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Me and my sister started getting into magazines in a big way in the days when work was quiet and we'd fill the extra time on our 11 hour shift reading magazines. Adele bought the 'Real-life' magazines and I bought the celebrity magazines. Between us we spent a small fortune every week. Work has since got busy, but we still find the time for a magazine. Or two.
Chat is one of the real-life-stories genre like 'That's Life!' or 'Full House!' and at a first glance seems reasonably priced at 78p for 68 pages. Let's have a closer look at what you get for your money. While work has quietened down a bit, like….
So as not to spoil any of the stories for you, I've chosen one from about a month back.
The cover has the usual sparkly-eyed, gleamy-white toothed cover girl beaming out at you in a 'Oh I'm so glad I don't have the life of these Chavvy Ne'er do wells that feature in my magazine' sort of way. Then there's the headlines screaming out at you - MY TEN INCH TONGUE! (with the picture censored because it's so shocking), KILLED FOR KINKY SEX- MY SICK LOVER WANTED ME TO DRINK HIS BLOOD! And other sensationalist titles. Sounds good so far, although sometimes the stories aren't quite what they are built up to be and can be disappointing.
The first two pages are little titbits and photos sent in by the readers along with the contents neatly categorised and a quick handy at-a-glance page finder for the cover stories.
First story with a 'Shock Factor' of 9.9 is the story of Natalie Yemm who had a lucky escape when dumped by her (married) boyfriend who later went on to arrange for his new girlfriend to kill his wife. Incidentally, my cousin worked with him for a while!
Next let's meet 'Fast Pete' the 'Rich and Successful businessman' (wonder what Vicky Grainger, 43, Manchester - saw in him then?) who refused to pay anything towards the baby he didn't want, despite having a Ferrari, and leaving poor Vicky in the lurch.
World of crime - Which for some reason seem to happen mainly in America or Germany. Elizabeth is abducted from her home and made to live with two nut jobs after they received a message from above, and often left her tied to a tree to stop her escaping. Happily all turns out well for Elizabeth.
Sheila Bell's sends out a plea to find her natural mother. Hear her story on page 27 Read about Fu Xiaohui's ten inch tongue, not as amusing as it sounds on the cover. Poor Fu developed Macroglossia - a swelling of the tongue which left her with a huge, black, crusty tongue so large it hung out of her mouth leaving her unable to talk, eat or breathe properly. Living in a remote village in China it's only this year she has been operated on and now looks like anyone else.
Doreen Munn tells of her son who has learned to play the drums and guitar despite having no lower arms. A bit of Mafia Mystery now…what happened to Jimmy Hoffa? He goes to a meeting with his mob acquaintances and hasn't been seen since. Has he been put through a mincer? Been built into the New York Giants stadium? Someone knows but they aren't telling, obviously.
Page 10, 11 and 13 see us at 'Your 2 minute Chats' 3 mini stories to read while you're waiting for the kettle to boil or having a poo. Or something like that. This weeks chats see Hercules the Goose, Weasel the no-eared dog and Ricky who has a very limited diet - cheese, peanut butter, marmite and bread; an 80 year old bride to be, and a saucy advert for carpets (with the obligatory shag jokes, obviously)
After all that reading you need some reminders of your upcoming holidays, so it's swimming cossie time - a selection of swimsuits from various companies.
Then there's the section I usually skip, the psychic page. Yes you too can send in you're double exposed photos and claim it's your dead gran come to watch over you. Any questions for KC the psychic mutt? (seriously) There's another Psychic page - this time Ruth The Truth answering your psychic questions. The stars more your thing? Page 52 has your predictions for the week - a new job for me?
Get ready for the summer with Martyn Fletcher's tips for lovely feet. With their recommendations for products you have no excuse for having Traed Moch (pig's feet) to go with your lovely new cossie that you've picked from earlier on. If your feet are beyond saving try one of his recommended blushers so at least the orange stripes on your face can detract from your trotters.
Chat To Us! Here's your chance to have your say, send in your amusing pictures, or nominate your other half as 'My Hunk', with a chance to win £50 for the star letter, £25 for any letters with photos printed, or £20 for any others printed.
Did you know, to clear a cough, pluck a hair from your head, put it between two slices of bread and feed it to a dog with the words - ' Eat well you hound, may you be sick and I be sound' This old wives tale can be found with more conventional advice on the health page. I wouldn't try the above remedy though as the smell of dog sick tends to linger. Subjects ranging from testicular cancer, inverted nipples, weight loss and styes can be found here. More advice from Denise Robertson on page 59 on stuff like impotence (although I'm sure it's illegal for 69 year olds to have sex anyway); and get some advice from a private detective on how to trap your no-good, son-of-a-bitch, cheating other half.
Another regular page is 'Just Kidding' with the daft things that kids say, and the anecdotes that are sometimes really not funny/cute, except perhaps to the relevant child's parents.
One of my favourite pages last of all, Top Tips! Ever needed to paint your plimsolls to look like watermelons? Use fabric pens! Plenty of other time and money-saving tips here.
As well as the stories and features, there are plenty of puzzles to keep you occupied - 19 prize puzzles in all. For the price of a stamp you could be in with a chance of winning up to £1001. Or even just complete the puzzles for fun.
So that's a brief look at this issue, it comes out every Thursday. I think it's good value for money, although I counted 16 pages of adverts not including another 3 for classifieds and lonely hearts. Even so I reckon this is pretty much standard these days for magazines. Like every other magazine there are weeks where the stories are crap and you wish you hadn't bothered, and a lot of them do get to be pretty similar - sick babies, people who can't have kids but now they're pregnant, jealous lovers, but for what you are paying I'd say it was still a bargain for something to read on your dinner break or when you've got an hour to spare. I would say along with Take A Break, it is the best magazine of this kind. Go on, get some loose change together and treat yourself to a Chat!