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Thursday, November 4, 2010

The end of my Good Weekend column

What a strange day. Much of it spent feeling like George Clooney (but unfortunately not feeling George Clooney…) in Up in the Air, comparing Qantas lounges around Australia.

They really should put meat pies out.

Then it got even weirder because today was the day that it finally hit the media – via Caroline Overington’s excellent piece on The Australian blog – that my column in Good Weekend is coming to an end after 12 years.

I found out a couple of weeks ago, while I was packing for my two week book tour. My first reaction was to keep it a secret, as though that would somehow make it not true.

But it quickly became slightly surreal to stand at my book events there with audiences telling me my column is the ‘only thing’ they buy the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald/The Age for and knowing it was about to cark it. So it only seemed to right to starting warning them that November 20th is the last one.

I must say the timing is excellent. To be greeted with rooms full of the smiling faces of lovely people – sometimes two different events in a day – who are there because they really like my work is exactly what I needed to get through it.

Mind you, I have been a journalist for thirty years, so I do know how these things work. Also I’ve known since I moved back to the UK to be near my ageing mother (she’s 88) that I was probably on borrowed time and I’m proud that I managed to get 600 of them out before the axe fell.

So I’ve taken it on the chin. And I didn’t shed a tear until the beautiful tweets and blog comments started rolling in today. Here are a selection:

Dear Maggie,
I've just read on Girl With A Satchel (via your Twitter feed) that the Good Weekend column is about to come to a full stop. How sad. I love your column, it's one of the first things I read, and I read it aloud to 'my other half' in bed, either on Saturday night or Sunday morning. Regret that I couldn't get one of your book events. I look forward to reading you where and when I can.

@milijana_: nooooo :( what will I have to look forward to on Saturdays :(

@pruereid: I just read the Aust. blog, even sadder now that I realise it wasn't ending by your choice, 3 generations of my family will be too!

@batrock: I actually had one of your columns in either my HSC or trial HSC English exam - I had already read the column so I did pretty well!

@alice_elizabeth: I'm devastated to hear this Maggie. Your Style Notes opened my world to so much more than the small town I lived in as a teenager.

@stolenredbasket: No! This isn't true? I quoted your column for my high-school yearbook 'Whoever said the right pair of shoes can't change your life'

@fashion_hayley: No reason to buy the paper on Saturday's without my favourite column by
@MaggieA there to greet me

@jules_stonesoup: it’s the only reason I buy the weekend paper RT @Reemski: @MaggieA end of your column?? WTF??

@BeeDreams: I am gutted that @MaggieA Will no longer grace the pages of the GW- and who gives a shit where she lives? She's great- booooooo to you GW!

So I had a little weep when I read those, but they were such a comfort. Thank you so much. Then I put on a pair of truly fabulous high heels (see photo above) and headed off to my Canberra book event.

One lovely young woman said that she couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t read my column. Then another told me her mother has recently died, aged 93. In her last few months she couldn’t see well and each Saturday she asked for my column to be read to her.

When she died they read one out at the funeral. It was ‘If The Shoe Fits’, which I think is in one of the books. So that set me off welling up again. I think it’s one of the most touching things that has ever happened to me. Another lady brought me a beautiful bunch of roses from her own garden.

I feel very blessed to be so appreciated, but now is the time for the end to my sadness and the seizing of the opportunity. I may be absent from the pages of Good Weekend, but I have no intention of disappearing from your lives. Oh no.

There will be a much improved website (the current one is in limbo) and two more blogs, which I have been planning for some time. Please follow me on Twitter @MaggieA for news on those.

And if anyone out there needs a columnist who comes with thousands of truly gorgeous, bright, funny, stylish readers of all ages and both sexes – gun for hire.

One last thing. If my columns do end up being available only on line, I feel it is an act of apartheid against my loyal readers who aren’t internet attached, which tends to be the older ones.

I have so enjoyed the letters I’ve received from this group – men and women - over the years, so I have a request. If any of you have older rels or friends, would you please print out my column and give it to them each week?

With much love

Maggie xxx


  1. Best wishes for the future, Maggie.

    I will miss your column in Good Weekend.

    Take care,

    SSG xxx

  2. Dear Maggie
    I am sad to know your column is ending. Your column is often the bright jewel in a sometimes hard hitting news magazine. I loved you can make fashion tell stories.
    But I look forward to reading your new pursuits, and am honoured I got the chance to meet you.
    Love Carly

  3. I'm sorry to hear that Maggie, I also read your column every week :-)
    I'm sure there will be an uproar when the decision is more widely known.

