Friday, March 19, 2010

The Lady & The Revamp: Rachel Johnson will be seeking new employment shortly


Best laugh of the night was The Lady & The Revamp, a TV fly-on-the-wall of Rachel Johnson's nascent editorship of the old cunties' weekly, The Lady.

Appointed just because of brother Boris' fame - editing her uni mag being her only other qualification - she stormed through the old banger with some startlingly original ideas. Such as sacking the fiction editor because he had a loud voice. Such as putting upcoming septuagenarian stars Julie Andrews and Joan Collins on the cover.

Rachel frothed at the presence of her predecessor's name on the masthead as editor-at-large and as opera/travel/whatever contributor, even likening her to a norovirus lingering on the premises.

The matriarch owner of The Lady described the pre-Rachel mag as "bland" while Rachel raged heretically that no one could give a toss about the publication and that its proprietors were living in a fantasy bubble: she was their link to the real world. What provoked her ire was their failure to enthuse about a 5000-word Sunday Times Magazine profile of Rachel by the mediocre Lesley White who'd likened The Lady to a corpse. In truth, the ST only bothered because of the Boris link.

And what of Rachel? Like her bro, she's direct, engaging, with a conventional brightness. Typical of her generation she is oblivious of legislation protecting the rights of employees - in the show she refused to understand why those of long tenure couldn't just be dumped with the trash. She did the usual bullying things of relocating unwanted staff to Siberian office outlands while the proprietors repaid staff loyalty with treacherous indifference - concerned only about appearances and legal niceties. Rachel has worked for the Sunday Times so perhaps she picked up these bad habits from them. Nonetheless part of me warmed to her: she's making the most of a lost cause.

At no point did I hear anyone explain what The Lady is for. Oh, and would someone repair its website. It never opens when I knock.

For certain Rachel will be looking for a new job very soon - she's wise to be keeping a diary.

35 comments:

Louis Barfe said...

There was slightly more to Blez's departure than his sonorous voice. Doubtless he'll hold forth about the documentary on his blog - http://libradoodle.blogspot.com - before too long.

Five-Centres said...

Fascinating stuff. She fucked up from day one. Mocking your magazine and especially your reader - and on national TV too, will seal her fate.

Not that she'll be that bothered. She clearly couldn't care less about the magazine. It was just a bit of fun but she knew she was out of her depth.

I'm getting tired of 'celebrities' from papers being brought into run magazines. Newspaper people always think running magazines is a piece of piss. They soon find out it's not.

I look forward to seeing who her successor is.

Perhaps she could spend some much-needed quality time with her children.

Madame Arcati said...

If Rachel had any savvy she would have kept Arline on the masthead and used her as a bridge to the old matriarch and established readership. Still, the show will make a star of her.

Val Derma said...

Superb review. But why does your stuff also appear on the Anorak site? Doesn't this rob you of readers?

Anonymous said...

Roger 'Suicide' Lewis is now the Lady's interviewer in chief. Does that help?

Madame Arcati said...

Golly gosh, I didn't know that. Well, I didn't say Rachel was entirely found wanting in taste.

Anonymous said...

As a former member of staff on The Lady I would first like to register my objection to your description of the magazine. I won't repeat your word. But this is typical of a certain mindset that cannot understand anything that is not celebrity- and youth-obsessed. However I can see from the tenor of the piece that you are as much appalled by what Johnson is doing to the magazine as I am (as are many many former lost readers).

Johnson reminds me of Sarah Sands who similarly blighted Reader's Digest with "stars", over-used writers from newspapers, and a Sunday supplement approach to lifestyle features. It is the complete lack of any originality that amazes me. It is as if a whole generation of journalists has been turned out by a sausage factory. Whatever happened to individual thinking and style?

The magazine continues to lose money and certainly the new readership Johnson claims to have found are fly-by-nights. Next she'll be running cover mounted gifts though I hate to think what she might regard as appropriate. And why she imagines the audience would be interested in anything Will Self has to say is beyond me.

Please remove that offending word in your copy. It will be a sad day when we lose a magazine which has entertained and informed generations of women.

Anonymous said...

I always thought that The Lady was magazine you bought when you wanted to find a new cheap nanny.

the late B.Cartland said...

How lovely to hear the Lady will soon be joining me in my fluffy cloud pink paradise.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right about lack of originality. The entire British media is terrified of originality. It's a dirty word now. Cast your eye over the magazine covers in any newsagent. Dead lumpen brochures all looking identical.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. I understand that a piece on Sam Chesterton's posh B & B - Finca Buen Vino is appearing in The Lady (?). Let's hope for his sake, the loyal readers haven't dumped the mag in droves.

LT said...

you CANNOT include Debo as one of the "old cunties". I won't allow it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, The Lady has had cover-mounted issues in the past, that would be nothing new.

Another former employee, I have always had a soft spot for the magazine – it's part of London's literary history – but I have only started to buy it since Johnson's arrival (I'm in my late 30s). She's on the right track when it comes to garnering new readers but the established readership is unlikely to follow. It may be a bridge too far. Previous ownership and editing allowed the rot to set in long ago.

I suspect Rachel will stay a year, then leave to publish her diaries on the experience.

Madame Arcati said...

Were I the old matriarch in my family pile, I might listen askance at having my magazine trashed by its editor and my family described as out of touch. One must not forget lèse majesté.

Anonymous said...

They should bring out a supplement: The Ladyboy

Madame Arcati said...

Or perhaps call the mag The Laydee. Then they could put David Walliams in drag on the cover, as I believe Rachel plans to do.

Marinero said...

I always thought it was spelled with an O next to the U.

None of Muriel's terms of endearment here, please!

Anonymous said...

