Old School Football Falling Behind in Science

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Apparently, England football manager Roy Hodgson is enlisting the services of Sir Dave Brailsford to help us win the World Cup if it comes down to penalties. He might even go completely nuts and get a psychologist in to work with the squad. I mean what is the guy thinking? What a ridiculous idea: embrace different voices, new messages and vaguely innovative ideas in this day and age. Honestly, football is going mad.

Sports psychology is now an integral part of a scientific approach to performance in many sports. Asking someone successful and knowledgeable to play a part in developing players’ mindset, confidence and ability to perform under pressure is a no-brainer. As a graduate in Sports and Exercise Science and a professional hockey player, I’ve had firsthand experience of a good number of these resources and there’s no doubt that at the top end of our sport, areas such as psychology, nutrition, strength and conditioning, and video technology are all integral parts of the game. I do think that to some degree, a balance needs to be struck. Good nutritional advice or innovative fitness ideas can’t in themselves enable a player to execute the perfect backhand or drag flick, but they can have some impact on helping to develop the skills that make sports beautiful and help you perform effectively.

Some bright spark wrote in to the BBC website that, “If Hodgson can’t motivate the players on his own, what’s the point of him being in charge?”. I feel like this (presumably ‘die hard’) England fan might be slightly missing the point. Hodgson’s role isn’t simply to select the players and decide on the tactics. It is to generate effective team performances, develop confidence and collectiveness. If he uses other specialists to help him do that job, then so be it. Ironically, despite its status as a global sport and the huge amounts of money and media coverage it involves, there is still a rather old school football outlook shared by many pundits and fans that, if overdone, science can spoil the ‘beautiful game’. Of course, these pundits are all too happy to use their little video screens and laser pens when they are over-analysing the game at great length. But science and technology actually being applied to performance seems to be seen as challenging the notion that the top teams are just playing a more high level version of the Sunday morning kickabout.

The rather Luddite attitudes of many people within football to sports science extends to most top-level clubs. A friend of mine who has worked at Liverpool FC and and Birmingham City describes the sports science she has seen there as poorly invested in and undermanned. “It is very old fashioned and there is no consistency. Too many players only want to know if it will increase their chances of getting paid more otherwise they won’t bother getting stronger or fitter.” When I compare the amount of money and coverage a sport with such a ‘backwards’ attitude to science has to one like hockey, it seems like a strange situation. Whilst we are fortunate to receive lottery funding which is partly allocated to our sports science support, our total annual spend on this is probably only equal to a few weeks of Wayne Rooney’s wages.

In some sports, performance itself is largely determined by science and technology. Many top sportspeople use equipment that has taken years and a mindblowing amount of financial investment to develop. Lizzie Yarnold’s gold medal winning skeleton bobsleigh cost around £100,000. That pales in comparison to Team Sky’s 2011 budget of £1.4m on bikes and performance equipment. (If you’ve ever had a look at the top-end equipment available in a specialist bike shop, you’ll see why.) Meanwhile the costs in other sports events are completely astronomical. The budgets for the America’s Cup teams in 2013 were approximately $100m.

The amount of money available does obviously have a huge impact on the amount a competitor or team can invest in sports science. Sometimes this does genuinely make success in or even access to certain sports impossible. There are certainly a few sports where the finances and technologies involved mean that it will never be a truly level playing field. In sports such as Formula 1, budgets and sponsorship are of major significance. The top six spending teams in 2013 finished as the top six in the Constructors’ Championship. Highest spenders Ferrari had a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, well over $100m of which was spent on the development of the car itself. That said, Ferrari came third behind two teams with slightly smaller budgets, so the science and engineering itself (not to mention the drivers!) also play a significant role.

