere.  I still buy it now, sometimes.  My favourites are Modern Parents, The Critics, the Drunk Bakers, Mr Logic - and then there are the old favourites like Sid The Sexist, Paul Whicker the tall vicar - and the Pathetic Sharks!  I still love the Top Tips, too :)

From about 1988 to 1992, going to see rock bands became a huge part of my life, and I used to buy Kerrang every week, along with Metal Hammer sometimes - though that was more heavy metal orientated, whereas I was into rock rather than metal, though of course there are areas where the two cross over.  Q came out around then, as well, though that was more of a serious music magazine.



..... and yes, I was at Donington 1990, though I'm not on the cover of this issue of Kerrang, which is probably just as well!

That's pretty much when I stopped buying magazines on a regular basis.  I moved onto Marie Claire for a while, but I found that, by then, I just wasn't very interested in many of the articles.  I find that many of them in such magazines as Red, She, Elle, etc sound as if they're going to be really fascinating - and then they're just not.  Either that or I've read them all before - or just, quite simply, that they're aimed at people younger than me.  So often I've bought one, finished reading it in about half an hour and thought well, that was a waste of £3.60, or whatever it cost.  Much of them, now, is just advertising - and I don't just mean the adverts.  I think the best women's glossy now is probably American Glamour, which I do get occasionally - I'm not ready to go onto Saga yet!



I'd love to go to one of those fairs where you can buy old issues of the magazines and comics of your youth.  I've still got a Jackie annual from 1973 - but I'd never sell it.  Well, it's got an article written by David Cassidy in it.....





Sunday, 19 May 2013

How do you mend a broken heart?


I've been thinking about this a bit lately, having read a couple of books which feature a fair bit of heartache - and also writing my new novel, some of which is about the pain of lost love.


This has made me think about my own romantic past - and cringe a bit, too.  



It's 40 years (Jesus, that long??) since my first kiss, which is, I suppose, where my, um, eventful love life started!  Although I have experienced a few times the shock to the system, the period of adjustment, the loneliness and all the rest of the emotions that go with the end of a relationship, I've had my heart badly broken just once - and it was so bloody awful it had quite an impact on me and made me much more empathetic towards others who go through it.  I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.  But I got over it, and went on to be 'better off without him', as people tell you you will be (and no, of course you can't see it at the time!)

When I thought about it in some depth again (nowt like 'writing what you know!') I realised there were a few things I did that really helped me get through it.  So I thought I'd write about it in the hope that even one of them might help someone else who's going through it now.

Names changed to protect the innnocent!

I met Nick when I was 30, and we were together for 6 years, living together for 4.  In 1996 he left me for someone else, though I'd suspected he was going off me for about a year.  I had never been so completely in love with anyone before, and did not feel that strongly for anyone again for quite some time afterwards.  When he left me I collapsed; I remember actually falling against the wall when he finally drove away.  I couldn't eat; I really couldn't, I retched when I tried.  I couldn't sleep, and the pain was so bad I didn't know how I was going to bear it - hey, if you've been there too, you'll know what I mean!  But in stronger moments I kept telling myself, every day I live through this is a day closer to getting over it.  I remember looking out of the back door onto the sunlit garden on the 3rd day (it was a Monday in late  May) and thinking, it's like this now, but it won't always be.  One day I will get over this, and then my life will be better, because I won't have to worry about losing HIM anymore - he was one of those men who was very hard to pin down...!

I'll start off with something positive - I lost the stone (or possibly more!) that I'd piled on over the past year and went blonde again (he'd liked me dark) - suddenly I looked and felt more attractive, and that did wonders for my confidence.  Even in my depths of despair I found myself trying clothes on that previously I couldn't get into, and thinking, wow!!!  This is usually the first good thing about any break up.... now, the rest of it....

About two days after he left me, I had a phone call from his mother, herself a veteran of many relationships.  We'd never been particularly close but we liked each other well enough.  As I was drinking my morning orange juice spiked with the vodka I needed like I needed cigarettes and air to breathe at the time, I listened to her.  She told me these things, which I took on board, and I'm so glad I did:

Don't take him back, if he asks.  He will find the shock to the system of the break up hard too, and may have a few 'oo-er' moments, but unless he can really show you that he's made a genuine mistake, he'll probably do it again some time, because the things that made him want to leave in the first place won't have gone away - and then you'll have to go through this all over again.  (Incidentally, Nick started playing around behind the back of my successor after 3 or 4 years, too - I just thanked my lucky stars I was out of it!)

Get out and start living your life again as soon as you possibly can.  Every day you do this is a day you're building up your new life apart from him/her. 

I'd also like to add these few words of wisdom of my own, because they're things I did that helped me - look, I won't keep doing the him/her he/she thing, okay?  If you're a chap reading this, just read the 'him' as 'her'!  I can't comment on what it's like when you have children, because I don't have any, and this is nothing about the practicalities of a break-up - just the way to help mend a broken heart.



Right - the first thing is, refuse to see him.  He may want to come round to talk to you, just to see you, because he will miss many things about your relationship, even though he doesn't actually want to be in it anymore.  Every time he leaves, though, you'll be hurting as bad as you were at the beginning, all over again.  Nick still wanted to see me; I told him on the day he left that it wasn't going to happen. I knew I wouldn't be able to handle it.  He tried; I just didn't answer the door.   This was before mobile phones were everywhere, thank goodness; must be so much harder now, with texting, Facebook and all the rest of it.

