Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Pile of Magazines

I don’t know who introduced poorly bags into our household.  I suspect it was my husband.  He is acknowledged to be more caring and generous than I am.

A poorly bag to the uninitiated is a bag of goodies given to a poorly person.  The contents might change but the staple poorly bag contains a magazine or two, a packet of crisps, a chocolate bar of some variety and a bottle of juice.  There may a box of Lemsip, a lottery ticket or a sugar doughnut to pad it out – but we have been dealing in poorly bags for quite a while now.

Sunday saw a slow descent into me not feeling so well.  Monday morning had seen not-so-wellness become a definite feeling-ill thing.  A cough had lodged itself in some unreachable bit of the throat that no amount of coughing was able to shift.  The nose wasn’t working properly, nostrils switching between blocked and unblocked.  And I was weeping miserably.  My stiff upper lip quivered and I just couldn’t figure out how to pull my socks up and push through.

The poorly bag was purchased at just after ten at night from the Co-Op in town. The receipt told me that there was more purchased than ended up in the poorly bag.  I am not a fan of wasabi beans in a spicy coating. 

The magazine turned out to be “The People’s Friend.” The logic might have been that because I like reading the Sunday Post (“Not a real paper!”) I will automatically like the “People’s Friend”.  I am not saying it’s not a good magazine.  It is just aimed at an age group that I don’t feel I have reached yet. The adverts include things like The Age UK Personal Alarm for those 8,000 people who fall each day, a TV amplifier and the opportunity to win a stairlift so I can stay in the house I love.

On the front page it makes the claim “A Short Story for Every Day of the Week”. I think I have broken the rules by reading most of them in one sitting. They are very life affirming and positive – the girl who moves next door gets her man, the farm girl makes the right choice between two handsome men in the village and the grandmother who is grieving for her husband is learning to make connections using Facebook!

Making connections! The People’s Friend magazines have a very special place in my heart.  I don’t think my mum actually bought them, but a friend passed them on to her after reading. Mum didn’t pass them onto someone else afterwards but kept them in a pile underneath the coffee table. The coffee table was never used for coffee but became the dumping ground for letters from the council, blue plastic envelopes for Torch Trust cassette tapes of someone reading the local newspaper for blind people, knitting patterns and easy recipes printed in an extra-large font.

When I came home on holiday from college for holidays the pile of The People’s Friends was waiting for me to sort in order of date – and they were all there – and read my way through over the next few days.  I began with the serials – I didn’t have to wait a week for the next instalment.  It was like reading a book.  There were two or three on the go.  I sometimes didn’t get the beginning of the story but could read to the end.  Other times the magazines would run out long before the story ended. 

My mum would sit in a chair, or on the floor, surrounded by knitting usually in the process of coming off the needle to find the row where the stitch had been dropped. She would be knitting, or not, while I would be reading my way throught the magazines.  A quiet and productive afternoon.

There are things that deserve not to be forgotten.  If I start buying The People’s Friend it will not be because I feel I have reached a certain age and in need of an Avanti Swivel Recliner – it will be all about catching hold of a good memory.  Maybe I won’t read them straight away but let them pile up under a table and then sit down one afternoon and read my way through the entire serial stories in one sitting.

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