Another significant impact of science is in the development of and subsequent fight against drugs in sport. Recent infamous scandals in cycling and athletics have hit these sports particularly hard. Given the likely disparity between the budgets and technologies available to each, it’s unsurprisingly difficult for anti-doping organisations to keep up with the pharamaceutical companies who are developing performance enhancing drugs. Recent stories about the lack of drugs testing of track and field athletes in Jamaica have caused uproar. The economic reasons behind Jamaica’s lack of facilities and testers are widely unaccepted by some people who regard this science as more deserving and demanding of funding than the science that pushes the world’s fastest sprinters to get even quicker. Others are just skeptical about what kind of science is making these sprinters the quickest. You could argue that this is the price we are paying for constantly wanting athletes to go faster, jump higher and get stronger. There is certainly much debate to be had in this area, but for my part I believe in clean sport and I hope that the “good scientists” beat the bad guys.

Modern day science and sport are inextricably linked. Even the ‘purest’ forms of sport, such as running, swimming and jumping (where it is a simple case of human versus human in a battle against time and resistance) are affected for most people, from the elite performer to the casual participant. If you go jogging once a week, but have spent any time thinking about the best trainers to wear or what to eat and drink to fuel your body, science is playing a part. There definitely also seems to be a widespread correlation between money and science in elite sport. This isn’t a uniform thing though: football, undoubtedly one of the most global and financially powerful sports in existence, is lagging behind. Ultimately then, however much money, technology and science go into sport, it is still driven by people. An engineer and a scientist could design the quickest, most streamlined car ever seen. But an F1 race without a driver? That wouldn’t be sport.

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If I Was a Winter Olympian…

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I’ve got Winter Olympic fever! For two weeks, the most literally and metaphorically chilled out sports on the planet get their time in the spotlight. Having spent a whopping $50 billion on hosting the Games, it’s lucky for Russia that the world is watching. But I haven’t just been spectating. I’m planning my future world domination in one of these brilliant sports. If a classical violinist can do it, why can’t I? The big question is: which sport should I choose?

Ice Hockey
This seemed like an obvious contender until I saw one of the players smile. He had a grand total of two teeth visible. That made my mind up rather quickly.

Skeleton
The British have taken their dominance of ‘sitting down sports’ to a new level. We now have back to back Winter Olympic champions whilst lying on our fronts. 2010 winner Amy Williams clearly has a talent for directions when travelling at speed – since retiring from skeleton, she has been recruited as a rally co-driver. I like a theme park and definitely don’t regard myself as a wuss, but my main admiration for her is related to the fact I would be far too scared to hurtle headfirst, at well over 100mph, down a track made of ice. On a tray.

Luge
See above, but think feet first. So you can’t even see a wall you’re about to crash into. Brilliant.

Snowboard Slopestyle
This is a new event at the 2014 Winter Olympics and attracted attention before the Games had even started. Two-time Winter Olympic champion and multiple X-Games winner Shaun White pulled out of the Sochi event on the grounds that the course was “too dangerous”. If a guy known as “The Flying Tomato” who has made his fortune and fame on a snowboard is worried about this, I would be worried too. In addition, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even make it down to the jumping section but would faceplant, or worse, straddle, the rail section at the top. Ouchie.

Ski Cross
This is my favourite winter event to watch. It looks a bit like Wacky Racers on snow, complete with comedy crashes. Four skiers race down a course filled with jumps, bumps and bends, and all hell invariably breaks loose. As a spectator, I usually end up getting very overexcited and shouting, “Come on the red one” as part of a £1 sweepstake. It’s all terribly exciting. A ‘source’ tells me that ski cross is for failed downhill skiers. It is also renowned for destroying cruciate ligaments quicker than you can say ‘snap’. Despite that, I think it’s brilliant and I would love to try it. It’s a definite front runner for my chosen Winter Olympic event.

Curling
I just don’t think I’m cut out for curling. Firstly, as household chores go, I’m not that good at sweeping. I am excellent at tidying, sorting books and DVDs into alphabetical order, and cleaning the kitchen. But I’m not particularly capable with a broom. Additionally, whenever the British weather is cold enough for the pavement to ice over, I can only walk with baby steps on tiptoe and so I wouldn’t be able to make it down the rink without keeling over. It’s all a bit too slow for me. I want hills and action and snow!

