Hung up on Julie and Toby
The 'Modern Review' has been shut down by its editor, Toby Young. Can't, says Julie Burchill, its founder. Media folk are taking sides in the mother of all postmodern battles. Phone-lines are hotting up. John Lyttle, a former contributor, fields the calls; Martin Rowson (also ex-MR) pour s oil on troubled waters
Saturday 03 June 1995
"The vultures come home to roost," my friend laughs.
"Are you on a mobile? I can't hear you. Say that again."
"The vultures have come home to roost. Let the Modern Review close. It was vanity publishing with nothing to be vain about. Eighties cultural studies dragged up with jokes, pretending to be journalism. And it went on and on about how boring cultural studies were. Was that hypocrisy or stupidity? I couldn't tell. I could never tell what the Modern Review was about. Except Toby Jug's ambition. What did it stand for?"
"For Nineties confusion. It was contradictory because it was of the times. Julie wanted it to stand for something. Julie wanted it to be more political."
"Remember all that talk four years ago at the launch about it being as big as the New Statesman in its heyday? You knew where you stood with the Statesman. And they had, whatshisname, Graham Greene. Name me someone of equal stature on the Modern Review. Ha!"
"Julie," I say. My friend moans.
"But you're Julie's friend." The mobile link breaks up again. My friend's voice is a faraway whisper. "Hold on," I say. "At least La Burchill set up the Modern Review. She put her money where her mouth was."
"Not enough money for such a big mouth."
"It also gave young people chances the mainstream press didn't in subject matter and approach. And the mainstream press regularly picked up on features. It was influential."
"Come on. You know how it really operates. All those free copies of the Modern Review landing on the arts desk, the features desk, editor's desk. 'Oh, look, there's an idea I can take. Save me having to think of one or having to commission a writer. And the Modern Review is young and hip, isn't it. I want to be young and hip too.' That's not influence, that's laziness. And it's not being 'in touch' with youth. Most of those MR guys were in their thirties. They just wrote young. Toby Young, unfortunately. I subbed his copy once at the XXXXXXX. Enough said."
"The Modern Review was a job creation scheme - about networking, not popular culture."
"Have you told Julie that? Or Toby?"
"No. Have you?"
Silence. So we rehash the obvious. After all, there had been close to a year of verbals, with Burchill bitching about Young - usually at the Groucho Club -- complaining about all that American crap he was putting in her publication and how everyone hated him, and Young returning the compliment (he was the one who had to find contributors, get them to write for minimum payment, stabilise a circulation down from a peak of 30,000 to 10,000) with each party's camp wondering how much the other side knew or cared, because in theincestuous world of the capital's media, such wild words could mean everything or nothing.Especially with Julie, everyone's Feud Queen, but also, conversely, oddly, all forgiving; a woman who called Camille Paglia "a raving bull dyke", but whose shoulder pads are permanently soaked with the tears of friends in need.
"But Toby didn't need her any more," my friend theorises. "Maybe that was the problem."
"Julie says he was jealous of Charlotte."
"Charlotte Raven, Julie's new love, the babe who replaced husband Cosmo Landesman?"
"Does Julie know that Toby used to sleep with Charlotte?"
"There are Amazon tribes that know Toby slept with Charlotte. Hmm. What will happen to Toby Young? Where was he before the Modern Review?"
Pause. Crackle."God, I don't know. I do know he won't be able to recite his party mantra anymore: 'Hello. I'm Toby Young, editor of the Modern Review.' "
"All change for Toby."
"All change for Julie. I realise he shut the magazine down..."
"Burchill says he can't. She's 50 per cent owner..."
"Whatever. He closed it, and now Julie has no ties to her old life. Bye-bye Cosmo. Bye-bye Toby. Hello lesbianism..."
"She's been on speaking terms with lesbianism for a while."
"But now she's fluent."
Beep. Beep. "Call waiting. Got to go."
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway in dense fog
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
The Great Comic Relief Bake Off, TV review: Alexa Chung impresses, but Chris Moyles makes Paul Hollywood gag
Drugs Live: Twitter responds to Jon Snow and Jennie Bond smoking cannabis
Seth Rogan's pot fumes delay hacked Sony boss’s office move
India's Daughter: BBC Four documentary provokes outrage on Twitter
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin