Thursday, March 13, 2014

Homage a la Spectator

When I first started subscribing to the Spectator I'd read it religiously, cover to cover, concluding with me flicking through the magazine to see if there was any cartoons I'd missed. It was quite an exhausting exercise, and rather unprofitable too, as at the time I probably should have been looking for jobs (or, at any rate, filling out a form saying I'd been looking for jobs). It got to be ridiculous; I didn't even have much time to read books. I'd barely have finished one issue of the Spectator before I received the next issue, and then the trouble would start all over again. Pretty soon the back issues were mounting up. I have a habit of leaving magazines folded open on the page I'd been reading on tables and benches and floors and toilet seats, a sort of casual domestic filing system, you might call it, so that didn't make it any easier to sort stuff out either. For a magazine largely devoted to current affairs, it was bloody hard to keep up with.

Anyway, it turns out I probably shouldn't have worried about keeping up with it. Because the Spectator doesn't really seem to be worried about keeping up with itself, either. The magazine comes out on Friday for the weekend but never arrives until after the weekend. Sometimes it misses Monday, too, and arrives on Tuesday. Sometimes it lazily appears in the letterbox on a Wednesday, presumably after having had a dawdle around the neighbourhood to see the sites.  And sometimes it leaves things up to Thursday, whereupon, having almost arrived it scratches its head and wonders if it mightn't like to leave things up until Friday, after all. This leaves open the terrifying but somehow wonderful possibility that sometimes, the previous issue might not arrive at a person's house until a few days after the latest issue arrives. Indeed, perhaps one day I will go out to the letterbox and find the long-delayed 1771 issue has arrived:
I have observed, that a Reader seldom peruses a Book with Pleasure 'till he knows whether the Writer of it be a black or a fair Man, of a mild or cholerick Disposition, Married or a Batchelor, with other Particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right Understanding of an Author. To gratify this Curiosity, which is so natural to a Reader, I design this Paper, and my next, as Prefatory Discourses to my following Writings, and shall give some Account in them of the several persons that are engaged in this Work. As the chief trouble of Compiling, Digesting, and Correcting will fall to my Share, I must do myself the Justice to open the Work with my own History.

It's Thursday at the moment, as it turns out. Having just collected the mail, I see that though there is a letter from my father, a copy of Earth Garden magazine (which I swear we have already received anyway*), and some other unimportant item of paraphernalia**, my Spectator still has not arrived. I regard this prospect with sublime bliss and contentment. If journalism largely relies upon a progressive diet of outrages and scandals and scandalous outrageous topping the previous weeks outrageous scandals, the Spectator, being a conservative magazine, never changes. It is greatly reassuring to unfold the latest issue, or the previous issue, (whenever either of them arrive) and to find that the world is getting worse, and there is nothing we can do about it. And the cartoons are pretty good, too. 

*Psst. Article by me and the Baron in it! Buy this fine publication! 
**Dunno, probably an overdue bill or some such. 

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