Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Lady

That vieille grand dame, The Lady, 'England's first and finest weekly', seems to have undergone a sex change. Last week’s editorial boasted a list of writers, both resident and guest, entirely male! Even an article on Lady Thatcher was the perspective of her son – and I wonder if that lady herself was pleased to see reference to supposed rivalry between that young man and his sister? In the Borealis family it is not unknown to hear voices raised and tears shed, but I should be mortified to find that relayed to the voracious public via a women’s weekly.

Other than that, the new editor Rachel Johnson has an engaging personality; combining a certain apparent ingenuousness, with a breezy insouciance: one has come to recognize this blend as a family style. I was intrigued and delighted by her appointment to the post, but do not especially welcome the heightened political ambiance – though journalists of newspaper and television alike are everywhere chanting for change - never mind if the prime minister (poor man) is halfway through steering us out of recession as best he might, the journalists are bored now, and want somebody new. Every newspaper on the stand seems to have metamorphosed into a party political brochure for the opposition. The Lady has no doubt always leaned in that direction (I think Aurora has never even tried to filch my copy), but its flavour now is distinctly right-wing.

With a certain sadness I noted a week or two ago the editor’s resolve no longer to answer queries of a general household nature – how to get sweat stains out of men’s trousers and information as to reliable sources of directoire knickers (the editor said ‘drawers’, but knickers would be correct in this case). Surely it would be easy for one of the staff on The Lady to provide such simple information? I imagine the office can run to a computer? Some of the readership of The Lady would not know one end of Google from the other (do any of us? Google seems to have become nearly as far-reaching as the hand of God), and a quick search under ‘sweat stains +mens trouser’ or ‘directoire’ would produce a result with almost no labour at all.

For what it’s worth, Henry’s trousers are never sweat-stained: he wears long silk underwear which takes care of the problem in all weathers – beyond that, dry-cleaning would seem to present itself as an option. And directoire knickers? My dear – ebay! Where else? But these are infinitely more comfortable. If The Lady is too busy (and the editor says they no longer have time) you can always ask me. Time, that age-old alternative to money, is something I collect from the water under every bridge and from the hedgerows of Memory Lane, for time is precious; the resource of the wise and the best gift of all. To tell your readers you have no time for their queries strikes a jarring note. It was a slight, albeit unintentional: those for whom one has no time quite quickly find themselves otherwise engaged in their turn. Rachel has all the tact of her amusing brother.

I threw last week’s copy of The Lady in the waste-paper basket quite quickly: but I will give it another try today.

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