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BOOKENDS: The Diary of a Lady

On the evidence of Rachel Johnson’s latest book (Penguin/ Fig Tree, £16.99), Julia Budworth, the owner of The Lady, was wrong in her recent accusation that the magazine’s editor is obsessed with penises. Johnson is far too busy talking about testicles. She tells her immediate boss (Mrs Budworth’s son Ben) to ‘grow a pair of balls’. She admits later that he has ‘cojones you can see from space’. She calls one article ‘cobblers’.

16 October 2010

10:00 AM

16 October 2010

10:00 AM

On the evidence of Rachel Johnson’s latest book (Penguin/ Fig Tree, £16.99), Julia Budworth, the owner of The Lady, was wrong in her recent accusation that the magazine’s editor is obsessed with penises. Johnson is far too busy talking about testicles. She tells her immediate boss (Mrs Budworth’s son Ben) to ‘grow a pair of balls’. She admits later that he has ‘cojones you can see from space’. She calls one article ‘cobblers’.

On the evidence of Rachel Johnson’s latest book (Penguin/ Fig Tree, £16.99), Julia Budworth, the owner of The Lady, was wrong in her recent accusation that the magazine’s editor is obsessed with penises. Johnson is far too busy talking about testicles. She tells her immediate boss (Mrs Budworth’s son Ben) to ‘grow a pair of balls’. She admits later that he has ‘cojones you can see from space’. She calls one article ‘cobblers’.


It was precisely this frankness that caused the magazine to hire her in the first place, aiming to increase circulation with a jump into the 21st century (some might say the 20th would be a start), but Mrs B retains doubts. ‘The editor’s decision is final,’ says Johnson at one point. ‘Not on The Lady it’s not!’ comes the reply.  

Like the bestselling novelist she is, Johnson extracts maximum yarn-value from every episode in this account of her tenure to date. We see Joan Collins refusing to be filmed eating, the editor of Vanity Fair being snubbed by one of the magazine’s old guard (‘I quite see why you would want to come and see us. But why would we want to see you?’), and the surreality of modern media life: ‘Alain de Botton is following me on Twitter.’ Add in Johnson’s skill as a phrase-turner (David Blaine stares ‘like a spaniel on Night Nurse’), some interesting analysis of what a modern female readership
expects and endearing doses of humility, and you have a saga that entertains all the way through. Soup to nuts.


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