Sunday, October 01, 2006

What Spinsterella doesn't understand about the Guardian Weekend

Oh look, the Saturday Guardian's Weekend magazine has had a re-jig. Now I know I shouldn't complain yet, these things take time to bed in (although a whole page for Jon Ronson?)

But can I draw your attention to page 73; the 'relationships' section. As well as the agony-aunt bit, we have a new column. It's called 'What Women Don't Understand About Men', and I'm struggling to make any sense of it...

What women don't understand about men
Saturday September 30, 2006

There ought to be a term like "dyslexia" that refers to men rather than to written words. Had I attended the kind of school where pupils learn dead languages instead of the kind where pupils tend to be "well known to the police", I could probably work out the neologism myself. Perhaps, "Dysandria: a neurological condition in which an otherwise intelligent woman is so unable to interpret men or their actions that she appears to be more than a bit slow." If that word did exist, then right beside it in My First Dictionary Of Brain Disorders would be a picture of Lisa.

Lisa (not her real name) is bright, well-educated, perceptive and thoughtful. She holds down a demanding job, too. (Our need for camouflage means I won't reveal what this job is - I'll pick something vaguely similar instead; another profession peopled by the panic-stricken, broken and desperate.)

She is a PR. Her competence is manifest and comprehensive ... until it comes to relationships, when her natural state instead appears to be "Stuck in the middle of a level crossing with the lights flashing."

I resolved to write her story after sitting in her flat as she slurped wine and related yet another disaster. Hunched there, shaking my head, I muttered, "God, Lisa, you know what you are? You're a case study. I've never met anyone whose mistakes are so damned definitive."

But this tale should begin before that evening. It should begin even before I arrived (a little after The Rebound). It should begin with my telling you about The Ex.


The title suggests that the column is written by a man, but this isn't clarified anywhere in the text. Any why 'Anonymous'? What's wrong with a good old pseudonymn? And yes, I think we probably figured out that 'Lisa' is an assumed name.

As for: She is a PR. What? Unless I have been labouring under a huge misconception for all these years, PR stands for Public Relations. 'She is a Public Relations' doesn't make any sense. Perhaps (s)he meant: She is a PA (which I believe stands for Personal Assistant, but perhaps I'm wrong on that too). Or: She works in PR. Anyhow, people I know who work in PR are certainly not panic-stricken, broken and desperate; rather they seem to spend a fair amount of time going to parties and getting great seats for the football.

Why the jarring lurch into the past tense in the fourth paragraph?

I also don't like the opening - 'If only I'd gone to a posh school I'd have made up a new word for you here. But look, I've done it anyhow, aren't I damned clever?'

The final paragraph is completely bewildering. But this tale should begin before that evening. Whose tale is it, Lisa's or the writer's? It should begin with my telling you about The Ex. Again, are we still on Lisa here?

I'm assuming that what we have here is an all new singleton confessional-column. But is it going to be the story of 'Lisa' told through the eyes of the unnamed narrator? If so - why?

And why such a clunky opener?

Really, it they wanted to know how to start off a single-girl column, they should have taken some advice from a professional.


  • woo-hoo! first!

    god, what an awful column. when I read drivel like that it makes me wonder how idiots like that can get published and make a living, while i'm sitting here in grad school begging for table scraps.

    By Blogger Chaucer's Bitch, at 12:38 PM  

  • I've got to that age when reading the papers involves a lot of muttering to myself about what a load of crap I'm reading. The columnists are (nearly) all morons and if you read a story about anything you know something about it's invariably drivel.
    As for that column..........
    hmph, pah etc I'd rather read you any day spins.

    By Blogger realdoc, at 1:23 PM  

  • Agree all round. Poorly written trash, difficult to follow. And even if it were easy to follow it probably wouldn't amount to much.

    I'm always shocked that newspapers bother to carry this type of crap. I'm also surprised that people are allowed to earn a living writing it.

    Realdoc - i don't just mutter about it, i invariably launch the thing across the room.

    By Blogger the whales, at 1:28 PM  

  • I got through the Weekend magazine in record time yesterday. In fact I got through the whole of The Guardian in record time. Which is good because I really haven't got enough time to read it.

    Maybe PR means Prog Rocker? It made as much sense as Yes lyrics, anyway.

