Wednesday, 28 March 2012
Q Magazine And Me
I remember finding the first issue of Q. Rain on a grey autumn day in Richmond, a weary search for something to read on the train home in the poky newsagents opposite the ticket office in the station, and then a music magazine that I'd never seen before, and I read everything; Smash Hits and Blues & Soul, all four Inkies, Rolling Stone and Hot Press and The Face. I can recall flicking through this Q-thing as I trudged down the steps to the platform, I really can remember thinking that this was smart and fun and inclusive and perfect for the long, commuter-saturated journey home.
I've never stopped reading Q. There have been times when I've found it more or less interesting, but it's not something that I'd ever give up reading. There are things we do which are no more and no less than a part of the everyday bedrock of our days. I listen to the Radio 4 news as I awake, I read the Guardian over breakfast, I always look forward to new comics day, I'll always check out the new 2000Ad and I'd never not watch each successive series of Dr Who. And now it's more than a quarter of a century since I first bought Q, and I'm sitting in a garden far away in space and time from the drizzle of a West London Eighties October, and in front of me are two copies of the magazine's latest issue. One of them I picked up from a newsagent in a small Norfolk country town yesterday morning, one was added to the night's shopping by the Splendid Wife from a supermarket passed as she drove home from work. And there, absurdly, unbelievably, on page 119 of the May 2012 edition of Q is a new comics review column, and underneath its title are three words;
"by Colin Smith"
And that, I keep having to remind myself, is me.
I don't know what I could have possibly have said to the young and even-more-stupid me of 1986 if, by some impossible science-fiction conceit, I had the chance to travel back and speak to him. I wouldn't want him to know what was ahead, because he'd never have got out of bed and he had hard lessons to begin to learn which couldn't be coped with tucked up under the duvet. But perhaps, if I were in a sentimental mood, I might have just said that in another quarter of a century's time, he might just have a chance to contribute a comic's column to an issue of Q. And while just about everyone else on the planet might justifiably see that as a minor achievement to hang on for through 25 years and more, I think he'd have understood. In fact, I'm convinced he would have.
Do I sound sentimental here? I know I do. But there we are, some things round off circles that we weren't even aware of. Getting a chance to contribute to Q has been a tremendous experience. I look at every line I write differently now.
Alot of folks would see this as a matter of no importance at all. I absolutely understand that. But it's my by-line in this month's Q, and I'm so pleased to have had the chance to see such a thing come true. I can see it here in front of me now, on two different page 119s in two different copies of the same issue of the magazine.
Wonderfully, every time I look at them again, the article is still there. Reality, said Philip K Dick, is that which will not go away when you cease to believe in it, and I've doubted that such a thing could ever have happened so often that this must be real. So shoot me for caring, but I can remember the first issue of Q in 1986. It was a bloody awful year, and things wouldn't get better for a long, long, long time. But they did, and that's especially true now.