I had been looking forward to it so had scribbled 'Thursday 9pm Lady' on the kitchen whiteboard to remind me, (not sure what it reminded the men of the house to do) written in amongst things like 'toothpaste' and 'next one out get milk' or 'gone to Plymouth, back later'. The whiteboard being the main source of all incoming and outgoing information about what this house needs and does, where its residents may be or should be at any one time and if absent for any length of time, where they have gone to live.
I'm sure posh houses don't have these.
England's longest surviving weekly magazine for women and cited as Her Majesty's favourite read, it would seem the Queen and I have unwittingly been helping The Lady limp along by buying it in recent months. I'm a recent convert since discovering back in January that Susan Hill was the new Literary Editor and all without realising how crucial every single purchase seems to be at the moment.
And then recently I was approached about doing an interview for The Lady and who knows, even though I've explained no silver spoons and no blue blood, it's supposed to be happening soon and I suppose some of you might seek it out that week, or at least find it on the shelves in Smiths and have a look...every bit helps apparently.
In fact I'd really not meant to start reading it until I was about seventy.
It seems like a declaration of something definite when you start taking The Lady, a sort of graceful shift into old age and you can't help but notice all those adverts for devices that ease your passage...if you see what I mean, screening tests for peripheral arterial disease and stair lifts and mobile phones with great big numbers. Of course I might have come to the magazine sooner had I been born with the silver spoon in the right place and in need of nannies, housekeepers and gardeners, but as it is I sensibly married Bookhound and he saves us a shed load of expense in that direction.
Rachel Johnson has taken over as the editor and probably hates being constantly identified as sister of Boris (Mayor of London), but she is so I will, and tasked with a remit of increasing circulation to 35,000 from an ailing 20,000 or so she walked in the building with a great big bag on her arm which obviously contained a very great big new broom.
‘We want to attract women aged 45 and up who want more out of their magazines than celebrity pieces and high fashion. What we want to create is an intelligent and articulate women’s magazine with attitude. That’s what it’s about. Not age or Prada bags and Gucci shoes.’
Her motto is more hip, less hip-replacement'So Rachel walked right on in and got stuck into the old guard...who weren't happy bunnies at all.
The old literary editor had gone in a cloud of sour grapes before the first adverts, the previous editor hung on until after the third ad break which seemed pretty tenacious of her.
With a stupendous building in London at their disposal, staff who seemed to have inherited jobs like peerages and with an archive to die for, The Lady was clearly in need of turning.
Then there were the covers, ah yes, the covers that seemed redolent of the 1970s 60s...50s hadn't changed since prehistory, and proprietors who were also clinging to the wreckage of the past whilst fearing the plunge into the future, it was clear Rachel Johnson was eventually going to have to be ruthless and she was.
Now I'm not a great magazine purchaser, heavens above I feel like I write one single-handed here without having time to read other people's, but as well as some interesting feature articles (including several from Margaret Powling who often stops by here), The Lady has one other very big plus going for it with me and it's The Ladygram.
I'll bet it's been going for donkey's years but I've developed a bit of a sad addiction which seems harmless at £1.80 a throw when it could be much worse, because there's this rather smug looking mugshot of the man who compiles it (I'm sure it's the angle and he's probably very amenable) but it's the slight turn of the mouth and the distant look in Keith Parker's eye which seems to be saying to me
'Go on then...you'll never manage it'
and the really annoying thing is I don't.
It's crossword-like clues and the answers go into a numbered grid (Box A). Then you have to transfer the numbered letters of your answer into another correspondingly numbered grid (Box B)
The initial letters of the answers in Box A will spell the name of an author and the title of a book they have written...are you keeping up?
Meanwhile all is not quiet in Box B because that's supposed to be shaping up into an identifiable quotation from the book.
I've never completed one yet and it drives me insane, so much so that at any given moment I announce I'm going to Ladygram and I have to dash off and have a little go and I still get nowhere, but I have huge confidence in you all, someone out there will crack it.
Bearing in mind that one wrong answer may well have skewed this whole thing here's my laboured attempt at author and title from a few weeks ago (and I missed the answers the next week) and bear in mind this took me several 'bath runnings' to do and it nearly overflowed three times because I had no maid drawing my bath for me.
Name that author, name that book...
B - - - R A - L - - PO - C - E - LAC - - P
Here's an example of a clue too
'Spanner under hammer - just a game!' (13 letters) ...it shouts anagram at me but to no avail, I can't see it and I refuse to cheat and google these things.
or what about
'Openers sound quality is the crux' (8 letters) that's been bugging me for weeks
You can only wish Rachel Johnson the best of good old British luck with all this, she's sensibly writing a diary and has a publishing deal for that lined up and should I make it 'tween those pages you'll be the first to know.