herald

Thursday 24 April 2014

I now own Dublin

I did an unusual thing last week — I bought something. The Dubliner magazine to be precise. Not, I hasten to add, a copy of The Dubliner, along with a pack of Dunhill Lights and a walnut whip.

No, I bought the business, the whole shebang, which now sits proudly as part of my ‘magazine empire’. It strikes me that only power-crazy dictators and magazine publishers are described as having ‘empires’ — maybe I’ll come back to that some day.

The Dubliner is a magazine I've long admired. Launched nine years ago, shortly after VIP, it has a compact but loyal readership, and a reputation for top-class writing. Sure, it has featured the occasional 10-page yawn-fest about Aosdána, but now that I own the business, I can replace that with pictures of Twink.

Four years ago, I attempted to launch a rival to the The Dubliner -- a weekly magazine called Capital, rather like a Dublin version of Time Out. Good name, s**t mag. Unable to find either interesting enough content or sufficient advertisers to cover the bills, I closed it after six months. I felt that I wanted to publish something that reflected this city and, because of the stage of life that I found myself in at the time, I felt the need to create it from scratch. I should, in hindsight, have simply made an offer to buy out The Dubliner, but I couldn't, because I'm a classic cad.

C.A.D. Create, Acquire, Dispose. The three stage of adult man. From 20 to 40, we seek to create. We write original material, compose music, start our first serious relationship with someone who is doing likewise, and invent stuff. I came up with the idea for a lemon slicer to be used in pubs, saving them all the hours they spend cutting up those little segments to go into your G&T. As Dragon's Den wasn't around in the 80s, I let the idea slide.

The problem being that it's now too late, as I'm in the 40-60 age bracket. So now I'm into the 'acquiring' phase. It doesn't bother me any more whether what I'm doing is original, as I don't need that primal, creative buzz. I'm happy buying things other people have created.

I looked at buying a second-hand home for the first time last week and I've started considering the prospect of women who've been previously married, as I'm no longer obsessed about being the first love of their life, but more concerned about finding something that will last. And I did something I thought I'd never do -- I took over someone else's magazine, which they spent nine years of their life building up from a blank sheet of paper.

And when I pass 60, I'll probably want to dispose. I'll want a smaller house, give away the clothes I haven't worn in 35 years, divest myself of a spare car, and my wife will probably leave me. And I'll be faced with the question of whether I want to sell my business, trouser the cash, blow it on temporary, disposable delights, and leave what's left of it to the next generation. After my ex-wife has taken her share.

Trevor White, former owner of The Dubliner, bucked the trend. He disposed of his life's work last week, while still in his 30s. Then again, he was never a total cad. Unlike me.

Michael O'Doherty is the publisher of the VIP magazine group

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