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October 19, 2009 6:57 AM   Subscribe

Take A Break magazine has such a huge readership that it was the publication chosen by Tony Blair to address the women of Britain through during the 2005 election. It covers social issues, health, problems and many other mainstays of the women's weekly market. But what makes it so popular? As Take A Weird Break demonstrates, it brings us the stories other magazines won't print.
posted by mippy (40 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Those crazy brits. Get a real publication, like Sun or Esquire.
posted by Taft at 7:06 AM on October 19, 2009


See those headlines would make you think this is a Weekly World News publication, but then they carry things like this.
posted by mippy at 7:14 AM on October 19, 2009


With initiatives like chums4mums, mums4justice, keep women working and mums'army, they make it pretty clear what their target demographic is. The funny thing is that while the tone and content are very similar to the sensationalistic womens magazines that you find in an American supermarket, I have a sad suspicion that initiatives like the ones "Take a Break" spearheads would be considered a bit too feminist for our shelves.
posted by idiopath at 7:21 AM on October 19, 2009




When I'm waiting in line at Superdrug to buy my two for £1.60 bottles of pop, reading the headlines of Take a Break reminds me that some people must live in a state of magical terror, where their husband is really an axe murderer, but it's going to be okay because the ghost of their nan will sort him out. However, reading the front covers online lacks the, how to say, "certain appeal" of watching the person in front of you pick the magazine up and take it to the till. My life would be very must enriched to discover that the magazine publisher had been acquired by the SWP, who were using Take a Break to surreptitiously insert revolutionary propaganda, and that young C2, D, E mums are being primed to become the vanguard of the revolution.
posted by Sova at 7:47 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, this magazine, it's like metafilter?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:57 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's like someone dropped acid and tried to make a print version of Lifetime.

I would have linked to the Lifetime Movie Title Generator, but the site has been pulled down.
posted by chambers at 8:19 AM on October 19, 2009


Is there a point to this post?
posted by doctor_negative at 8:27 AM on October 19, 2009


> So, this magazine, it's like metafilter?

More like Fark.
posted by ardgedee at 8:43 AM on October 19, 2009


Chimpanzee-eek. That is all.
posted by Squid Voltaire at 8:43 AM on October 19, 2009


Take a Break and it's cohorts are odd beasts, with their peculiar mix of 50% saccharine glurge (REUNITED WITH FATHER AFTER 40 YEARS) and dark foreboding horror (MY HUSBAND WAS A SERIAL KILLER), as if the publishers are trying to simultaneously scare and comfort their readership. But who are these magazines for and why do they read them?

I remember being stuck in a long supermarket queue and idly flicking through one. The article I happened upon was titled DOCTORS SAID MY SISTER WAS OKAY AND THEN SHE DIED. The gist of the article - and it was a long one in TaB terms, 2 pages - was that the narrators sister had been diagnosed with cancer. There followed endless consultations, chemo, many stays in hospital and checkups before the doctors gave the all clear. And (only) two years later, on a foreign holiday, the sister contracted pneumonia and died. Nothing to do with cancer, just an unfortunate happening.

So, technically, the title was correct. But really, are the editors just playing with their readership?
posted by outlier at 8:45 AM on October 19, 2009


My mum reads Take A Break, and I used to love it when she sent me her issues.

My favourite column was Pet True Confessions, in which pets wrote (well, it was in the first person) about all the naughty things they did.
posted by mippy at 8:45 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure my introduction to this publication was when Jimmy Carr et al. did a Writers Room podcast about Women's Magazines, but that episode appears to have been swallowed by some kind of internet black hole.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:01 AM on October 19, 2009


(Also: Britain's media is fucked up. It's enough to make America's quasi-journalism seem downright reasonable by comparison.)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:10 AM on October 19, 2009


doctor_negative: Is there a point to this post?

Every once in a while everyone, even us important people who hang about on the internet, need to take a break.
posted by Kattullus at 9:12 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


British Tabloids: Journalism or TERRORISM?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:22 AM on October 19, 2009


Also: Britain's media is fucked up. It's enough to make America's quasi-journalism seem downright reasonable by comparison.

