A wise man accepts that he knows nothing.
I am not a wise man because I continually find things that, despite everything I have learnt up to that point, I find completely incomprehensible. You may accept that you don't know alot of things, or that lots of people know alot more than you, or that no matter what you do you will never know as much as you should. But you like to think you at least have a handle on what is possible.
So I'm in Borders in Oxford. Borders has the best range of magazines in Oxford, better than WH Smith, better than anyone. I occasionally treat myself to a magazine that I have either never seen before or never read before.
Today, I saw a magazine that looked exactly like every other woman's magazine but was called, simply, Hair. Yes, it was a monthly magazine purely about hair. Nothing but hair. What hair people have, what you can do with hair, what products to buy for your hair and, of course, lots and lots of pictures of models with great hair.
I was pondering how many copies Hair sold each month and what sort of turnaround of readers it must have (surely people don't buy Hair every month?) when I suddenly realised that Hair magazine wasn't the only hair magazine there.
There was also Hair Now. It turns out that while Hair is “the UK's best selling hair magazine”, Hair Now is in fact “Europe's best selling hair magazine”. But it doesn't stop there.
Here is Your Hair magazine (“Make every day a good hair day”). And what the hell is this but Hair Ideas (“the handbag-sized hair guide”).
I am not making this up, but next to Hair Ideas is Perfect Hair (“Your unbeatable guide to all the latest trends”). And next to Perfect Hair is Blonde Hair (“Because blondes do have more fun”). And finally, and insanely, there is Hair & Beauty – which has a tiny “& Beauty” run 90 degrees to the “hair” masthead.
So that is no less that seven – seven! – magazines in the UK alone dedicated to hair. I have a horrible feeling that I'm also missing a niche hair magazine that may have sold out.
Never in all my wildest dreams did I believe that the market for hair was capable of supporting seven hair magazines. What the hell do you do with a hair magazine? Why on earth would you want to buy one a month? And what the hell is the difference between different hair magazines?
I'm afraid I can't answer that because the idea of paying even 10p for a magazine about hair makes me despair for my life. I am not a wise man.