The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Top Shelf …

When I was a kid, the top shelf of the newsagent was what I imagined Las Vegas was like.


Adult stuff.

Things no one should mention.

What am I talking about?

‘Men’s’ magazines.

I’m not talking Playboy … but the very English, very low-rent versions that were all – weirdly – either named after Ford cars or luxury London streets.




Park Lane.

In the early days, the covers were on display for everyone to see.


Young boys would walk into newsagents and stare at them while trying desperately to not look like they were.

For most people, that was as close as you would get to them because buying one – or even looking through one – was out of the question.

What if someone saw you?

What if someone you knew saw you?

Of course someone must have been buying them because they were produced for decades.

I know for a fact that ‘one-eyed’ – the newsagent opposite the Nottingham main police station – was a magnet for the pervs and the teens, because it was small enough and out of the way enough to get away with it, but I always wondered how many of these would be bought at major players like WH Smiths.

Over time, the covers got covered up.

Not just to protect the innocent, but to try and stop the objectification of women.

Of course, given The Sun still had ‘page 3’ and claimed to be a ‘family newspaper’ this meant it had absolutely zero impact … and even today you can see those attitudes are still alive and well in all walks of life thanks to so many companies – including those specific to women evolve and grow – having a vested interest in making women feel, or be seen, as offering only looks to the World.

Anyway, the reason I say all this is that I recently walked into a WH Smiths to buy Otis a magazine and was pleasantly surprised – and a bit shocked – to see the top shelf was just that, a top shelf.

No doubt part of this is because porn – or erotica, or whatever title you want to give it – is so readily accessible that you don’t need ‘specialist magazines’ anymore as opposed to society having a healthier, more balanced attitude towards women [or sex] but it was weird to see nothing but genuinely ‘family friendly’ titles on there.

What was funny was one of those titles was something I was interested in buying for Jill, but the context from my past meant it was almost impossible for me to grab it.

That’s right, a ‘word puzzle’ magazine was loaded with baggage from what the top shelf once meant to me and I wonder if that is something that reflects my individual weirdness or something bigger … where being placed on the top shelf of WH Smiths may be best for visibility but worst for purchase.

And before you think I’m a total nutter, remember the brilliant – but slightly mad – Clotaire Rapaille believes your first exposure to brands and experiences frames and defines the way you look at them forever.

25 Comments so far
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If you think it was bad for you, Baz could only reach the first shelf.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Congratulations on maintaining your mental age of 10. 🖕🏻

Comment by Bazza


Comment by Billy Whizz

Is this linked to Rapaille or that you’re just a sentimental fool. Even for shelves in shops?

Comment by Bazza

I may have reached ‘peak sentimental’.

Comment by Rob

Is this your admission of purchase Robert?

“I know for a fact that ‘one-eyed’ – the newsagent opposite the Nottingham main police station – was a magnet for the pervs and the teens, because it was small enough and out of the way enough to get away with it, but I always wondered how many of these would be bought at major players like WH Smiths.”

Which one were you, the perv or the teen?

Comment by George

As a parent, I would rather adult material went back to magazines than the access to pornography that kids have on their smartphones today. Parental controls help but the sheer volume of material is the equivalent of magazines being in packed lunch boxes rather than top shelves. That makes me sound very old, but while a child wants to grow up as quickly as they can, a parent wants to maintain their innocence for as long as they can.

Comment by George

A peevert teenager fits perfectly.

Comment by Bazza

Isn’t that comment similar to the one you just threw back at Billy?

Comment by George

No. My comment is true. His isn’t.

Comment by Bazza

There may have been one or two occasions ‘one-eye’ was visited with Paul. There may be one or two very funny stories about it.

But not for today …

Comment by Rob

It is not like you to show restraint? Are you feeling OK Robert?

Comment by George

And it’s not like him to take an opportunity to throw his best mate under the bus.

Comment by Pete

Very funny Rob. Wasn’t there an old joke in the 80s that Ford we’re going to name their new car the Readers Wives?

Comment by Pete

Yeah … but I thought it was around the fact Ford launched a car called ‘The Probe’ to take the smut association to a whole different level.

Comment by Rob

The probe. A terrible name even without adult magazine association.

Comment by Pete

Was it at least a pornography based word puzzle to justify its shelf location?

Comment by Pete

No. Though that would be an amazing puzzle to solve.

Comment by Rob

They still sell dirty mags, but these days they’re focussed on dodgy diets and celebrity lifestyles.

Comment by John

They still corrupt innocent minds.

Comment by John

if anyone would know it would be you doddsy.

Comment by andy@cynic

Wanna swap collections Dodds?
Some of my pages aren’t stuck together.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Oh Billy.

Comment by George

you dirty little fucker campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

Best reference ever.

Comment by DH

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