A vivid visit.

We’re by the sea. The sun is muted, thwarted by the murky clouds. It’s cold, but she insists on having the large glass doors wide open. The house is shabby, in that old money sort of way. Wellington boots should be by the door, but this dusty creation would never wear them. She is stuck in the glamour and extraordinary unreality of the 30s. Pre World War Two, extravagance, excess and thin English lips. A cigarette permanently propped at the end of a black stick. She looks at me, through my dreams and sprinkles ash on them. Her kaftan type, green creation softly billows in the sea’s breeze, and as I look at her, I am filled with awe, respect and despair. I quietly wonder where she gets her tobacco from, when she never leaves the house. But of course, she isn’t real.

“Oh darling! Why would you undertake such a task? Why not get yourself a real job sweetie? Wouldn’t that be better that all this, this LACK of everything and hard work? I know that Sherry and Simon think that you are some sort of, what do you call them? Blogger! Yes that’s it. That you just blog all day, with no repercussions. Oh darling, I know that you do more than this, but I mean, you could have a house by now if you’d chosen differently. Do you think anything could possibly come of this? Is it too late to be something a little more – substantial?”

This is quite an outburst for her. Normally she just observes, with only the occasional raised eyebrow, or extra thinning of the lips. Once or twice she has shown the glimpse of a smile. But mostly, she watches. Imprisoned and inherently glamourous, I think she wants to be free, but until then, she ages slowly. Waiting for me to do something better. Hearing her say the word ‘blog’ had made me recoil. Without intention, I am old in my opinions too, and a blog doesn’t seem to do justice to what I hope to do. On the back of my flinch, came a fresh indignant attitude however. I want to write a book, but first I want to start a magazine.

Of course, she would be confused as to this flippery and frittery. What am I contributing to society? But she would approve of its printed format. Of the leaps and bounds female reading has made since the serialisation of Jane Austen novels. In terms of contributions to readers, I would jump to the same empty conclusions as she. Most magazines these days, have utterly failed to really get me by anything other than my own insecurities, ineptitude to tick off a female created to do list and played to my desire to own more and look much better. Commentary and opinion is good, but what about investigations, really thought provoking pieces? – Not real life ‘stories’ or token pieces on a country’s hardship – unless done thoroughly/less sensationalist – and new fashion designers, clothes you can wear, beautiful photography of where we live and holidays that don’t require your whole salary. She, you and I may shudder at this next statement but: I want to inspire, illustrate and embrace life for women and what they HAVE, as well as understanding what we don’t. The lives of you, me, them and less on THEM.

“We are beautiful” I tell her.

“I want us all to know this. To have a printed, real life magazine that will be read from cover to cover. When we trundle off to the bathroom and look in the mirror after reading it – we, they, you and I – will not criticise or vow to change, but be filled with the visions and words of this magazine, shining through their bright eyes. I don’t want a house, I want to have all of us to feel alive for now. For life.”

She lights another cigarette, inhales deeply and turns to face me. She looks me in the eye and suddenly I’m in a turquoise chariot, riding back to my desk. Another meeting fades into the distance.

**This is all true. I am very serious about starting a magazine. Hopefully with Emily Burt: aka Handmade By Emily. I would love to know what you think about this idea. Do you think it is a good one, or completely mad? Have you got anything you would like to see in a magazine? Comments below, I would love to hear yours. Thank you.**

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21 thoughts on “A vivid visit.

  1. Katya von poddle poops

    Yes, definately do this Hels. Yours is still one of the only online mind scribblings that I thouroughly enjoy reading. So please do. Think of all the things you and your friends enjoy and find a way of putting that in. Art, culture, travel, poetry, thoughts, beauty (true beauty), perhaps a section for a katy port to scribble in (wink wink wink and a liddle nudge), photos, paintings, a crafty corner, (I’m mad keen to join my W.I… maybe get involved with all of the ages for a little section. It would be so lush to hear from the other generations about how they are today), a fair trade section…. ooooh it would be such a huge effort, but it would be beautiful and proper. and sold everywhere for everyone to access…. big things. big dreams. As for a book. ABSOLUTELY!

    Reply
  2. Rachel

    I think it would be an amazing magazine! Full of beautiful words and pictures 😀 It would be one of those magazines I keep forever and ever.
    I always wanted to start my own mag but I don’t know much about editorial writing – i would probably just end up with a nice looking empty book hehe!x

    Reply
  3. Melro

    Hels – stop thinking about it and DO IT!! There is a HUGE gap in the market for a magazine aimed at young woman that focus on more than just fashion and celebrities. I definitely think a printed magazine and not simply an online one is more appealing – tactile, plus best time for reading is on the move/beach. Nice images, beautiful text, a bit of this and a bit of that. I’m sure you have 5 issues already in extracts on your ‘blog’ 😉

    Such a beautiful writer. I’d definitely buy it! – besides, Grazia just doesn’t last long enough! 😉

    xx

    Reply
  4. Postcards

    For ages I’ve been wanting to find a magazine that covers all the best bits of ones I read semi-regularly (Glamour, Stylist, various newspaper weekend magazines) but without endless fashion/beauty pages and vapid features, and with more stuff I can get my teeth into. Don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of fashion and beauty (although not when the clothes/products are ridiculously expensive), but I’d also like some more inspiring/interesting stories. Craft/cooking/DIY type would be good. Something intelligent yet cosy. Magazines aimed at older women (such as Prima) seem to get this right, as they do cover a really wide range of things, so something like that which also appeals to a younger demographic.