Expand?
posted by Artw at 9:30 AM on October 19, 2009


NB: In the UK, 'tabloids' are newspapers (it refers both to the size and the market - they are generally downmarket papers like The Sun or The Mirror, but still actual newspapers. I guess USA Today is a good equivalent, thoguh it's broadsheet in size THE CONFUSION). Magazines like TaB and the Enquirer are just magazines.
posted by mippy at 9:31 AM on October 19, 2009


This sounds an awful lot like Reader's Digest to me; the combination of saccharine feel-good stories about how wonderful things used to be and baffling fear-mongering about things that don't make any sense.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:44 AM on October 19, 2009


A friend of mine, J, had another friend from university, G, who worked one summer for Take a Break before he got a proper job.

G had just written an article about a story in which a guy had a car crash and ended up paralysed from the waist down and in a wheelchair, and found the love of his life. But the guy didn't want his picture taken for the article (or the guy didn't exist, or the story was reconstituted from some other source - I can't recall which).

So J stepped in and posed in a wheelchair as the guy in the story, which was headlined something like "Paralysed with Love."

I know nothing about any of this until J and I go to the supermarket together. As our groceries are being scanned through the till, J picks up a copy of the magazine and finds "his" story. He also happens to be wearing the exact same shirt as he was when the picture was taken.

Anyway, he became a bit overexcited and started jumping about showing the article to random strangers, saying "look, look, it's me in the wheelchair."

Did that ever get us some strange looks.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:47 AM on October 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also: Britain's media is fucked up. It's enough to make America's quasi-journalism seem downright reasonable by comparison.

Expand?


1. Bald-faced propaganda
2. Frenzied scaremongering
3. Bloodlust
4. Scandal! Scandal! Scandal!
5. Anger! Anger! Anger!
6. Tits!
7. Self-congratulation
posted by Sys Rq at 9:50 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Heh. I think you want to take more time looking at US media.

though I have to admit it is generally free of the dreadful problem of tits.
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on October 19, 2009


That list isn't common to all of 'Britain's media'. I can't remember the last time I saw tits in CrossStitcher.

Actually, quite a few dailies are not quite as you describe. It's like calling all media, I dunno, the New York Post?
posted by mippy at 10:21 AM on October 19, 2009


A lot of them - forgive me for this, I'm a linguist - have a particular style to the stories that make it clear that they are ghostwritten, varying across titles (Pick Me Up often dispenses with connecting words and sticks clauses together eg. 'I started to get depressed, felt awful'). And many of the final pictures in Take A Break stories have the caption 'Me, now'.
posted by mippy at 10:23 AM on October 19, 2009


I'm shocked you might think this! The British tabloids have the highest of moral ethics and would never publish a made up story about light-weight celebs, never!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:23 AM on October 19, 2009


Plus try turning on a television sometime. Jesus fucking Christ.
posted by Artw at 10:24 AM on October 19, 2009


Heh. I think you want to take more time looking at US media.

I really, really do not. Point taken.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:25 AM on October 19, 2009


On my desk at work I have an issue of TaB. It contains a story, with pictures, of a woman who chose to breastfeed a cat rather than her own baby. The article asks whether the child might be traumatised by the knowledge that its mother chose to breastfeed the tabby rather than it. Apparently there's no thought of how traumatising it might be to a member of the public to happen across a photo of a fat woman with a cat mouth-clamped to her boob.

Photos of a woman breastfeeding a cat. Lovely.
posted by veedubya at 10:28 AM on October 19, 2009


But.... why?
posted by Artw at 10:41 AM on October 19, 2009


Breastfeedingcat is one of the strangest sights I've seen in some time. I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their teats, or why.
posted by Free word order! at 12:03 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]




I can't remember the last time I saw tits in CrossStitcher.

