April 15: on flipping through the newspaper

I buy the newspaper once a week. on Saturdays. I am a Saturday newspaper buyer; not a Sunday one. This makes me a modern newspaper buyer (not a very modern person, as modern people don’t buy newspapers). The Sunday paper was the traditional purchase but in recent years the Saturday paper has tried to encroach on Sunday’s terrain. The Saturday buyer wants previews; the Sunday buyer wants reviews, Saturday afternoon and evening being the slot pre- and re-viewed. The Saturday buyer wants to look forward; the Sunday buyer to look back. Saturday prefers to imagine; Sunday to take stock.
When I am flpping through my copious Saturday paper I sometimes step back to see myself as others might see and judge me. Which articles do I choose to ignore; which to pursue? And why? There is a general rule. I pursue those pieces I know something about and I ignore those pieces that I have in the past decided do not interest me. So, in today’s magazine, I ignore the columnists (except for Clive James, whose piece is short). I ignore human interest stories. They are too long and too constructed. Anything with the name Mark Zuckerberg in it typed in bold and large font to attract the reader into the article. It has the opposite effect on me. In fact, all the snippets pulled out of the main body of the text and enlarged as highlights to pull me in, tend to push me out. That is because I am contrary. Here’s a feature about delivery vans. That’s vehicles. That doesn’t do it for me either. Blind Date. That’s a rubric where two strangers meet for a blind date and judge each other. I would read this but have learnt from past reading that the judgements are too anodyne. Recipes page. Ignore. I have never cooked from a recipe. I am a man who won’t eat vegetables starting with the letter A (Artichokes, Aubergines. Asparagus and company), so I won’t entertain the range of ingredients required on a fancy recipes page. 80g pitted green olives cut in half lengthways; 100 g dried apricots cut in half; 3 tbsp rose harissa. 450 g muscovado sugar. No. It’s not going to happen. Gardening. No. Weirdly, I do the quiz. Don’t read travel section; don’t read family section. Read sport. Read books. All logical, given my preoccupations. In The Guide read TV review. Piece about history of LGBT characters on TV ignore. Oh yes, you get a very good sense of who I must be by my newspaper reading profile. A slightly irrascible, reactionary, car-less, food-pragmatic, uninterested in human interest, low-tec, careful dweller of a zone that has been shrinking for years.


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