NO, I won’t change my mind. I quit! Finished! Finito! I’m out. As far as I’m concerned the Cool Cucumber is history. Who knows, maybe I’ll start another ‘zine; Start small again. Turn another small newsletter into an international magazine with a readership of millions.

Maybe I was just lucky, or maybe it was the times. In those days psychedelics were becoming mainstream, we were all into Love, from communes to community houses, alternative medicine to crystals and, what underlies all successful magazine marketing, SEX. But now we have AIDS and Economic Rationalism, Look after number Oneism, We have Political correctness—we have Emma!

EMMA, a name oldfashioned enough to be modern. She came to us with excellent references—author of several books, the darling of the new-breed feminists. She was full of fire, and spunk, and Go-get’emnesss. Trouble was, and is, that the Them she was going to get was us, men.

In the beginning, it seemed okay. She was quick, intelligent. She met all her deadlines. Her copy was always on time, completely free of typos, she could even spell. In fact, she was so good that I had no hesitation in making her copy editor. Gaia help me! I was even congratulating myself on promoting such a paragon.

I don’t know when I first grokked something was wrong. It was so insidious—Chairperson instead of Chairman, using plural nouns to avoid awkward phrases such as ‘his and hers’ I admit ‘their’ sounds better. But it didn’t stop there. When the Brotherhood of Man was transformed into ‘The Sibship of Personkind’ I felt that things were getting a bit out of hand. I made the usual jokes about referring to manholes as person holes, and extrapolating personhole cover to mean G-string; but, it seems, Emma has no sense of humour.

Trouble was, Emma had struck a chord. She, as a well-known author (she’d kill me if I said Authoress!), had brought a new readership to the magazine. We had always prided ourselves on being more than just a Boobs and Bums rag. Unlike our American cousin magazines, people really did buy Kool Kyuke to read the articles and stories. Some issues only had one nude, and we seldom featured pubic hair. I admit it was conceived as a Man’s magazine. That is why, initially, we were so pleased to widen our readership; the gnomes with the wallets at head office calculated ‘double the readership – double the profit.’ Looking back, I wish I had never sold them the controlling interest during the eighties crash.

It was so gradual, like that disgusting story of the boiled frog. Put a frog in hot water and it will jump out. Bring the water slowly to the boil and it will stay there to be cooked. Man, was I a frog! And now my goose is cooked, to mix a metaphor.

I took no great notice of the switch to politically correct language, even had a sneaking sympathy for the patriarchally induced paranoia that afflicted my new copy editor, but things got beyond a joke.

First, she incited disaffection in my mainly female staff (we were always proactive in affirmative action (some of my best friends are feminists). Then she seduced and married the chief moneybags, making her my boss’s boss. Then she put the boot in! Under the guise of a marketing strategy, she ordered a change to the name of the magazine.

“We are changing the name. The Cool Cucumber is sexist” she said. She explained that the cucumber was phallic imagery. It embodied all that is crude and macho in the man-beastly arrogance of the typical male.

I was angry. I blew my stack. “Do you think The Warm Cucumber would please your type of feminist better?” I asked, “Or wouldn’t that old money-bags ‘Mr Emma’ like the competition.”

I should never have called him ‘Mr Emma’. She told him, of course, and his shysters soon found some small print in my contract. I, the founder and editor of Cool Cucumber for the past twenty years, am being forced into a niggardly redundancy package. She is going to call it The Black Cat, and you know what sort of magazine that is going to be!

And that’s the bitter truth. Things were fine until last year. Then Emma came!

The End

© Copyright H.St V.Beechey 1996