The Cottage Smallholder

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The Oldie Magazine


Contessa snoozing beside The Oldie

Contessa snoozing beside The Oldie

My mum started buying The Oldie when I was an animator in Soho. I’ve been a fan ever since. I often saw Richard Ingrams in the street as I worked round the corner from their office but was too shy to congratulate him on his excellent magazine. My mum has passed it on to me since then and it has been eagerly devoured by me for 17 years. Danny has racked up 11 years on The Oldie reading front. It’s almost as good as being given a subscription to a magazine. We read it a month out of date. But out if date doesn’t apply to The Oldie. It’s timeless. Rather like Punch or The New Yorker. Both sadly gone from the news stands but still available online. In the case of Punch it’s just archives but fun to visit as the cartoons are great. I can almost sniff That Dentist Smell when I think of Punch. A magazine only thumbed in the waiting room – hilarious jokes with a strong overlay of adrenalin and fear.

We subscribe to other magazines. Country Living (which started off with a £3 for 3 months tempter from the Magazine Group), Gardening Which? (This will feature growing vegetables all year round in 2010).  The Garden  (which now has a good vegetable growing section) and is bought with membership to the Royal Horticultural Society and PC Pro (guess who subcribes to the latter!)  But we both agree that The Oldie is much the best read it is packed with interesting well written articles, a wide range of reviews and memorable cartoons. If we could only have one magazine it would be The Oldie.

Richard Ingrams writes on The Oldie website ‘After editing Private Eye for over twenty years, I decided in 1992, along with a group of friends (Auberon Waugh, Alexander Chancellor and Stephen Glover), to launch The Oldie. The aim was to produce an antidote to youth culture but, more importantly, a magazine with emphasis on good writing, humour and quality illustration. Sixteen years later, The Oldie can well claim to be a success story, attracting some of our best writers, illustrators and cartoonists.’

And it’s that and more. The Oldie is not bursting with retirement related articles such as how to use a zimmer;  in fact one of my favourite covers was a cartoon of a couple using their zimmers as multiple dibbers on their veg patch! The Oldie is packed with stimulating articles from cookery to urban whacky to art and the internet. It’s eccentric and fun and it’s a magazine that we return to time after time as it’s not padded out with pages and pages of beautiful advertisements. This means that each issue gives many happy hours of browsing in bed or in the loo.

Last Spring my mum announced that she was getting a bit bored with The Oldie. She had her knife into Wilfred D’Eath a rather unusual character who always seems to be up to no good. We were horrified.
“Can’t you just skip his article, the rest is great.”
Secretly I quite like D’Eath and the man who uses his old Volvo estate as a sit in filing cabinet.

But a few weeks later she was back into it again. If she’d cancelled we would have subscribed and passed it on to her.

The Oldie website is fun, it gives a real flavour of the magazine. There’s even a quiz to assess whether you too could be an avid Oldie reader. You can even try a three month subscription to The Oldie for £3.00. Sometimes I think that the title of the magazine is off putting. The Oldie is not about age and more about attitude. Its tone is chirpy and upbeat – perfect for these rather challenging times.

  Leave a reply


  1. Happy Christmas

    My Mum is sat in the chair giggling away to herself, no it’s not the sherry but The Oldie she is reading 🙂

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Magic Cochin

    I passed with flying colours but I’m ancient 🙂 and I don’t mind at all.

    Hi Tamar

    This mag is absolutely up your street (quality of writing not age) so I’m delighted to have added to your daily burden of must reads.

    Hi Joanna

    I started reading it in my early forties.

    Hello Kate

    Ohhhh lucky you!

    Hi Veronica

    The doctor’s surgery has Saga magazine and I agree with you it’s really good. The Oldie is better – fun, quirky and eccentric. We love it.

    Hi Pat

    If she has a sense of humour your mum will love this present. Guaranteed.

  3. Brilliant….

    Subscription for the year is my Mum’s Christmas present.

    Thank you

  4. Veronica

    Confession: I rather like Saga magazine 🙂 It has some interesting articles, interviews with interesting people I’ve actually heard of, and is a bit more grown up than the average women’s mag. But now you’ve tempted me with the Oldie (even though according to the quiz I’m not!). It looks really interesting. But my husband was shocked enough by my reading Saga — I don’t know what he’ll say if he sees me clutching the Oldie 😉

  5. kate (uk)

    One of my father’s closest friends used to be a regular Oldie cartoonist…my father was his executor and as I was executor for my father I inherited all the paperwork, which, I’m delighted to say, included an envelope with some of his original drawings inside.

  6. Supposed to be researching an assignment on retaining rural young people and you put in something like that. Gee thanks! I got 8/10 perilously close to being an oldie at the age of 45

  7. Oh Fiona, I don’t know that I can thank you for this. I have terrible trouble keeping up with The New Yorker — the thing comes twice a day — and now you’ve given me something else I really do have to read. (The print version is cost-prohibitive in the US, but the website isn’t.)


  8. magic cochin

    I’ve just taken the ‘Oldie Test’

    … and I failed 🙂


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