Watch the drink.  Everyone drinks a bit more when they're heartbroken; what I did was drink enough to blur the edges a bit but not enough to get totally slaughtered. On the one time I did, in the company of a friend who had a drink problem and wanted me to drink with her, using "it'll help" as an excuse to get me drinking as much as she did, I felt much, much worse, and then had to cope with the hangover depression in the morning, too.  Also, you run the risk of making those late night drunken phone calls that make you feel such a prat the next day.

At the beginning, you're in shock.  All your friends rally round.  In some ways this is the easy bit.  Give it two weeks down the line, though, and they'll expect you to be pulling yourself together a bit.  This is when the grief bit sets in, and sometimes you have to go through this alone.  Don't bore your friends witless. If you show them you're helping yourself, they'll be more likely to help you, too.  I had terrific, supportive friends, but they had things going on in their lives, too; I couldn't expect them to 'be there for me' all the time.



Rebound relationships - I'm in two minds about them.  I started one 6 weeks after Nick left, with someone who was totally wrong for me.  2 months later, I had to work out how to evict him from my life, too ...  I don't blame myself for this, because he was a twat, but I don't know that I should have got into the situation in the first place.  On the other hand, it turned my focus away from my broken heart.  So I'd say don't do it if a) you're just using the person, because it's not kind or b) it's someone who exhibits the sort of behaviour from which you would usually run a mile!  But a fling never hurt anyone, and can buck up your spirits.  Unless intimacy with someone else is likely to make you cry because it's not him, of course, in which case you're not ready for it.

This is a cliche, but it really works.  Think about all the bad things about them.  Nick was unreliable, late for everything, and a compulsive gambler.  He was horrendously untidy.  His gambling went in phases, but when he was 'on one' I would spend hours in casinos; it was the only way I got to spend any time with him.  Once he left, though, all this was over.  Hurrah!

Even during the first month, when your pain is at its worst, you will have whole half hours when you don't feel quite so bad.  Use these times to do something that will help you in the long run - things like packing up any of his remaining things and putting them away somewhere where you can't see them - thus, the sight of his favourite soup bowl will no longer set you off on another crying jag when you're in the next 'my life is over' phase!



Talking of getting rid of anything he's left behind, get a friend to be with you when you're doing it.  I got my brother to stand and talk to me in the bedroom while I moved all the furniture round - I made it look as much like a different room as possible!

Your favourite sad records.  Play them and cry.  Everyone has the ones that work for them - for me it was Aerosmith's 'What It Takes' and Thunder's 'Today The World Stopped Turning' - that title actually made me cringe to type it!  It's a bit of self-indulgence (especially coupled with the aforementioned carefully controlled drinking) that can help, just a little.
 

Make yourself look as good as you can.  Spend those lone, lonely evenings doing your nails and trying out different combinations of clothes, organising your wardrobe, plucking your eyebrows, applying your fake tan - whatever!  It sounds superficial, but looking your best never did anyone any harm, and increases your confidence.

Most women lose weight and have something fab done with their hair after a relationship break-up.  But it's such a bad idea to start deliberately turning up at places where you know he'll be, hoping to 'show him what he's missing'.  He knows what he's missing, he's seen it at its best and its worst and all the stages in between, and he's decided he doesn't want it anymore.  If you're just doing it to show him how great you look, and that you don't care, for your pride's sake, then yeeh-hah! Arrive there with a new man on your arm too, why not, it'll make you feel marvellous - just don't expect it to make him fall in love with you all over again!

When you're having a bad day, go to bed.  Have a long bath with lots of bubbles.  Wear a big furry dressing gown.  Sunbathe.  Do things that make you feel physically comfortable.  It won't make the bad day good, but it might make it just bearable.  I used to sit in the garden drinking my (weak!) vodka and cokes and crying.  The warmth of the sun on my skin made me feel better - oh, and I got a tan without noticing I was getting one, which was a bonus!  Don't try to do anything socially that you don't feel up to - it'll make you feel worse.  



If you go out to work, and it's at all possible, take some annual leave in the early stage.  Or explain to your superior that you need a bit of time off, and say why.  Collapsing into tears at work is horrible, and you probably won't be able to do your job properly anyway.

And finally.... once you're over it and you've moved on with your life (whether this takes 3 months or a year), be there for other people like they've been there for you - it might not be the same people, of course, but try to use the experience to help others through it a bit.  I don't mean to sound preachy or like some ghastly Pollyanna type, but doing this really is a way of getting the positive out of an awful experience.  I remember one day, about 3 weeks after Nick left me, I was sitting at home on a bright sunny morning feeling as though I wanted to end it all, when I got a card in the post.  It was from a friend of a friend, someone I hardly knew, but it was just a nice card to say that she was thinking of me.  It made so much difference to that day - it made me cry (in fact it's made me feel a bit teary thinking about it now!) but it helped SO much.  It made the day bearable.  

I hope this has been a help to anyone who is suffering at the moment.  You WILL get over it, and be happy again - maybe even happier than you were with HIM!



Amen!!


Note: I met up with 'Nick' again in August 2013, having not seen him for 10 years; he got in touch with me through a mutual friend.  We still got on like a house on fire, but then we always did.  I really noticed, though, how I'd sort of 'moved on' but he hadn't - he was still starting up relationships without thinking about anything but momentary gratification.  He was currently single, and sleeping in his brother's spare room.  When we met we were 29 & 30 - we're now in our early 50s.  It was really nice to see him though!  At one point he said to me "I think our relationship ended because it was so intense at the beginning that it couldn't have remained that strong".  I said, "No, Nick, our relationship ended because you started shagging someone else."  


And who says women aren't the practical ones???!!