John Walsh: It's hard to believe that I'm reading the very last 'Word'

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

The last-ever edition of The Word is out this week. The last ever! Though news of the magazine's demise broke two weeks ago, there's something poignant about viewing the body. For if ever a magazine seemed yelpingly alive, The Word does. You can examine the final issue with an electron microscope for signs of metal fatigue, and find only energy, vividness, heat and pizzazz, features on The Cure on tour, Lou Reed, Martin Amis, the mysterious death of South African star Sixto Rodriguez.

The writing is still as crisp and flavoursome as a Walker's Smoky Bacon. And as you turn the pages, the editors pull off their nine-year-long trick of giving you stuff to read that they somehow knew you'd love to read without even consulting you.

How? It comes down to the eclectic taste of Mark Ellen and David Hepworth, who parted company with their employers at Emap to launch The Word as an independent organ, publishing only material – on music, books, films, pop culture and TV – they themselves would want to read. So the magazine lived by trusting the taste of its readers rather than chasing a more, shall we say, commercial demographic.

I feel bereft by the closure, as if some cool, witty friends had been suddenly "disappeared" by some malevolent caprice of Fate. It was a monthly treat for almost a decade. Its departure is like discovering, at six, that Peek Frean aren't making your favourite biscuits any longer. Or hearing, at 50-something, that the d'Arenberg vineyard is no longer making your favourite white wine. Only this is worse because you won't just miss consistency and reliable excellence; you'll miss the element of surprise – in an argument, a shocking disclosure, a nimbly witty phrase – every month.

Can something be done to bail it out? If ever a publication deserved a second breath of life, this one does. If enough of us explained to him that The Word is an exemplary package of clever ideas, vivid encounters, good writing and attractive add-ons like free CDs and podcasts, would an enlightened plutocrat hand over enough cash to see it through the recession? Could Bob Diamond be persuaded to do good with his £2m severance money and subsidise issues 115-215? Could the Government intervene with some taxpayers' money, if we explain that the magazine's characteristic writing style should be adopted as a paradigm by smart 15- to 18-year-old state school kids?

Realistically, I can't see it happening, though. Any intervention would try to change it, to give it broader male-reader appeal, to "FHM it up a bit" as one reader suggested. All we can do is say thanks for 114 months of intelligent high jinks, and hope the energetic creators resurface in another part of the media forest, to our (bittersweet) delight. In the beginning was The Word. Shame it's the end.

Now a spokesman for the weather...

Radio 4's Today programme is about the triumph of reason. Every day, they confirm that there's nothing on earth – from healthcare provision to British tennis – which cannot be held to account for its shortcomings. If something goes wrong with the fabric of society, they'll call in whoever's responsible (or their quaking spokesman) and bombard them with logic until they crack. But now they've met their match. They can't find anyone responsible for the weather.

Every morning, you can hear the presenters get more enraged about the precipitation from the sky: "And now the weather… urrrgh. Rain. Blustery. Scattered showers. Good God! I mean…" John Humphrys cannot conceal his disgust at the egregiously sub-standard climate. Jim Naughtie's scorn for drizzle renders him almost speechless. Even the unflappable Justin Webb sounds frustrated beyond endurance, a man trying to punch a raincloud.

The trouble is, there's nobody to blame, not even a spokesman for the miscreant organisation behind the downpour. The closest you can get is the Gulf Stream. I like to picture John and Jim and Justin on the day they heard the news. Did they say, with hope dawning on their faces, "Who's in charge of the Gulf Stream? Can we get him in?"

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Charge Accountant

£20,000 - £22,000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Property Management Grou...

Head of Sales, London

£70 - 95K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Head of Sales, Milton Keynes

£70 - 90K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Head of Sales, Bristol

£70 - 90K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Russian President Vladimir Putin  

How to deal with Putin without crossing moral red lines

Dominic Raab
Prostitutes face a high risk of contracting HIV, yet they are offered little help from the Government  

Want to rid the world of HIV? Then you can start by decriminalising prostitution

Pamela Das
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game