Wednesday, 3 October 2007

A new Sunday paper ritual for England

The experience that is enjoying a Sunday paper is different in England. I wrote about that before; but now I've created a new experience, my England routine.

I discovered that the Sunday Times is always a broadsheet (I don't like a tabloid on Sundays as part of the joy of a Sunday paper is sharing out sections with your sweetie in bed). I didn't know this as when I asked the newsagent if it ever came in a broadsheet, he said no. He also told me no when I asked if the store carried bread (I couldn't find any). I went back a different day and saw some (they must've been out before). Which means the clerk, while always friendly, probably didn't have a good grasp on English and found it easier to say no if he didn't understand the question.

The Sunday Times still isn't quite what I was used to in America -- only a couple of sales papers for expensive furniture stores, no coupons, no stores offering huge rebates on electronics items (you will never get a new printer for $20 here or a usb thumb drive for free after rebates like I did in the U.S.). And getting the paper delivered to the door seems unlikely and not worth the trouble. The newspaper company doesn't hire a delivery person; you get a newsagent to deliver it. I'm not sure how I can communicate that I want only the Sunday paper to my newsagent, who always smiles and says no if you ask him anything. I could go to another one, but then there is the problem of living in a gated community. I could give them a code to get in the gate, but the delivery person can't get in my building unless I open the door (no code will open the front door, only a key). I lived in a secure building in the U.S., too, but there the landlord gave a key or door code to the Washington Post. Here, there are different keys for each section of the building and I just don't imagine it's possible to get one for newspaper delivery. I've never seen a newspaper on anyone's doorstep. And I sure as hell don't want my Sunday paper ritual to include waking up early to let the delivery guy in.

So the comfort of home delivery and not getting out of the PJs until afternoon is gone. But I've got a new ritual that I enjoy, even if I'd trade it in a heartbeat for a good ole Washington Post delivered to my door for about $1.5o and then getting it free the rest of the week.

Now I go out in the late morning or early afternoon and buy a Times, take it home, put the PJs back on, and me and the hubby go back to bed. The Times may lack some of the cheap sale papers and coupons I like, but it's a great paper with lots of good magazines inserted. At $4, it's a lot more than I'm used to paying, but the several magazines inside make it worth it. The Times isn't ludicrous like a lot of England papers. By that I mean many will resort to name calling and outright accusations in headlines and stories that would never fly in the U.S. The Times is one of the "Qualities", meaning it's not a scandal sheet like The Sun. Papers like The Sun report all stories the way The National Enquirer would -- very sensational and hyped up and with seemingly little interest in truth, fairness or accuracy.

But the Times seems like a real, serious newspaper -- even if the layout often looks like something I would've gotten a failing mark for in college. As someone who has designed more news pages than I can count, I notice the look of a paper in addition to the content. I still don't get why the shoddy layout exists in a major paper in a city like London, where you'd expect more polish. But what it lacks in a polished look, it makes up for in offering an enjoyable read.

Here's a prime example: The Times had a long, interesting excerpt from Eric Clapton's autobiography last Sunday. They wisely included a section dealing with his love for Pattie Boyd, the wife he stole away from Beatle George Harrison. This sort of thing is good reading for a lazy Sunday and really nice to find included in your paper. Check it out. :)

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