The other night we skipped the bedtime story because Toby wanted to read one of his football magazines. I gladly obliged, and not just because I was desperate to hit the sofa.
Reading is reading, whether it’s a magazine, comic or the latest best-selling children’s novel. Toby rarely wants to read on his own, although he’s a perfectly competent reader, so I’m always keen to nurture his desire for independent reading.
Also, magazines were a really important part of my childhood and teenage years. During my pre-internet childhood, a comic was a genuine weekly pocket-money treat. You’d show loyalty to a specific title and look forward to reading it each week. You’d feel a part of a readership community; the language would speak to just you.
For today’s children, magazines seem to be less about the reading and more about the free gift attached. Many a time I caved in to a pleading toddler in a supermarket who was hell bent on getting some overpriced, Cbeebies affiliated magazine complete with nasty bit of plastic attached. Oh, how I used to despair.
Now Toby’s a little older, I’m glad to see that Match of the Day is still on the go, and Toxic seems to be a popular magazine brand with some decent content.
However, there really is nothing to rival some of the titles that saw me through many stages of my young life. As much as I loved books, it was the magazines that perhaps truly helped reinforce my identity.
I don’t remember much about Twinkle other than it being a comic targeted specifically to girls and it making an appearance quite regularly in my home. I definitely had a Twinkle annual at some point (annuals – another dying tradition?). A quick Google search to jog my memory reminds me that there may have been a cut-out doll that you could dress up in different cut-out outfits each week. Probably not one for the feminists.
Girls who outgrew Twinkle swiftly progressed to Jackie, a magazine for teen girls that in reality was read by 10 and 11 year olds. I had a particular soft spot for the legendary photo stories.
Loyal to Look-in
I think I was most loyal to Look-in most weekends. This was less a girls’ magazine and more focussed on entertainment. I used to cut out the posters and stick them on the wall, making a right old mess of my lovely 1980s wallpaper with blu-tac. I loved Look-in. I Pretty much read it from cover to cover. I’ve no idea what happened to it.
I defy any child of the 1980s to deny they read Smash Hits. It was the perfect pop magazine. I used to collect the stickers too, and very very nearly completed one. I blame my vast knowledge of pop music trivia on reading Smash Hits. It lasted in magazine until 2006.
Select tastes emerging
During my teenage years I denounced all things pop, and discovered Indie, and Select magazine became my bible. I used to pore over tales of Glastonbury attendance and dream I could join in (and I did). Reading Select made me feel like I was a member of some sort of exclusive club. I wasn’t too old for posters and Select gave away some fine album cover posters. I had Stereo MCs and Suede on my bedroom wall. I was a bonafide magazine junky by this point and used to keep all my copies.
More magazine was the staple read among the teenage girls at school. By this point we’d all well and truly outgrown Jackie. We’d moved on from talking about snogs and fall-outs with best friends and were developing a sexual curiosity that More seemed to address. Although I’m not sure its notorious ‘Position of the Fortnight’ features were the best sex education.
And finally . . .The Face
But the magazine that really did shape who I wanted to be and my cultural tastes was the iconic The Face. Despite a few pretenders, there hasn’t been or ever will be anything like it. It covered the cutting edge of culture with such style and panache – a perfect combination of progressive design and razor-sharp writing. I used to love the writing of, in particular, Miranda Sawyer and Sheryl Garret, and did secretly harbour ambitions to have a career like theirs. As with Select magazine, I used to collect my monthly copies, and I really wish I’d hung on them as they would have offered a fantastic archive of the 1990s. I was pretty sad to hear it had folded.