The Grey Cardigan 17.03.06

LAST WEEK I poked some harmless fun at The Mail on Sunday and its "super, new" You magazine being promoted on the quality of its "silky" paper stock. But I’d failed to spot the more sinister side of the relaunch — the return of Liz-fucking-Jones.

I tell you what, I’ve been in some tight spots in my career. I’ve done post-Hillsborough death-knocks in Liverpool, I’ve tried to stop a tabloid-crazed mob burning down a paediatrician’s home in Newport and I’ve yomped a respectable 100 yards behind General Max Hastings in the Falklands (the rest of us taking the view that he was a perfectly efficient mine-sweeper and should be encouraged to get on with it). But that Liz Jones woman scares me to death.

I accept that the best advice to columnists is "write what you know", and I recognise the quality of self-revelation that allows the best of the breed to strike a chord with their readers. But since when has any bunnyboiling harridan been so willing to destroy their own marriage just for the amusement of onlookers? It’s like being a spectator at Bedlam.

The poor bloke who found himself entangled in this Black Widow spider’s web has already done his best to escape weekly emasculation by buggering off to India on a semi-permanent basis. Ms Jones’s column then ceased.

Clearly lured into a sense of false security he returned, just as the Missus landed The Mail on Sunday gig and decided to wash his Y-fronts in public all over again.

It’s a sad case. If he doesn’t suffer from penile dysfunction already, I fear that the affliction is only days away.

THE OTHER frightening aspect of the You magazine strategy is the price. Did I really read that the project to offer this women’s weekly as a standalone product is going to cost £8 million?

You may well wonder why people would happily pay £1 for a product that was available as part of a passable newspaper package for just £1.30 a couple of days earlier. You may well wonder how it could possibly compete with the monthly glossies and the weekly "silkies".

You may well wonder how this strange policy will pan out with an audience already accustomed to free DVDs, phones, sunglasses and commemorative Queen Mother plates.

Being a regional newspaper man, I only wonder who backed this massively expensive plan at a time when £8 million is comfortably enough to fund the entire editorial budgets of at least three Northcliffe evenings. And meanwhile some poor redundant sub in Scunthorpe or Stoke or Swansea wonders how he’s going to pay his mortgage next month.

OR PERHAPS I’m just a silly old Hector who doesn’t understand the intricacies of platform extension, because dear Rupert is at it as well — and only a fool would doubt his instincts. News International will shortly launch something called insideout (yes, the red-socked twats have dispensed with upper case once again), a property and interiors magazine branded as part of the The Sunday Times stable. And they already have cheap and cheerful "real life" mag love it!

(yes, I know) on the market.

It’s just a thought, but might they want to reconsider how such a title can be reconciled with cover lines like "I garrotted my cheating husband with piano wire" and "My surrogate baby was born with three heads… and smokes", both of which I’ve made up, but you get the picture.

You can contact me, should you be minded, at thegreycardigan@gmail.com

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