In this often rather bizarre episode of Cutting Edge, we took a look behind the covers of The Lady; a magazine as quirky and doggedly eccentric as the – few – Britons who read it.
Founded around 125 years ago by Thomas Gibson Bowles, The Lady was once ‘the’ magazine to be seen reading. It was where one found one’s butler or discovered riveting tea party conversations starters about the history of the cucumber. And it’s apparently the Queen’s favourite magazine.
Now, under the ownership of Bowles’ great-grandson Ben Budworth, readership has declined to an all time low and his family have been propping it up financially. So he decided to hire Rachel Johnson – sister of the buffoon Boris – to turn around its fortunes…
Ben’s not really down with running the magazine; it seems to be something of an odious burden to him, a point which became apparent when he pointed out that he leaves everything to Rachel now. As he put it, “What’s the point of buying a dog if you’re going to do the barking yourself?”
I’m sure Rachel won’t be chuffed with being likened to a dog, if only metaphorically, but for as much as it probably irks her, she’s an employee and he’s her boss, so tough cheese.
However, by making her alpha bitch, Budworth bestowed her with a power she seemed all too happy to wield in the hiring and firing department. And those she couldn’t fire – how ghastly for you darling – were given offices some place where she didn’t have to look at them.
She also went PC crazy and hired male writers! Can you imagine?! Other changes were afoot too and we heard how Johnson secured the services of the Duchess of Devonshire as an agony aunt. I’m thinking of writing in with a really juicy ‘problem’ such as what to do if one bonks the head gardener and he threatens to tell all…
Overall, this really was little more than a further attempt to secure a bigger readership for The Lady, but it made for entertaining viewing as I looked down my nose at those who would undoubtedly look down theirs at me.