Magazines. Mag. A. Zines. Mgzns.
I’ve been a magazine obsessive since I was little. I guess it must’ve started with sticker albums, wordsearch booklets and the odd shopping catalogue. I was the only person in my household interested in Betterware. I then progressed to spin-off publications linked to my favourite tv shows. Finger Mouse. Going Live! I dreamed of subscriptions to mags that came with their own binder and series of ‘free’ gifts. I never ever got one. I managed to convince my mother, even though still at primary school, to let me read Jackie, insisting it was definitely for LITTLE, little girls. Not one to have the wool pulled over her eyes, my mother would be sure to secretly scan the pages before I got to them, censoring anything she deemed inappropriate with a black magic marker pen. I remember one time, when I’d sneakily spent my pocket money on my first issue of Just17 (at the ripe old age of 12) she censored the problem page, blacking out the word ‘penis’. The pages were glossy and the print kind of raised off the page. I could still read it. P E N I S.
I bought Jackie and Just17 religiously throughout my teens before moving onto the likes of Mizz and More. I thought I was very grown up when I read my first Company and I was most certainly a woman of the world by the time I ripped open the cellophane of my first Cosmopolitan. Of course, I had not actually kissed a boy yet, but I was well equipped with tips and dos and don’ts and hots and nots should the opportunity arise. It became apparent from the plethora of ‘Dear Agony Aunt’ letters from geek girls like me that I wasn’t the only teen reader to be living some sort of romantic life vicariously through the pages of Just 17 and its like. The ‘Dear Agony Aunt’ pages were always the best bits, let’s face it.
I kept every single magazine in a big stack beside my bed and when the stack got too big to stay tidily upright, I stored them in stacking boxes instead. When the magazine boxes started to take over my bedroom, I had to make a cull. I scoured each and every issue I’d collected, ripping out pages I wanted to keep. I painstakingly catalogued them according to topic – beauty, boys, fashion, beauty, boys, fashion – punched holes in them with my red metal hole punch and stored them carefully in a giant ring binder. By the time I saw fit to part with my giant ring binder of teen girl fodder (I regret this moment every day), I’d already accumulated a tonne of music magazines – from Smash Hits to Select to NME and Q. A whole new tower of magazine boxes had been building under my windowsill.
Recently, I parted with two boxes of Q magazine but I continue to hoard (and grow) two baskets of other titles. Some people tend to plants and vegetable patches. I cultivate my magazine collection.
One time, about 11 years ago now I guess, I spotted an advert in the job pages of The Herald. I can’t remember the exact publication now, but Teen Mag X (let’s call it that – though already I’m regretting calling it that as the ‘X’ makes the whole thing sound much less wholesome and way more seedy than I’d intended) were looking to recruit a junior journalist. I wrote a covering letter to beat all covering letters and posted it off to Teen Mag X. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to write a letter like it since – though I’m hoping I might muster the same ‘I REALLY WANT THIS JOB ooomph’ again soon. Much to my utter delight, I was invited to attend an interview in Dundee. Or was it Aberdeen? I think my parents may have worried that this writing lark was a silly flight of fancy and that I was pursuing the opportunity for mixed up reasons. I didn’t travel north to meet the publishers, in the end. I missed the interview. If I merely regret the moment I decided to part with my giant ring binder of clippings, then thinking back on this episode makes me feel nauseous. I don’t suppose I really wanted to live in Dundee. Or Aberdeen. But I wonder what might have come of Carrie Not The Kind Of Girl You’d Marry had I taken the teen mag road less travelled. Maybe it’s not too late! “Dear Aunty Carrie. My boyfriend wants me to touch his penis. What should I do?” I could totally be Aunty Carrie.