I assume, if you are reading this in print, that you are a fan of Saturday papers. This Saturday paper in particular. To paraphrase Brian Clough, I’m not saying the Guardian is the best, but it’s definitely in the top one.
Amid lowering circulations, Saturday remains the most popular day of the week for readers to pop to the shops and get toner all over their hands during breakfast. (Weekday commuters increasingly bury their heads on social media or apps to get their fix.) Despite the fact that much of the UK press is on the verge of becoming stenography – not mentioning any names, but hello to the Telegraph – I still enjoy reading a broad spectrum, spreading the different titles and supplements across the table, like William S Burroughs and his cut-up collages. The Telegraph does still have great arts pages; the FT’s weekend edition is a fat joy; the Times has interesting features.
The weekends, our break from scrolling through the week’s quagmire, are meant for folding back pages, for supplements sliding out of centrefolds, and failing at sudokus. If it is a sunny day, and you are reading outside, the heat makes the paper give off an earthy, relaxing scent. Reading the papers is about sitting under trees, the simultaneous rustle of leaves and pages. Or baked bean juice spilling from a greasy-spoon plate on to the margins. Or the celebrity interview earned after a run and a shower.
On Saturday, I will read all about sports that I don’t understand the point of (or the point systems of). I will dive into travel supplements even if I cannot afford to go away – and especially not to places where penguins are found on beaches. Because it is the act of reading itself that is the pleasure of Saturday papers – not the urgent need for news to be imparted.
It is taking the time to run the eye over photo essays and to read a startling review of a book that may turn out to be more fulfilling than the book itself. If not your life, then I’m talking about measuring out your day in coffee spoons – and colour profiles. Sometimes it’s the cheeky high of nicking a battered copy from the pub and reading it on the way home.
I even like to get the international papers: the New York Times, the Washington Post. Queen-bed-sized broadsheets that block out the morning light when held open, allowing your partner to snooze a little longer. Print’s demise is much discussed, an industry on edge. But I can’t imagine Saturdays that don’t leave the recycling bin bulging. And neither, I’d guess, can you.