On 1st July, 105 years ago, a new magazine came out in France – Nos Loisirs. It cost ten centimes and described itself as ‘journal-revue illustré de 32 pages’. What’s more, it claimed ‘pas une ligne, pas une gravure qui ne soit pas intéressante’ – there wouldn’t be a single line or drawing that wasn’t interesting. And is that true?
First up was a letter from the editor agreeing that readers were probably saying that there were enough magazines out there already. But this one was ‘différent’ and truly ‘populaire’ – for the people. Each week there would be new writing from well-known authors, discussions of current affairs and social problems, advice to young people, competitions, humour – everything!
This issue has a long illustrated story – The Extraordinary Adventure of M. Poulot, and then a detailed discussion of the new-fangled phonograph. Charmion, the ‘chien cambrioleur’ (burglar dog) has a column about him, and this includes one of eight photos in the journal. The other is of Séverine, whose page comes next, and she talks about women and their right to vote. She concludes by quoting a friend who says astutely: ‘Until women become voters, my dear, the men in parliament won’t do anyhing for them.’ They had to wait until 1944.
There are two more stories. Then a cartoon. “Where is St Stephen?” teacher asks a pupil, standing next to a large map of France. “In Heaven, Madam,” the child replies.
A piece of piano music takes up the centrefold. ‘Sous le Fautaies’ it’s called (In the forest of tall trees) and is in the fiendish key with four flats, whatever that is. I’ve forgotten a lot about music, which is shameful since I played the violin for years!
There’s a flyer for the novel Zezia by Paul Dumas, and then some short tips on things to talk about in conversation. One of these little nuggets is the fact that ice floes floating south from the North Polar ice will take two centuries to melt. They reckoned with global warming, obviously. Other conversation starters are the snippets that trees that grow on the south side of a hill are tougher than ones that grow on the north, and that 1.7 million children in Russia have no education. Another story, a hotel review (The St Regis Hotel in New York) and an article on home improvement – specifically how to organise your boudoir. Then there’s a competition to match silhouettes to photos, fashion advice and adverts.
All in all, quite a variety of subject matter, and I’d probably have been tempted to buy the next issue. I haven’t been able to determine how long the magazine was published for, but I’ve found copies online from 1909 so it ran for several years at least.
I love these old magazines!