    Is there a campaign for plain English? Russell Brand needs some help to cough up that dictionary he's swallowed, too.

    By Blogger Geoff, at 2:53 PM  

  • Speaking as a part-time PR, yes we do say that, even though, as you point out, it is ungrammatical and plain wrong.

    By Blogger GreatSheElephant, at 4:14 PM  

  • Perhaps they are withholding the identity of the writer of this load of twaddle in the hope of creating some intrigue - is it a famous writer, and if not, who is it exactly?

    For me, the Guardian Weekend went downhill when they got rid of the weekly "match the pets to their owners" quiz.

    Besides, they seem to have got rid of Zoe Williams, who I rather liked, from the front of the magazine, and replaced her with Jon Ronson who will no doubt witter on about something quirky his son has done, or an argument he's had with his wife, as usual, but at greater length. Huh.

    By Blogger Betty, at 7:25 PM  

  • I liked Zoe W too. And I was surprisingly fond of that Hannah Pool column, despite the fact that I have no interest in beauty products, and am extremely white.

    Do you reckon they all got sacked en masse? I bet they all HATE Jon Ronson.

    (And that bloke with the £350 haicut? WTF? Normal before, normal (slightly shorter) afterwards. What a load of cuntery.)

    By Blogger Spinsterella, at 9:25 PM  

  • "cuntery." EXCELLENT word. may i use it (with appropriate citation of course)?

    By Blogger Chaucer's Bitch, at 9:27 PM  

  • Having spent most of my career in the glorious world of public relations*, I can also confirm that 'a PR' is a widely used term. I too read that 'column', came to the same conclusions as you, Spin, tutted, sighed, muttered, turned over to read something else and instantly forgot about it. I'd far rather read your blog any day. And we can all take heart that poorly written rubbish like that will only hasten the demise of the 'lifestyle columnist'. Forward the revolution, etc.

    *I don't do it any more. Well, only occasionally. Like smoking.

    By Blogger patroclus, at 9:32 PM  

  • Reading that 'column' I almost pine for the insanity of Liz Jones.


    By Blogger Billy, at 9:43 PM  

  • A great post but the touting for work at the end probably overdid it a touch. Heh.

    By Blogger Wyndham, at 10:08 AM  

  • "It should begin with my telling you about The Ex."

    Didn't you used to go out with someone called The Ex., Spin?

    I've given up on the Weekend G-er. Mind you, I bought the IOS yesterday because my cartoonist mate had illustrated an article in the review section and the layout of the paper and the typoes are worse than the bloody Grauniad - articles finishing in mid sentence and all that type of thing. *And* they have a "top five" section and number two in the book top 5 was.....wait for it....Independent editor Janit Straight Pouter. Just as smug, just as cliquey as the G-er.

    Me mate's bit was good though....

    Maybe they've been reading you Spinners??

    By Blogger Robert A. Swipe, at 12:58 PM  

  • bleaughhhhhh.
    someone is terribly impressed with themselves.

    By Blogger First Nations, at 5:01 PM  

  • I quite like lifestyle columnists - it's a bit of a guilty pleasure. Even the smug London middle-class rich ones (er, that'll be all of them).

    But this one's just shite.

    Then I read the Times Magazine this weekend too. Fucking hell, it's humourless. Grauniad isn't so bad after all, eh?

    By Blogger Spinsterella, at 5:48 PM  

  • I think PR stands for Personal Robot. Not much improvement on the trusty old inflatables obviously. dh

    By Blogger dh, at 6:29 PM  

  • I hated the column too. Particularly loathed the last line, as if it was this great tease-ending. Oh, tell us about The Ex, we're meant to all chorus, go on!
    Sod off!

    By Blogger Alias Lucy Diamond, at 8:33 PM  

  • I'm weighing slightly late on this one, as it's a whole year later and everything, but get this:

    >>Had I attended the kind of school where pupils learn dead languages instead of the kind where pupils tend to be "well known to the police", I could probably work out the neologism myself."

    But then she does go on to work out the neologism herself!

    >>Perhaps, "Dysandria: a neurological condition in which an otherwise intelligent woman is so unable to interpret men or their actions that she appears to be more than a bit slow."<<

    I suppose it's a bit late to be getting het up about this now.

    By Blogger patroclus, at 3:48 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home