    Not asking for much am I?!

    I’m an occasional magazine feature writer so give me a shout if you’d like any input, as it sounds like a really interesting project.

    Reply
  5. Dunk

    Hels! I loved reading that. Beautiful.

    My 2 cents… from a blokey perspective… follow your dreams. If you genuinely truly believe you can make it happen then there should be no question in your mind. The only deliberation will be in the time taken to arrive at the point where you realise that the above is the case – I hope that makes sense. It’s a pretty deep philosophy but something I’ve come to realise over the last few months.

    The above guff aside, a magazine that promotes the idea of making a life with what you have, and not with things you don’t have sounds great! The challenge is convincing people to buy into this theory against the tidal wave of popular media who are working against you… because big media are in it for the money, and they know that escapism sells. But maybe… just maybe “in these cash-strapped times we live in” you have as good an opportunity as you ever will have to do this?

    Reply
  6. Sam

    I agree with postcards, gap in Market for younger demographic that is into craft, home, cooking, travel, gardening, has more than a few braincells, interested in art fashion Eco friendly, country living and woman at home are my secret pleasures, but would be nice not to hide them and be more specifically “targeted” include music theatre festivals etc etc but 30-40 somethings not 20s would be my personal pref! Although no doubt there are alot of 20 somethings interested in all above so I am prob guilty of being ageist there 😦

    Reply
  7. daria

    it’s a GREAT idea if you have such possibility! I’d love a magazine with stories, different genres, some art, photos, poetic comments to them, I love your style . I’m sure you and Emily will create a beautiful magazine!

    Reply
  8. bumblecrumble

    left a little short for breath reading this one.
    think you should. without doubt. that is a beautiful strong vision, your blessed with imagination and the skills to share it, you have some of the highest standards of excellence and can create a sense of joy at being a girl/woman which would be a healthy change from the frustration most publications leave in their glossy wake. If you remember not everyone is a curvy blond, men like to escape with you and some folk eat more cake then you, then you as ever have my vote.

    Your old friend C X

    Reply
  9. S Disconap

    I think what I look for in a magazine is either total trash or really good writing. I think visuals are important but really need to come second to the standard of the words, and based on your blog seems like you can handle that part. Intelligent Life has a really good grip on fun, intellectual stimulation, a bit of shopping and famous faces, maybe worth checking out. One thing I would steer clear of is anything too whimsical and Lula-like, or too “new band you haven’t heard of/fashion you can barely see”. A bit of a sense of humour goes far.

    Gawd, that was a lot of commentary. Definitely go for it because you’ll never regret following your dreams and I really say that without any sarcasm.

    Reply
  10. Martin

    Yes, yes, and yes. I believe you showed me a foreign magazine on a rare visit of ours to a cafe that you can draw inspiration from. Musts: a physical product, beautifully designed, beautifully written, beautifully illustrated. Mustn’ts: like anything else currently out there. Can I do the celeb stories please. I take a particular interest in The Only Way is Essex cast.

    Reply
  11. Rob Ratcliff

    There was a time when a lot of Shoreditch-based rags were putting out magazines that were almost unreadable as they did things like setting black type on a grey road-texture background. Funnily enough, not many of those lasted. In recent times there’s been a bit of a revolution in the magazine world as far as I can tell: quality. This is the key I think. The philosophy sounds wonderful, so it’s all about the execution.

    Think Wired (Condé Nast), Frankie Mag etc. The sort of thing that feels beautiful to hold and look at, and beautiful and wonderful to read too. The kind of magazine you keep because you couldn’t bare to throw it away. If you can achieve that, then wow.

    Reply
  12. Georgia Coote

    Oh please please do this! I love reading your blog and would absolutely love to read your magazine, I would LOVE to read a magazine that encompasses all that you’ve said.x

    Reply
  13. Lori MacAlpine-Smith

    I think its a really great idear! Since I’m moved to the UK I haven’t been able to find a magazine that doesn’t make me wanna wretch in my handbag! Not that they are all terrible,but we have magazines like Bust and Nylon in Ol’ Merica and they focus on things like music and craft second hand,vintage etc! That’s what we need in this country, a magazine that stands for a population that hasn’t been spoken for yet! p.s. I would love to do a Vintage Section! *wink,wink*

    Lori
    Brislington,Bristol

    Reply
  14. helswrites Post author

    Thanks to everyone. HUGELY appreciate this feedback. Every one of you has said something really valuable. It means a lot to hear from you. I will get back to you on progress asap. x

    Reply
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