Today I had an appointment with an orthopaedic consultant surgeon, for an issue which has been ongoing for the past five years. As always, you are given a appointment time which bears no actual resemblance to the time you will be seen. On arrival, and having "checked in", the waiting room was empty, and I sat down pleased, thinking this was my lucky day. A nurse then called my name within minutes, and I was off. Fantastic. Only, she took me to my consultants waiting room, wherein sat 20 bored and miserable people.
This was my second visit in the past three years. I wasn't expecting any good news, but surprisingly, to both of of us, things are looking up. For what I thought, and had been told as much three years ago, was a hopeless case, turns out to be not that bad. After studying new X-rays it appears there's been little change, and the injury has stabilised, to the extent where I am the perfect candidate for a little done surgery technique that could improve things ten fold. More on that in March after the procedure.
So I'm sitting there, twiddling my thumbs, observing those in all manner of casts and slings, and feeling a bit of a fraud with my "sore toe", when I spot the ubiquitous pile of magazines. The usual rubbish was there of course, in the form of celebrity gossip rag mags. I surmised the misery in the room was because most of them had read these mind-numbing publications. Amongst the rubbish was a gossip magazine of a different kind however, The Tatler.
A famous magazine there is no doubt, but one I had never read. I picked it up, curious. Turns out that the name comes from the phrase Tittle Tatler, literally meaning "gossip". There was a picture of the very first edition front cover, which ran with the epigraph:
"Whate'er men do, or say, or dream
Our motley paper seizes for its theme".
It was most popular in the middle classes of the early 1700s and had been designed to be read at leisure in the "coffee houses of St James". I'm guessing Starbucks circa 16th century!
To my surprise the paper/magazine has been going a long time. Over 300 years! It was started back in 1709 by a chap called Richard Steele, formerly of Charterhouse.
As an aside, the name Richard Steele brought a smile to my face. Now sadly passed away, back in early 2011, a very good friend of mine in the film industry went by the same name. And the same spelling. That was a nice coincidence. I wonder if he knew?
Steele and another Charterhouse chap, Joseph Addison, went on in later years to start The Spectator newspaper.
This particular issue of The Tatler was the 300th anniversary edition, and had been sat in this waiting room since 2009.
Thankfully I didn't have to wait that long.