  4. Maggie,

    Maybe, you could also appeal to people who are inclined to print your blog posts for someone else to read, to teach them how to access your blog. Might open up a whole new world for them too!

    Best of luck in whatever your new venture will be.


  5. So sorry to hear it's ending... One of the things that so frustrated me about our move last year to New Zealand was leaving your column behind (friends are second to my newspaper habit). I had only just got over leaving The Sunday Times and India Knight in the UK three years before!

    I would call my husband in the flight lounge on his frequent trips back across the Tasman to "quick quick, grab me the damn mag" and then fall on it when he got home. Please write again online - then it doesn't matter where I (or you) move to next...

  6. OH sad news indeed. Love your column - how will they ever replace you? I look forward to your next instalment here - if only everyone were blog savy, then they wouldn't ever have to miss out......

  7. Dear Maggie, I am furious with the SMH, and will probably cancel my subscription! I already follow you on Twitter and read your blog, your column once a week wasn't enough Maggie for me! I turned 50 this year and no other journalist speaks to me like you do..... my friends are sad too.
    How do we start an online petition!!!??
    Thanks for 12 wonderful years and can't wait to see you at the ABC tomorrow.

  8. Fairfax are MAD. No offence to Mark D, but you are far funnier, smarter and have much better shoes (that one was a given). Wil be terribly sad not to see you in the GW each Saturday but am glad to know I can continue to follow you here. All the best for your next adventure Maggie- and it WILL be an adventure. It always is with you. x

  9. I have just decided that I wouldn't mind going to a rock weekend and camping out sometime soon!!
    And as an oldie I will follow your column wherever so just keep writing we will all be here!
    Absolutely loved Shall we Dance have recommended it to all my friends.

  10. Oh Maggie. You must be so sad but so excited. I can only imagine the work, spirit and love you put into those columns over the years.

    Your words were a small, but regular, part of my life through my mid to late twenties and I hope you will continue to be a presence in my glorious thirties, forties and etc. Onwards and Upwards and always in style!

    Thanks for being there, babe.

  11. I am so annoyed with GW right now. GRRR.

    I wish you best Maggie for whatever the next big adventure is. You were a highlight of my Saturdays for 12 years. xxx

  12. How will I know it's Saturday if I haven't read your column?
    All the best for future adventures,

  13. My Saturday's will be all adrift now, without the anchor of your column.

    May your continued success be a thorn in Fairfax's side.

  14. Oh Maggie, I just found out :-(
    You will be so very missed in my weekend Herald.
    I actually use your column as a kind of reward; I won't let myself read it until I have read all of the dry news first - then I skip to your words as my special treat.
    Damn SMH

  15. Oh Maggie, I nearly cried when I saw this on GWS yesterday...I'm one of your readers who doesn't remember a time without you...I started reading GW when I was about 17 at home, and have read religiously ever since. You showed me style when I had none around me in a small country town and I thanked each Saturday for your wit & grace.
    I hope that you carry on writing about style & books no matter who takes you on, and I know GW will be less now without you.
    Thanks x Angela x

  16. Having stayed up till 2.45am today to finish Shall We Dance, and having shed a tear yesterday at the news that your column was ending {how am I meant to know it's the weekend without your column - the first thing I turn to and the one thing I always read?} I just wanted to say thank you. I can't wait to find out where you pop up again xx

  17. Maggie,

    Your column was an education for me in the fashion industry as a young girl and has seen me through many years. It was THE avoidance technique I used at work of a Monday morning. It was so great to meet you on the tour and I think you are a wonderfully generous and giving to your audience/fans having now met my fair share of author-y types. It is incredibly sad to see your column come to an end but I am so looking forward to seeing what you do in the future. xxxxx

  18. Dear Maggie,

    From your columns to your collections of columns, from novels to blog to Twitter, I've read with joy. Yours was the favourite Saturday morning read, saved until last and savoured. I always appreciated that so much of yourself went into your columns and that you shared with such humour and honesty. Thank you for many years of reading pleasure, frippery and serious both - I'll miss the weekly fix but will look forward to so much more.
    With thanks and lots of love,

  19. Maggie, thanks for a wonderful blog post! And thank you for all your wonderful columns. Like many others I can't remember when I didn't read them and I've always flicked ahead in the Good Weekend to find it to read first. Good luck with what comes next and I look forward to keeping up with you online!

  20. Dear Maggie,
    Let me join the chorus! I too am sad to lose you from my Saturday paper, however ultra happy to learn I will be able to follow your witty words all over the net :-)
    Thankyou for the years of wonderful reading in GW and here's to many more in new and exciting places!

