What is it with the back end of the Guardian Magazine? Who actually subscribes to its weird mix of intellectualism-lite, bourgeois twattery and artsy waffle? Take this article by pop philosopher Alain De Botton, giving his two cents on a photo by Hannah Starkey, depicting a woman staring out of a café window:
'A few years ago , I fell in love with a girl in a photo, even though I couldn't see her face, only her hair, which was a promise of happiness...'
To which we say: no you didn't, you twat. To suggest that you fell in love with the anonymous girl in the photo actually cheapens the concept of love, which isn't about teenage mooning over Betty Blue but actually about a deep connection with another (real) person. What sort of relationship can you have with a photo? You could probably make some sort of orifice in the image, but considering she's got her back to the camera, you'd be fucking the back of her skull, which is about as romantic as life in 25 Cromwell Street.
Botton bibble babbles on in the same vein for a while about the romance of 'those who are misunderstood by others - and happen also to be very beautiful', concluding:
'The picture has just the right amount of indeterminacy to contain all my hopes.'
Hello Pseuds' Corner! What undermines this pretentious dogshit is the fact that the 'girl' (more correctly a woman) is assumed to be beautiful. What if she's just a bit average looking? Does that invalidate her as a romantic figure? Sorry, love, you're not fit enough for my existentialism-lite. Got any mates that look like Catherine Deneuve?
Still, at least with gritted teeth and buttocks you can make it to the end of De Botton's article, which is more than can be said for a column by Benjamin Mee about DIY, which begins: 'One of the things I like most about the ancienne bergerie (old sheep bar) in which we intend to live is -'
NO NO NO! We do not wish to hear about your home in the south of France! We do not wish to hear about your interior design plans, or for that matter your wife or children - who are probably called Jocasta, Ollie and Jemimah respectively.
Another hard-hitting think piece by Caroline Roux desperately tries to turn the idea of working from home into some sort of profound social trend...
'To my mind, the words "home" and "office" really don't go together. In fact nobody thought they did until the mid 1990s when the home office was suddenly everywhere....'
Well, yes and no. Maybe home offices were everywhere amongst your freelance journo buddies, but so what if they were? What does it MEAN? Did no-one work from home before the mid 1990s? We give up... (On the same page, it's worth noting, is a product piece about a deckchair whose canvas takes the form of a Penguin classic book cover. Price? £59.95. For a DECKCHAIR? The mind boggles.)
Move on a few pages and we encounter what a brief TFT straw poll has revealed to be one of the most hated columns in British journalism: We Love Each Other, in which two artsy types express their love for each other. Says Deidre Dolan of her love for her partner:
'It's a fugue state. There nothing I can do but dance. There's no other way to express myself when I feel that good....'
Hmm. We'd suggest you don't express your grief by dancing at funerals, Deidre. On the same page is a column by Jon Ronson, who reveals the shocking fact that 'For a while, our cat Monty has been behaving in a paranoid fashion....' That's as may be, Jon, but we've already turned the page. Unfortunately we've turned to Charlie Porter, who is addressing the hot topic of some men not being interested in talking about clothes: 'I couldn't imagine having no-one to talk to about clothes. It's a natural part of our flap [?], a subject that informs and illuminates everything else we go on about....'
The baffling thing about back end of the Guardian Magazine is: who the hell actually takes it seriously? The lifestyle it depicts applies only to a tiny minority of well-to-do, rather well-off, arty, slightly pretentious middle class types, ie. Alain De Botton, Charlie Porter and their mates. The worrying thing is that the majority of readers don't lead this lifestyle, but presumably aspire to it.
Perhaps the Guardian Magazine has 'just the right amount of shite to contain all their hopes'.