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March 11, 2014 8:55 AM   Subscribe

A collection of reader 'Top Tips' from UK 'true life' magazines.

Occasional 'top tip' roundups can also be found here, here and here. Unlike Viz, who have parodied this trope for years, one can only presume they are serious.
posted by mippy (40 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

My boyfriend is English and I'm not, so I've become a reader of his Viz-es without being familiar with many of the things they're satirizing. These are my first real Top Tips and I'd never have guessed they'd be so much like the parody ones.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:03 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]

You read them and laugh, but there's always some you go "Ahaha...shit no actually that's a really good idea."
posted by billiebee at 9:05 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]

From that first link, I'm-a tell you one thing: that "cat bed" does not appear to be well-received.
posted by Kitteh at 9:09 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]

Welp, I'm off to gather nuts on my way to court.
posted by The World Famous at 9:24 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]

It says "need more chocolate" and it's stuck to the seat of her underpants.

Apparently I am seven years old.
posted by phunniemee at 9:27 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]

Does anyone actually think Viz.'s "Top Tips" aren't serious?

You pathetic sharks!
posted by chavenet at 9:27 AM on March 11

HORSE whisperers: Speak louder. The animals will hear you more clearly, thus speeding up training times.

God, why didn't I think of that?!?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:30 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]

The thick, old-fashioned kind made great twin mattresses for Barbie dolls.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:31 AM on March 11

That cat in the cat bed tip looks like she's thinking "I am Warrior Queen Longclaw and you expect me to bed down in this?" Has anyone checked to see if the person who took that picture is still alive?
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:34 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]

Some of these just seem silly and some are probably low-class but, hey, if they make somebody happy, great. But... turn your coat inside-out and clip the tags off? Make after-dinner mints out of frozen toothpaste? Doing puzzles made of shredded photos? These are like the top ways to convince your family that you're no longer able to safely care for yourself, because you've been feeding people inedible substances and playing with trash.
posted by Sequence at 9:38 AM on March 11 [21 favorites]

Twop Twips on Twitter: HELP local community fundraising campaigns by painting to the top of their giant thermometer.
posted by jbickers at 9:41 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]

I am sure some of those entries were used as evidence at competency hearings...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:45 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]

My favourite ever Viz Top Tip:

Why waste money on expensive binoculars? Simply stand closer to the object you wish to view.
posted by Decani at 9:51 AM on March 11 [18 favorites]

For those unfamiliar with the real thing.
posted by Paul Slade at 9:52 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]

The tennis ball massage thing is totally real and useful. I use tennis balls when my leg and hip muscles are tense.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:03 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]

.... I'd never have guessed they'd be so much like the parody ones.

The more you learn about England, the more you realize that the Monty Python show was part comedy, part documentary.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:14 AM on March 11 [17 favorites]

The double-decker cat bed actually looks like something cats would enjoy.
posted by mippy at 10:26 AM on March 11

So ... can someone explain what "true life" magazines are, and how they differ from run of the mill tabloids?

Looking at Chat Magazine's website, it looks like it's equivalent to perhaps Us Weekly, which is basically a standard celeb/gossip rag. But the impression I get is that the "true life" mags in the UK are distinct from the celebs-and-royals ones.

Or are they the same thing, just that one term is preferred by the magazines themselves and the other by those who are more critical of them?
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:29 AM on March 11

Serve your friends toothpaste at a party! They will definitely continue to be your friends after you do this!

Your nephew will LOVE wearing your old pajama pants out in public! He did not pose for that picture just to placate you!

But seriously, the bra-as-kneepads one is genius. I'm totally saving that one for future bathroom cleaning. Also, I may or may not be considering making my own set of lofted cat beds...
posted by augustimagination at 10:32 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]

The double-decker cat bed actually looks like something cats would enjoy.

I dunno; the industrial shelving one looks more likely, but you would have to have a lot of cats....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:38 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]

Not sure if real fake tips or fake real tips...

(I'm leaning toward fake because all those cities listed after the submitter name sound made up. "Stoke-on-Trent" ... "Ipswich"... Psh. Sounds like some place out of Harry Potter.)
posted by Skwirl at 10:39 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]

That imgur album is like the world's saddest Pinterest board.
posted by dislegomena at 10:42 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]

LIFE HACK: metafilter
posted by Fizz at 10:44 AM on March 11

So ... can someone explain what "true life" magazines are, and how they differ from run of the mill tabloids?

OK. Here's your quick guide:

- 'Tabloids' in the UK is used to refer to newspapers. Traditionally they came in a smaller format and took a lighter or less wordy approach to news (see: The Sun, the Star, the Mirror) which can often be sensationalist.

- Our equivalent to US Weekly would be magazines such as Heat or Closer, which report on what slebs are up to this week interspersed with fashion, movie reviews and the odd true-life story. The latter is probably closer to the US mags, particularly as it is utterly obsessed with diets and weight. (Every story will give the subject's dress size, relevant or not.)

- There isn't really an equivalent to the Enquirer, which falls between the sleb mags and the true life mags. Maybe the Sunday Sport? That's a tabloid paper which prints exaggerated and sensational stories interspersed with tits.

