Young Woman Holding Magazine
Young Woman Holding Magazine

I collided with the woman as we both headed for the shop door. ‘Sorry!’ I apologised. ‘Sorry!’ she said at the same time. She was in a hurry, she was on a mission, we both were. I knew she was a fellow gossip-hunter as we both clutched armfuls of women’s magazines.

I was positively gagging to get home, make a cup of tea, open my Maltesers and find out about Coleen Nolan’s secret life as a mistress and why actress Linda Robson might get arrested, as the front cover of one magazine claimed.

All of the publications I had purchased contained mostly unflattering pictures of female celebrities looking harassed or pulling grimaces on their front covers. Alongside the unbecoming images screamed shock headlines like; ‘Zoë’s Hell – Races home to husband’.

This conjures up the idea that Zoë Ball had been enduring something so bad that she was forced to return home from the Strictly Come Dancing live tour that she’d been hosting. The reality behind the headline was that she took a five hour trip home out of her schedule to visit with her husband and children. The ‘hell’ described was an assumption by the magazine’s headline writer of how the trip might have felt for Zoë because of its length!

As for Coleen Nolan’s secret life as a mistress, the explanation for the juicy front cover headline was merely that her husband had been away from home for some weeks. Coleen claimed that the break put a spark back into her marriage. She went on to say that when they did finally see each other it would feel as exciting as being his secret mistress! As for Linda Robson’s imminent arrest, she buried her pet dog near her father’s grave years ago and jokingly voiced hopes that after publicly admitting this fact she wouldn’t be arrested.

My shoulders slumped in disappointment. I had been ready for a muck-fest of salacious celebrity gossip and it turned out to be nothing more than some cleverly crafted headlines manufactured to entice the reader to buy. Every week I fall for it!

I collect armfuls of magazines in the newsagent in the hope of reading, frankly, some dirt! Yes I admit it. When I see those unflattering shots of glamorous celebs looking stressed, with a banner underneath screaming they have problems, another side of me emerges. It’s a side that reminds me of the women who used to knit sitting by the guillotine.

Shamefully, part of me rather enjoys reading gossip about celebrities’ troubles, but I won’t be too hard on myself because I’m not alone. Studies have recently revealed that hearing juicy gossip about famous people has the same effect on the pleasure centre of the brain as eating a delicious meal or winning the lottery!

Researchers scanned the brains of volunteers as gossip about stars having affairs or involved in other scandalous behaviour, was read to them. The scans indicated that the volunteers found these rumours highly amusing. However, it is only the juicy bad stuff that really delights us and not tales of a celebrity’s tireless charitable work or how wonderful a parent they might be that give us a pleasurable rush. It’s the dirt on celeb’s disasters that we really want dished up.

The theory behind this is that famous people are usually envied, so if they are caught in a compromising position or have a fall from grace it’s likely to make us feel rather chuffed. Also, here’s the science bit; boffins think this satisfaction in famous person’s troubles might be traced back to our ancient roots.

Even though our universe has advanced amazingly since our ancestor’s days, we are still walking around with a caveman brain. It could be because we know so much about celebs’ lives these days that we feel that we know them well. The caveman brain is tricked into thinking that they are part of our group and therefore in direct competition with us, even though we don’t know them from Adam!

When a star’s life hits the skids it can make us feel like we are witnessing the downfall of one of our more successful rivals within our own tribe. It’s the equivalent of watching the best looking female in the group being carried off by a sabre-toothed tiger; your primal brain perks up, perhaps thinking it leaves you in with a chance of attracting hunky dinosaur-bashing Alpha male’s attention.

Many magazines know we can’t resist the promise of a bit of juicy gossip. Even if the publications don’t always deliver the story I thought I was getting, I still continue to buy them, just in case I miss the downfall of a rival tribe member.

I blame my inner Wilma Flintstone!