  21. Maggie, thanks for your many lovely columns over the years. I always used to read the ones about washing and the correct way to hang clothes on the line to my granny. She was in absolute agreement with you! love catriona

  22. Loved your weekly articles Maggie and will be sorry to see you go. Not sure if GW are aware of the decision they have made sometimes those in the lofty places 'think' they know what their audience want....

    Anyhow Mumbrella said you were looking to concentrate more on your blog. Ahem....if this is true you will be in need of a blog redesign me thinks. A simple blogger template might not cut the mustard for you anymore :-) Feel free to drop me a line if interested.... (yes, yes cheeky I know!)

  23. dear god what are they going to put in there - essential reading discerning discerningly scared. strange to put their marketing spiel on the front cover...
    Thank you for all your fabulous words and ponderings! LOVED IT! LOVED IT! LOVED IT!

  24. I'm in shock - and must add my voice to the many who will miss you. My weekend never feels complete until I've read your column. I always save it for last, as a reward for wading through the sometimes more serious articles along the way. Have been known to retrieve the paper from the recycling well after the weekend if my partner's binned the paper presuming I'd finished - not realising I still had one more column to read. You wouldn't have known Maggie, that in February, when you wrote a column about your recent illness and pyjama months, that I had just emerged from the precise same scenario - having spent the three months of summer hospital and bed bound - with a changed body and attitude and desperate need for something new. It was a lifeline to me. I think I have read every column you have written - and most certainly all of your books - looking forward to settling in with your new one somewhere cosy soon. I will endeavour to work out the blog thing because I can't bear to lose you. This is very sad news and the weekend just won't be the same without you. xx Nicole

  25. I am so sad to hear this news. You have no idea how much joy your column brings me every weekend. Thank you Maggie for making my time reading your column on Saturday's such a joy for so many years. You have touched my heart and my mind so many times. Saturday morning won't be the same.

  26. I wanted to say how pleased I was for you when you fell pregnant with Peggy. I remember vividly reading that particular column when you announced it and being thrilled for you. We are about the same age and, sadly, I wasn't so lucky. But I do have a very nice cat. Did they give you a reason why they gave you the elbow? It seems most odd. I can't account for it at all as yes, it was a must read for me too.

  27. Nooooooo! Well, that's it then I am not buying that paper on a Saturday after November 20th. COme to think of it may not buy that paper AT ALL again. It's their loss and you will be snapped up by another more deserving publication. One door closes and another opens, remember, but nevertheless am still so very sad to hear the news. Loved seeing you at the book signing at Melbourne at Readings and thank you so much again for a wonderful evening. Very much enjoying 'Shall we Dance'.X

  28. Oh and p.s. I did once get meat pies (and they were very good too!) at a Qantas Lounge. x

  29. Oh No! *stamps foot* I love your column in The you know what. What are they thinking??? To make it worse I have just renewed my subscription.

  30. waaahhhhhh!!!! I have a tear in my eye. It is to your coloumn I flick to every Saturday morning and have done for years now. Best wishes for the future! You will be greatly missed by so many. xx

  31. Oh dear, reading this blog entry and lovely heartfelt comments bought a lump to my throat. I'm a bit teary anyway due to recent relationship ending, not my doing, and while I know must not fear the unknown future blah blah blah but damn it, it's too much change!!! Loved your column and all your books Maggie, will look forward to your next fabulous venture.

  32. I could say lots of uplifting things like 'one door closes and another opens' but basically the whole thing sucks - The Age is MAD for letting you go. For the record, your column was thoroughly enjoyed by three generations of women in my family - my nana, my mum and I. My 3yo daughter is obsessed with shoes so I'm sure she is also an Alderson-fan-in-waiting. Please bomard us with tweets, blogs and novels! (@kateinkew)

  33. Oh Maggie! Just read the news on Girl with a Satchel. I live in Canada now (I'm Canadian) so haven't read your column in years but fondly remember it from when I lived in Sydney from 2000-2004. Oh and I have all your books too! In fact I'm pretty sure that your books played a major role in me wanting to become a magazine editor, which I did upon returning to Canada. (I was beauty ed @ ELLE here.) Even though it was fiction, you just really opened me up to the strange yet wonderful world of magazines... so for that I'll always be thankful!

