I bloody loved The Modern Review. Its glory days coincided with my first few years living in London and as such it defines the early 90s for me more than fax machines, shoegaze or Amanda de Cadenet. Having gone through three years of the English literary canon, the idea of applying chin-stroking critical techniques to the guttersnipes of pop culture felt deliciously transgressive. And, yes, I miss it (although maybe there’s a distinct element of still being the right side of 30 that I miss) and on more than one occasion, I’ve yearned for its return, despite the subsequent political missteps of its co-creators, Julie Burchill and Toby Young.
Be so, so careful what you wish for. Burchill crashed and burned in 1997 with a glossy reboot that lasted a mere five issues; and now Young, who has in the intervening decades recast himself as a champion of free schools and lockdown scepticism, is having a crack at it, promising something rather more serious. Ms Burchill, always skilled at repurposing sour grapes as a conscious career move, claims to be pretty happy with that state of affairs.
Will I buy a copy? Oh, probably. Will I be disappointed? Certainly. But just as the original version reflected my own faith in words and art and subversion back at me, the new one will do the same with my middle-aged dyspepsia. It will be just the magazine we deserve.