- 'True life' mags rarely carry celebrity stories. They tend to be what, if we were to be wanky, we could call 'user generated content'. Regular members of the public 'tell their stories' on their pages, which can be tragic (young child dies of a disease, horrid crime sees mother murdered), shocking (woman runs away with Greek water who steals her money, man had an affair with my grandmother) or more humourous slice-of-life things. They are very popular in the UK, mostly with CD2E (media speak for 'working class') households, mostly women with children or what the media sometimes calls 'Asda Mums'. How popular? Well, Tony Blair featured in the magazine when Prime Minister to reach that audience, and sometimes they run campaigns surrounding post-natal depression or anti-social behaviour. They feature competitions - top tips are submitted with the promise of £25 or £30 if you include a photo - and readers are often paid for their stories.

They'll also feature recipes, health and fashion features (which I like as they're budget friendly) but the main focus is sensationally-reported True Life Tales.
posted by mippy at 11:33 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]

The most similar US magazine to the UK "true life" category that I can think of would be something like Women's World.
posted by augustimagination at 1:16 PM on March 11

Not quite. I remember the UK magazines being more like that when I was little. But now all the stories are just beyond tragic. They're weirdly dark, I find, the horror stories interspersed with pics of readers' pets and articles on moisturisers for mature skin. This is the current issue of Chat. Death! Murder! Plus: the best strawberry smoothies.
posted by billiebee at 1:31 PM on March 11

Sounds related to True Story, True Confessions, True Detective and other "true" magazines?
With a circulation of 300,000 by 1923, the trend-setting publication remained a huge success through the 1920s and was a key title in Bernarr Macfadden's publishing empire of Physical Culture, True Detective, True Romances, Dream World, True Ghost Stories, Photoplay and the tabloid New York Graphic. It sprang from Physical Culture, stemming from the many letters written the magazine by women about their experiences.[1] By 1929, the circulation of True Story was nearly two million.[2][3]
True Story offered anecdotal experiences, and the articles it presented, rewritten by staffers, were purportedly true. However, by the mid-1920s, many stories were professional submissions from fiction writers or were staff-written by Macfadden's stable of writers, including Fulton Oursler and Lyon Mearson. The language was kept relentlessly simple; Mcfadden would test language on the elevator operator, and reject whatever he could not understand.[4] Articles were illustrated with photographs of posed models, breaking away from the idealistic illustration common in magazines.[5]
I don't know how popular these magazines are in the US, or anywhere, but I went through a very brief fascination with True Confessions around age 12 (as well as Italian photoromances translated into English - talk about a lost art). Bitter memories. Don't remember any Top Tips.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:45 PM on March 11

Take a Weird Break hasn't been updated in well over a year, but the magazines haven't changed in that time - it collected genuine headlines from true life magazines.

I love these magazines, but I'm usually too embarrassed to buy them. They're much more interesting than celebrity magazines, even if they're much more tragic.
posted by Vortisaur at 1:47 PM on March 11

I read some of these a few years ago when a neighbour gifted them to me and the only thing that stuck with me was the recurring use of certain phrases or euphemisms - people never had affairs with each other, they just "couldn't fight their feelings any more", and didn't get pregnant so much as "noticed changes in their body". And many people ended up not being able to fight their feelings with the partners of friends, colleagues or close family members (and not unrelatedly subsequently noticing changes in the bodies of themselves or others). Apart from that, they did often contain some quite informative articles and general chat.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 1:53 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]

How is the 100 point tube here any more difficult than the other tubes? Terrible game design.
posted by HeroZero at 1:58 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]

These mags were my guilty pleasure for years but eventually they got too dark for me and I had to stop.

Chat magazine's strap line is:

Life! Death! Prizes!

Do a Google image search for Chat magazine and you'll get a selection of its astonishing front covers, showing off all three in abundance.
posted by penguin pie at 3:06 PM on March 11

You read them and laugh, but there's always some you go "Ahaha...shit no actually that's a really good idea."
posted by billiebee at 9:05 AM on March 11 [2 favorites +] [!]

Wha...? Which ones? No, really??
posted by Salamander at 7:14 PM on March 11

Putting your cat in a baby's crib is definitely a sign of projecting, among other things.
posted by Spatch at 7:49 PM on March 11

Wha...? Which ones? No, really??

Putting your phone in a glass to amplify the sound.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:09 PM on March 11

Wha...? Which ones? No, really??

You clearly didn't get to the "Dusty Springclean" one... And don't tell me you've never thought of sticking a load of hats on your wall to create a "3D hat picture"!!1!
posted by billiebee at 3:36 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]

And then you come to one which says "No Sat Nav? Write your directions on post-its and stick to your steering wheel, tearing off each stage as you get to it". I'm going to actually use that one.
posted by billiebee at 3:37 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]

From Viz, Thanks to Paul Slade:

EARN BIG money by displaying a "How's My Driving?" sign on your car, along with an 0906 number ( £1.50 per minute) which you can aquire through BT. Then simply drive around town like a complete arsehole.

This is such a good idea!
posted by glasseyes at 8:29 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]

Though I'm thinking the list in the OP is fake, since the same two girls are featured in all the photos.
posted by glasseyes at 8:30 AM on March 12

They're clearly the magazine's models, though. I can just imagine their faces each time they learned what they had to demonstrate...
posted by billiebee at 8:53 AM on March 12

Put a picture of yourself on a potato and then peel it so you can visualize what you'll look like after you've lost the weight.

I'll have to tell my friend Spudsy McTater about this.
posted by whoaali at 11:40 AM on March 12

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