    Sad to hear that your column is ending but excited to have found you on the web - hopefully I'll get to read your stuff more often now! Perhaps this whole thing is a blessing in disguise as you'll be able to reach an even broader audience now. I am constantly amazed at all the opportunities that have come my way solely through my blog, so I just know the same will happen for you! xx

  34. Hi Maggie, my column in The Age ended last week. It wasn't a must-read like yours, but a teeny-tiny thing (150 words) and only ran for 3 years. But it was YOUR column that inspired it. After reading about your adventures with Compacting in 2007, I became a Compacter. After being a Compacter for six months or so, I proposed and then started writing the column (called Revival) for the shopping page of the A2. So thank you, thank you, thank you for being my inspiration.

  35. wow! i was just googling something else to do with the age when a link to this story of you leaving the age came up. im the same as all those above, i will miss you column dearly.
    today i bought the age (as usual) and sat on my veranda with my dog in the sun with a nice cup of coffee and opened the good weekend to your column first as always. my favorite part of the weekend is the good weekend, and in particular your article. it wont really be the same now your column isnt at the back. my whole order of reading the paper / good weekend is going to be messed up!! :( maybe you should print off all these messages and send them to the age? just a thought. there are obviously a lot of people who feel the same,
    best of luck in the future maggie, thankyou for making my weekends fabulous.
    francesca x x

  36. Maggie,

    I'm sad to see your column end. Hope to read many more of your words in the future, no matter where I have to look to find them.

  37. So sad to see your column go. I have been a fan for the 12 years you have been writing it. I enjoy your novels just as much, so hopefully you keep them up.

  38. Oh no! I don't even want to tell my 82 year old Mother who is SUCH an avid follower of yours ... she even CUT out your book review for me ... oh dear am I going to break the news?!

  39. Noooo - I have been cutting out my favourite columns of yours for at least 10 years and have two books full. But it's your truisms such as "buy two of something you love" and "costs per wear" that I live by. I heard the news through a friend whose daughter had emailed her .. thankfully we can still keep in touch through your blog. The Good Weekend will be empty without you!! I even began to get the whole fashion thing!

  40. I left Fairfax just over a month ago after 5 years. The very last question I was asked in my job interview there was who was my favourite journalist in their stable. That was easy - it was you. I'm glad I have a scrapbook of your columns clipped out for future Saturday mornings.

  41. Maggie,
    So sad to hear about your column - it was the only reason why I read The Age.

    Just on Friday, my friends and I were discussing a column you wrote several years ago about your daughters love of a Disney Princess costume over the beautiful vintage dress up box that you had created. Even if your column is gone - the memories of it certainly live on!

    Have just finished "Shall we Dance". Genius as always.

    I hope that we will not have to wait too long for your column to return.

  42. Well, I for one wont be renewing my weekend paper subscription. Often I wouldn't get time to read any of it, but I always made time for your column.
    Looking forward to reading you for many more years via your blog.

  43. So sorry to hear that your column is ending, one of the first things I have read in the Good Weekend each Saturday for the last 15 years. Hope you keep posting a fix for me and what looks to be a largish amount of other fans either on your blog here, somewhere else, OR hopefully, for your sake, somewhere that remunerates well. Any chance of a book of fashion tips based on those columns any time soon? Always loved the balanced view of loving the latest fashion yet appreciating timeless style you seemed to advocate each week. Best of luck for the future. Keep your vermorel sprayer verdigris free.

  44. WHAT???? This is an outrage. I only bought the damn paper for the magazine and your column! How awful. Meanwhile I was just in London and thought of you when skulking about Primrose Hill. Loved Shall We dance too- super read. xxxx

  45. Have just been listening to you talking with Deb Cameron on ABC radio and was in tears by the end. Only found out about your departure earlier today and, being one of the oldies, will be devastated. However, I will print out your blogs and, thanks to you, am also now off to order a Kindle! Every good wish to you. KateHxx

  46. Me too. Just heard the bad news on Deb Cameron's show. Cant believe the powers that be are so stupid. You are the main reason I buy the Saturday SMH so now I wont. Glad to have found your blog as I dont think that I could survive without my weekly dose of Maggie.

  47. Very sad news. Couldn't they stop Ruth Ostrow instead! You're the only reason I buy the paper

  48. Aggghhh, so sad. You don't know the trouble I used to go to in regional Queensland to get a copy of the Herald, sometimes arriving half a week late, just for your column. Glad to hear you'll be writing more on line, it would feel like losing a good friend otherwise. Love your book reviews too. I discovered Elizabeth Taylor a couple of years ago, nice to hear someone else enjoys them too.

  49. I am so sad (and flabbergasted) that your column in GW is ending. I always looked forward to reading your pearls of wisdom with my Saturday morning coffee. Like having coffee with a good friend. You always made me smile if not laugh out loud. Onwards and upwards Maggie!