Don't you mean CrosssTITcher?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:42 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


A lot of them - forgive me for this, I'm a linguist - have a particular style to the stories that make it clear that they are ghostwritten

In the 60's and 70's, salacious rape stories for fappage were a dominant feature of British Sunday Tabloids like The People and The News of The World (nicknamed The News of the Screws because of its content.)

The stories always went something like this:

Pretty Polly Perkins spent her days as a popular worker in the local supermarket, and there was nothing she liked better on a Saturday night than to let her hair down with some disco dancing at the local Palais.

She had no idea what was in store for her when she decided that she'd take a short cut home along the old canal bank.

Perky Polly, a vivacious and fun-loving seventeen, was just yards from her home when a dark and horny hand reached out from a clump of bushes and grabbed her around her slender, porcelain throat.

Before she had time to scream, that hand was clasped around her throat while another quickly removed her panties.

At this point, our reporter made his excuses and left.

(Perhaps I'm confounding the rape genre here, with the other major staple of these papers, the local brothel exposure genre.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:52 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I spent a few hours in hospital the other year when I got a heart checkup after a panic attack. There was a fair bit of waiting around while I got test results back, and I browsed the magazines that people had left behind in the ward. Lots of Take a Break, Chat, and so on - and almost every one with a story along the lines of "Doctors thought it was a mild sniffle, but in fact it was the rare and deadly FATALITIS". Very relaxing reading for a day of medical treatment.
posted by athenian at 1:17 PM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like to see the word "mum" in all their headlines. As an American, it makes me feel like a clever and cool Brit to read the headlines out loud.
posted by Eclipsante at 1:37 PM on October 19, 2009


I also like the demanding title. It's much better than lame American tabloid titles like "Weekly World News". Take a Break magazine is telling me what to do. I love it when they're forceful like that!
posted by Eclipsante at 1:40 PM on October 19, 2009


I also like the demanding title. It's much better than lame American tabloid titles like "Weekly World News". Take a Break magazine is telling me what to do. I love it when they're forceful like that!

Stop Smiling, Eclipsante. (It's really great, btw.)
posted by Sys Rq at 1:55 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


We used to compete to find the loser of the week in the local version.
I won one time with the girl in the wheelchair who had her fiance stolen by her sister. Her story was only worth $50, which I thought rubbed it in.
posted by bystander at 11:20 PM on October 19, 2009


I confess : I used to buy Take A Break ... but (believe me, you must believe me) it was for the competitions.

You see, TaB had (don't know if they still do, as I haven't bought it for at least 15 years) the easiest competitions ever, where you only needed to fill in about four clues of a 100-clue crossword to find the secret hidden celebrity's name (for which they'd give you a clue anyway by putting a picture of the celeb on the page, along with three others to make it really difficult), or half-complete a 'join the dots'. No numbers games (this was before Sudoko had been invented) but lots of puzzles designed for simpletons.

Anyway, the beauty of this was that they gave away fantastic prizes - cruises, cars, £2,000 to spend in Argos, holidays to the Maldives, etc. (I'm not kidding - the prizes were fucking amazing) and you only had to send in one entry form with all the answers to about 20 competitions written on it (they were all one- or two-word answers). It used to take me about 15 minutes of a lunch hour to do all the competitions, and another five minutes to read the stories. In my defence, I was really poor at the time, the magazine cost about 30p and for the cost of a stamp (paid for by the office anyway) I could have won a new car or a holiday, which I really needed.

I never won a thing.

But a woman I knew won a Vauxhall Corsa. She'd never learned to drive and her husband had no legs. Their chav grandson pimped it out, and one night, driving while off his head on ecstasy, he ran over and killed a pensioner who had just recovered from cancer. Honest to God. I'm surprised TaB didn't write a story about it. But the local paper did.
posted by essexjan at 3:07 PM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I confess : I used to buy Take A Break ... but (believe me, you must believe me) it was for the competitions.

That used to be my mother's excuse back in the day... though I think it was Chat or another clone. (The odd time I picked it seemed a lot less mental than Take A Break is now, more's the pity)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:23 AM on October 22, 2009


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