I'm a girl. Bring me impractically foot-crippling, fugly, orthopaedic-looking high-heeled shoes in a range of migraine-inducing colours. Bring me nauseating "statement" bags with tassels on them. I can't live without the latest 'sleb news n' pics. Abbey Clancy in her bikini, showing off a rack of ribs that would do credit to a xylophone. Is JenAn wearing sunglasses to hide her tears at yet another doomed relationship? (They'll print her picture next to one of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie looking uxoriously smug, just to ram the point home.) And articles about the latest obscure Amazonian "superfood" said to be relied on by Victoria Beckham, a woman who has made a career out of being a smartly-dressed, blank-faced twig.
Really. Give it all to me. I can't get enough of anodyne daytime TV presenters, empty-headed reality TV "stars" and the girlfriends of oafish, lumpen footballers - all hovering on the edges of fame, waiting for the divorce sacndal or the sex tape that will catapult them into genuine D-list status. I can't get enough of the guilting to starve to fit into the clothes these substandard loo-roll mags tell me I should want to wear, the horrible, creeping feeling that somehow people who happen to have two X chromosomes will have the same three interests in common.
This is why, for years, I avoided magazines more or less completely, bar the occasional peek at Wired or Pick Me Up, providing that the latter had a banner headline about somebody "accidentally" impaling a rusty nail through their penis or finding love in the frozen-vegetable section of Jack Fulton's. And then, I discovered Scarlet magazine.
Scarlet magazine featured nothing on diets or fashions and the people they interviewed were successful businesswomen talking about their fascinating careers, rather than Christine Bleakley flashing an engagement ring and simpering. Sex formed a large part of the topics under discussion - as something you were free to enjoy however you pleased, rather than to be alluded to with the kind of arch tee-hee that is old by the time you leave puberty. I loved Scarlet. And it went under.
That's right. Somebody produced an intelligent, relevant, interesting magazine for women, and it went under. Due to the failure of the distributors, but still, doesn't that sound bad?
Nothing will replace Scarlet in my affections. Nothing. Certainly not Cosmopolitan, that depressing archive where "aspirational" means "guilting you about the fact that you don't have a high-powered career, a cordon bleu in cookery, a small number of well-groomed designer-clad children and an Oxford blue for sexual intercourse." I gave up trying to be perfect long ago, it was far too knackering. And not Good Housekeeping. I haven't got time to launder my dishcloths freshly with angels' tears or tenderise duck breast through the medium of interpretative dance. So what am I to do?
Back to Wired, I suppose. But wouldn't it be nice to find a fulfilling read on the women's shelf?