  50. What...?!

    Your column is one of the things I miss about home! Poo to all those people who say nothing will have changed when I get back to Aus.

    Bastards (shaking fist in air).

    At least I have your blog.

  51. Noooooooo - can't believe it is true! Why would they do this? I didn't even know you were back in london! it is of no matter as the wolrd is a small place isn't it? Bit your weekly column - now that is an outrage. I will keep reading your blog to have my Maggie fix. KGxx

  52. Sorry about the spelling above......KG

  53. One less reason to get the Herald on a Saturday now?

  54. Another "it's the first thing I read" comment and no other column gets read regularly.
    So wise of you to care about the new/old technology divide; my late mother knew about life,fashion and newspapers, just not computers.

  55. Maggie, Just read your last column, and as I told my husband, I shed a tear, which surprised me. I am another one of your regular readers, so will miss you in the SMH. Have now, however, added your website and blog as favourites, so thank-you for continuing your writing. Best wishes for all the new possibilities. Warmest regards, Sandra

  56. Dear Maggie, Just read your last column- I can't believe your column wont be there anymore, I really loved reading it- it was the only fashion thing I read- and it has helped me see value in not always looking like a scruffy arts student and that by embracing my own sense of style and taking some care I could age more gracefully. Reading this blog post I have tears in my eyes at the way you have touched so many people.
    The upside is that I have found your blog and will be looking forward to your new blogs, and will search for your books in second hand stores.
    best wishes for your new endeavours

  57. Dear Maggie,
    My almost four year old just asked me why I'm sad - and I said to him; 'because an old friend is off on new adventures, and I'll miss them.'

    For such a long time the one constant in my weekend has been to read your column - even when I've not had time to read another word of the paper.

    Your column has offered a weekly mini-escape - one which I've always enjoyed, often cherished and regularly learnt from! Thank you Maggie, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
    Warmest Regards

  58. Booooo to the SMH! I have so enjoyed your column - with my Saturday morning tea - for fifteen years. One of life's little pleasures... I'm relieved to hear you'll be blogging - I'll be following - write on!

  59. Say it isn't so Maggie! I have been os and only read your column today. Gutted. I have joined the chorus of emailers to the editor - is she out of her mind? You will be missed xxx

  60. Quelle horreur. I started reading your column as a teenager in a little country Victorian town. My dad would take me to buy a copy of The Age and I wouldn't get out of the car until I had read my favourite bits - namely style notes. For a girl in the country with four brothers it was a welcome slice of another world and I picked up lots of important tips from you! To this day, I love your words and it was often the only piece in the paper that I get a chance to read. I look forward to reading your words elsewhere Maggie. All the best xx

  61. Hi Maggie,

    You're gorgeous, I love your column and am really quite sad and annoyed that you're being evicted from The Age. I love your column, I think your brain works quite a bit like mine and I think you'd be a fab friend in the flesh.

    Needless to say this is probably an opportunity for someone like you, enjoy whatever comes next!


  62. Maggie,
    Been out of the loop and have spent the last few minutes trying to find your column this week. It's gone? Unbelievable. The magazine is going to pot and I would cancel my subscription if I had one. Thankfully Ive had it delivered free for the past year due to an incompetent newsagent.
    Hope you love the freedom of your next phase or should I say 'showing'
    Best wishes

  63. Thanks so much for your column Maggie, so bright and sane, a weekly reminder that there are gorgeous people in the world making beautiful things. I saw Amy Choi's comment above - I'm also devo that her fabulous column has ended; what on Earth has got into the Age? Clearly I missed the memo on how getting rid of excellent inspiring things makes for a better paper... and all this wreckage when I had just renewed my subscription... GRRR! I will just have to follow your blog, and get as many people as I can to follow suit! Or is that follow cardigan (oh, that's truly terrible)? All the best Maggie and thankyou thankyou again.

  64. Your column was the main reason I bought a Saturday herald. I'm so cross I'm going to cancel my subscription. But at least I've got your blog address now, so that's some consolation. Thank you so much for many years of enjoyment, laughter, good advice and friendship (even though we've never met!)

  65. As an Australian expat in Hong Kong, this news has just reached us here with the delivery of the paper with your last column - your column was read by all the Australian girls in our office - we all thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts, laughed and cried with you, cringed when your experiences matched ours, inspired us to follow your lead and forced us to take ourselves less seriously. Such a short sighted attitude but now we no longer need a Saturday Herald. Keep up the good work.