>> The People’s Friend
Scottish Field <<
Scotia Extremis has spent a lot of time in waiting over the years – Doctors, Dentists and the like – and this week’s pairing is inspired by the choice of reading materials it has found there, both with a uniquely Scottish flavour yet portraying very different images of Scotland. The People’s Friend – ‘the famous story magazine’ is an ageless format aimed at women of a certain age – down-to-earth short stories and serials, recipes, health features and competitions, with a slight sense that while everyone has read it, no-one actually buys it (although it has a reported weekly circulation of over 250,000). Scottish Field is a more upmarket publication focusing on country matters – field and farm pursuits, landscape, tourism and Scottish cuisine. The contrast here is in the suggested target audience – urban, domestic, traditional versus rural, outdoor, aspirational. We chose today to launch this pairing as a ‘special’ to mark the Glorious Twelfth – traditionally the start of the Grouse Shooting season in Scotland.
The People’s Friend
by Pippa Little
On wings of song and sweetened with a breath of country air
the story so far wraps up a cosy scene of happy endings:
The Good Lord won’t send us more than we can bear
if we live our lives as hidden gems, make do with mending –
who can resist the soft warmth of flannelette? Comfort is all
we deserve, desire now, our piano favourites, simple knits, a day
problems below the waist, ageing, loneliness, a fall
soothed with Reflections from the Manse, a mail-order baby doll –
hold back the dwindling life, the darkening horizon
if not clip-on magnifiers, tasty meal ideas, Historical Romance?
Why not? Wasn’t Scotland always this way once, All Our
from very special moments, collective Love Darg toil? Only chance
and change conspire to make it wishful longing now from people
don’t always get the credit they deserve and keep secrets, too.
All phrases in italics are taken from The People’s Friend Jan 30 2016
by Lindy Barbour
Between the cover picture ‘Red Grouse in the Lammermuirs’
and the end-page advert for a well-known watch
you never actually own apparently,
but look after for the next generation,
two hundred pages of glossy lifestyle stuff.
“I am writing about a form of life
that does take place” says one contributor
perhaps defensively, “I don’t write about problems.
Not everyone’s dysfunctional”.
It’s clear the target audience is exclusive
but then again, it’s hard to tell if this
magazine that graces the coffee tables
of a thousand dentists’ waiting rooms
is for the aspirational or the arrived.
One thing’s for sure, this life is led by men,
only six women feature outside fashion
adverts and photographs of charity lunches.
Here men write for men. A dull parade
of plump-cheeked blokes in ginger tweeds
and v-necked golfing sweaters talk
up their adventures; a group survival test on Taransay
when three days hunger ends predictably
in shooting, gralloching and a barbecue;
the Caledonian Challenge; a life in motor sports;
the Cameron family from the Blairmore archive;
a farmer who’s web events guru for D&G
(Dumfries and Galloway, not Dolce & Gabbana.)
A token Glaswegian, survivor of an Arctic expedition
is praised, but yields a morsel of sensationalism
with a murder in his family. Then, ‘Summer Activities
and Events’ takes us from gardens, whisky, horses, golf
to golf, horses, gardens, whisky, “sampling the amber nectar,”
fine dining with Gordon and Fiona, Hamish and Fiona,
Alastair and Fiona, Farquhar and Fiona.
But get down to the point, the important stuff.
A couple of mill, old boy, will buy a serious estate−
salmon and sea trout fishing, rough shooting of grouse
and ptarmigan, and red deer stalking, an average
of twenty stags and twenty hinds, in short
there’s lots to kill on more than six thousand
acres of Sutherland−the epitome of emptiness.
They made a desert and they called it sport.
It is a form of life. It does take place.
But, thankfully, not everyone’s dysfunctional.
Pippa Little’s first job at 16 was as a trainee editorial assistant on The People’s Friend, where she learned skills which have served her well through subsequent work as an editor, teacher, reviewer, translator, literacy development worker, OU tutor and poet. Collections include Overwintering (Oxford Poets/Carcanet, 2012) and a forthcoming collection, Twist (via Arc). Our Lady of Iguanas (Black Light Engine Room Press) is a recent sequence of poems about Mexico City.
Lindy Barbour lives in Lanarkshire and teaches at the University of Edinburgh. She researches on psychoanalytic theory and has published on Hans Andersen, and the Belgian poet Georges Rodenbach. She is currently working on the theme of emotion and space in the work of Walter Benjamin. Her pamphlet, Where You Start From was published by Mariscat in 2015.