To the former member of staff on the Lady
Please remove your complaint. It will be a sad day when we lose an offensive word which has entertained and informed generations of sweary-Marys like me.
Thank you
Miranda McM

Anonymous said...

I accidentally found this site because as a long-time reader of The Lady I was interested in this TV programme which alas I failed to see. I am APPALLED by your language and by the tone of your review. You are evidently an intelligent person so why you feel the need to descend to the use of obscenity mystifies me. It is entirely inappropriate and seems designed to offend for the sake of it. I notice that you are pictured with Molly Parkin. This explains everything!

cyberboris said...

To be fair, it is an impossible task. All the hard core readers love the mag. as it has been for years, and the owner didn't want Rachel to offend those people, but he also wants a huge boost in circulation and how can you have both?

I thought it was very cowardly of the owner chap to make Rachel do all the sackings, he should have handled all that. How is she supposed to know the best way to do it when she doesn't know the people, or the correct procedures?

I was a bit stunned at some of the editorial choices she made, but then again, it was a totally impossible task. My review below.

http://cyberboris.wordpress.com/2010/03/19/boris-on-you-tube-2/

Anonymous said...

Scroll down, dear, for the Duncan Fallowell cockpic.

Anonymous said...

aaaaargh!!!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant as ever Darling MA. Paul Blezard is a handsome and sexy old cock, he'll land somewhere literally literary and lovely. Rachel RIP and may the lovely Boris Boufant soon follow his sister click-clickety in his ruby reds, Barbara Cartland-wards. X

Madame Arcati said...

Mmm like your style, bitch.

Melanie Sands said...

The magazine was at an all-time sales LOW, so I don't think she "fucked up from day one" as one poster wrote here.
I don't see why she wanted to sack some of the staff, although it is probably hard to teach old dogs new tricks.
She sacked the man because he would have been her foremost rival and she didn't want the hassle of having to manoevre around male vanities.
I thought the show was very interesting actually, but running a magazine is rather hard...especially something like the LADY, which appeals to 45 plus - I'm 45plus but I wouldn't want to have a magazine with sweet old grannies all over the place, and even sweet old grannies don't want that. If something is called the LADY I expect it to show me "posh" stuff that I could perhaps even afford...

Madame Arcati said...

Yes, well I see the latest cover girl is Sharon Osbourne who is rich but not posh, English but not resident. She's also on record as saying she loathes nannies (see the Screws' Fabulous mag last weekend). If I'd had to think of someone who's the antithesis of The Lady, it's Sharon O.

Anonymous said...

Most bizarre. One minute Duncan Fallowell's appendage, next an essay on The Lady. What next?

Anonymous said...

Well, the definition of a real lady is a woman who can go down on a feller without losing class

a middle class twat said...

It is the nature of all new editors to dump on employees to make their editorial prowess felt-so often lacking in them- so Ms Johnson had the difficult task of culling for the managemnent and being a cunt as she would have been anyway.

I'm alarmed to hear Sharon Osbourne is on the cover. I like her very much although she should not be forgiven for not driving over that dreadful father when she had the chance one day but she is most defintely not Lady material. It means the magazine is sunk.

I must declare an interest: I once applied for the job as handyman and my girlfriend as nanny in Belgravia via an advert in The Lady and we were successful although both were made to stand in the pouring rain at the front door for a full 20 minutes as one would expect persons of that class to make the lower orders do whilst their references are checked.

Madame Arcati said...

Sharon O did it for me when she failed to shoot dead Ozzy for shooting dead all her cats. You have to draw a line and her moral failure is not something I can forgive.

I can understand why editors may want to let go staff to make way for their own mini-mes; what matters is how they go about it. Johnson plainly has no respect or understanding for laws designed to protect people's employment interests - she said as much in the show. She also resorted to bullying by casting out the mature features editor into a cupboard.

Her comments about mature staff and Arline Usden revealed insecurities, immaturity, arrogance.

The only thing going for her is a blustering forthrightness which in times of war can pass for courage. I'm sure she'd be happier writing more novels and lifestyle pieces for the Sunday Times.

Cassandra said...

Absolutely LOVE your suggestion re The Laydeeeeeeeee, Madame A - also feeling anonymous's inspired idea re The Ladyboy

Waldo Lydecker said...

I've only just caught up with this programme, and was mesmerized by Ms Johnson's mercurial tits. She came out of Rigby & Peller with both of them pointing in the same direction (natch - you get what you pay for at the great R&P), and then we saw her chairing an editorial meeting with the two of them slumped under her sweater like two tired puppies that were no longer talking to each other. Most distressing.

Madame Arcati said...

Darling Waldo, a most excellent critique: an essay could be written on Johnson's mercurial tits. If ony Prospect went in for this type of TV review.

Anonymous said...

It was a well-made programme. I could see why they'd given her the job as she seemed enthusiastic and convincing.- But there again she doesn't have any track record at editing. - I wasn't convinced that a list of 'contacts' is what she needs.- More like an eye for a good writer and picture. I'm sure some of the talent already lies in her office. But also perhaps she should be searching out for contributors who are not in her address book. The current magazine looks v. poorly designed. The pictures are awful. The new writers seems to come from the Oldie or the old style Telegraph. Hardly exciting. On current course I agree it will die.- Sarah

Madame Arcati said...

Hi Sarah, tend to agree. I was surprised, too, that no mention was made of its online presence. The publisher Ben and Johnson could only think in terms of hard copy sales which I think is bit outdated. That its website seems permanently down suggests to me that The Lady for all its sexing up and contacts sizzle, is as much behind the times as ever.

Of course Johnson is not the first editor to imagine she can reinvent her publication by using fashionable newspaper writers. As a rule this doesn't work because such writers have little feel for the mag and repeat old tricks.