In which the buff boys had better beware

To be printed 27/01/11.

We're at the end of what was really a very newsy week. Just as the papers were cracking their knuckles and sitting down for a session of prime punning on their 'Johnson-out-balls-in'-style headlines, the world decided to throw a  bit more (decidedly less punnable) news at them. Then a bit more. Then a bit more, then some more after that.

But amid all the resignations and stepping downs and bowing outs, there was one demise that I'm afraid will go sadly unnoticed. Except by a clutch of under-informed thirteen year old girls looking for torso pictures of One Direction to put in their lockers. Yes, Sugar magazine is going to that great wastepaper basket* in the sky.

A large proportion of you won't appreciate what a sad loss that is. Because, obviously, nobody reads magazines anymore! Do they? Not the yoof, anyway, who we all know get all their information from weekly podcasts transmitted directly into their brains from speakers in the Topshop changing rooms, at a frequency only the under-18s can hear. But for any female alive before 1992, or any male who has ever had  a young female ask him anything about female functioning that they really rather wouldn't answer, the loss of teen mags is a cause for lamentation.
Coming from a family of averagely strict principals (yes to the hair dye, no to the Faliraki holiday), I graduated through  a well-worn chronology of girls' mags. I started on Girl Talk, but wasn't allowed Shout! because it talked about training bras. Then I moved onto Shout! but wasn't allowed Mizz, because it talked about periods. Then I was allowed Mizz, but wasn't allowed Sugar because it talked about kissing boys. By the time I was allowed Sugar, I had realised that far juicier titbits could be got out of my Mum's Woman's Weekly, albeit with a side portion of menopause and hair thinning.

There was one gloriously libertine phase where a dog-eared copy of More found its way into the waiting room magazine pile at my dancing school, leading us all to race to ballet early for a sacred ten minutes poring, goggle-eyed, over the pages. I still consider More a bit too racy for me now if I'm honest. There's no pets corner, for one.

But the joy of girls' magazines wasn't just down to their information, it was also about the participation. I spent a significant portion of my tweens staging humiliating accidents in front of boys (in girl-mag-speak, "lush lads", "gorge guys" or "fit fellas", always alliterative) outside McDonald's, just so I could sell the story to the Cringe page for a £10 Tammy voucher. Aside from flavoured lipgloss, embarrassment was essentially the currency of these publications. If your parents weren't humiliating you, it was your teachers. Or your friends. Or your little sister, who just happens to have a snot attack over new hoodie as a buff boy walks past outside Morrisons.

Then, of course, there was the crowning glory of the girls' mag - the problem page. This was where we learned to outwardly say "eww, what a freak," while inwardly going "phew, glad that's normal." Where practising snogging on the back of your hand was a sane, sensible thing to do. Where the answer to everything, every single thing, was "just be yourself! And maybe phone this helpline." Aunt Sally in the Sunday Times has definitely got the wrong idea.

But the saddest thing of all about Sugar folding? I'll never work there now. And I had a whole folder of Cringe stories saved up, just in case.

*Recycling box, I mean. Sorry, sorry.