It is difficult to tell the following story without sounding like a ‘typical bloke’. I can offer no excuses, sadly, and so will have to plough on regardless, trusting to the fact that you believe in my fine, upstanding character… Anyway; while casting an indifferent eye across the shelves of WH Smith recently, my attention was caught – briefly – by a magazine cover featuring a scantily clad lady.
Now, before you jump to conclusions, let me point out that I wasn’t standing next to ‘those sort’ of magazines (and certainly not ‘the other sort’ either!). The magazines within whose vicinity I happened to be standing were fishing magazines, and so it was something of a surprise to see a woman wearing a bikini on the front of one of them.
It was even more of a surprise to see her proudly displaying a large fish. Presumably it was a warm day when she caught it, or maybe she stripped off especially in celebration. Either way, above this picture – and below the magazine title, which I failed to note mainly through shock – was the ‘tag-line’ of the publication:
“Putting a throb in your rod!”
For fear of being associated with such innuendo (says the man who has just consciously written the words, “proudly displaying a large fish”), I moved along quickly. The impact on my innocent and naïve mind was less easily disregarded, however, and the presence of such a magazine – in what is presumably a fairly staid ‘sector’ for the publishing industry – begged a number of obvious questions.
Is the past-time of angling desperate to attract a previously untapped market by utilising a ‘Max Power’-style of design? Or has a market been identified within the existing angling community that makes such a publication feasible? And whichever of those two is the case, just who is going to be ‘turned on’ (to sufficient degree to buy the magazine) by a half-dressed woman cradling a giant flatfish in her arms?
The mind boggles…
In an effort to be somewhat better informed prior to embarking on this particular topic, I looked up the magazine in question and discovered it to be called Fish ‘n’ Tips, which is an adequate pun if you make certain assumptions about the target audience of the cover design. This is the first issue, so it will be interesting to see whether the policy of photographing cover girls and fish together is sustained (at least, it would be if I was going to buy it, but I’m not).
In the interests of balance – and I do recognise that my attempts to describe the situation in an amusing fashion could be construed as damning such an approach to magazine publishing – an internet forum thread regarding Fish ‘n’ Tips had a post by the editor (Mark Barrett) defending his creation against openly-sceptical (and in some cases, scathing) contributions from other forum members:
“We are doing things a bit differently from the rest, that’s true, and yes there will be some attractive ladies throughout the mag, but you would see more flesh on page three of The Sun. What we are about is quality writing and photography with the accent on fun and the enjoyment that fishing is to all of us. You won’t find an article in Fish N Tips that tells you how to tie the latest wonder rig for the umpteenth time. Instead what you will find is good stories, humour and the camaraderie that angling engenders. Angling is brilliant fun and it’s about time that this was represented within the angling media.”
To which I can only say: “Fair enough.” Because, in all honesty, I don’t have a particular opinion one way or the other – angling doesn’t interest me, and if there are people out there who do want to read the magazine then good luck to all concerned. As someone who writes with aspirations of ‘success’, there is no reason to question an attempt to provide quality material on a particular subject. At the same time though, it does seem … unfortunate … that a need is felt for that content to be accompanied by pictures like “a half-dressed woman cradling a giant flatfish in her arms”, apparently without irony.