Ski Jump
My prowess on the Nintendo Wii ski jump game suggests that if I took up the sport professionally, I would almost immediately become a world record holder. I’ve also proven my ability under severe pressure during competitions at home. With serious forfeits such as having to wash up being on the line, things can get pretty intense. If it wasn’t for the requirement to wear a very tight Lycra suit, I would almost definitely have won a gold medal at ski jumping in Sochi if I could have been bothered to travel all the way there.

Speed Skating
Having spent some time living in Holland, I’m quite aware of how popular skating is there. Every time the canals and polders freeze, the Dutch excitedly dust off their skates ready to hit the ice. A few half-hearted attempts to get me to join in have failed miserably. How are you supposed to stop without colliding with a wall and hanging on for dear life?! Another thing that puts me off is the training. A few speed skaters did some weights sessions in the gym at Loughborough University when I used to train there. They would sometimes do 100 single leg squats in one set. Bearing in mind I’m more designed for power than endurance, I’m not really a fan of any set of more than about three repetitions. I think it’s clear speed skating wouldn’t be my event.

Figure Skating
I can’t even dance on solid ground. The chances of being able to do so on ice skates whilst sliding across a slippery surface are slim.

Biathlon
If you ask me, skis were invented for going downhill. If you want to travel across a flat snowy environment, hire some huskies and a sledge, and enjoy the scenery without getting out of breath. The cross country skiing sometimes even requires competitors to ski uphill. Haven’t they heard of chairlifts?! I am also (currently) incapable of handling a firearm, which would make it tricky to hit targets.

New for 2018?
I’ve come up with a couple of ideas for the organisers of future Winter Olympics. I had thought about team snowball fights, but I became a bit worried about the Cold War II breaking out (sorry, that was a weak effort). If I could make them real events, I would be keen for tobogganing and snowman-building to be included in the Winter Olympics. I feel like I would be offering something to adrenaline junkies and arts and crafts fans alike. Perhaps we could take a leaf out of the biathlon book and combine the events. How quickly can you slow your heart rate down after a supersonic toboggan race and successfully affix a carrot to your snowman’s face? Speed points for the toboggan section, style points for the snowman section. This idea may need further development…

Having thought about it, I’m not sure I’m quite as ready for domination of the world of winter sports as I had hoped. As much as anything else, I’m just not sure I’m anywhere near cool enough to be a pro snowboarder, brave enough to slide down a track made of ice, or self-assured enough to go on the telly dressed in head-to-toe Lycra. What I do know is that I have huge respect for the attitude, courage, skills and general awesomeness of these athletes. Stay cool Sochi!

Sporting Superstitions: Luck or Control?

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We spend hours on the training field, in the gym and trying to get all the physical, nutritional and psychological details right for our performance on game day. Despite all that, a few of the GB girls have some big superstitions which must be stuck to all costs. It seems that if some people don’t wear the correct shirt number, sit in the exact same place in the changing room or put their right shinpad in before their left, we will definitely have absolutely no chance of winning! I don’t see myself as being particularly superstitious (and in fact actively avoid having a a strict routine before a match) but when asking the girls about their own superstitions I realised I do a few of these strange things too. I draw the line somewhere: I wouldn’t force a team mate to have the same hairstyle for a game during a winning streak (this has been enforced in a tournament before!), but if anyone takes my established seat in the changing room…well, trouble is on its way.

Superstition is defined as, “A widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck, or a practice based on such a belief” (oxforddictionaries.com). Are you superstitious? Would you feel the need to throw salt over your shoulder (at the devil) if you spilt some? Would it stress you out to see somebody put shoes on a table or open an umbrella indoors? Even if you can bring yourself to walk over three drains or see a magpie without saluting it, I reckon most people will cross their fingers if they are hoping for good luck, or touch wood if they don’t want to “jinx” something. The recession is apparently making us think about reeling in our spending, but flights can be up to a third cheaper on Friday 13th and the price of a house at Number 13 can be 4% lower than other properties, because demand is so much lower for anything involving such an unlucky number. As mentioned, superstitions are ‘irrational beliefs’, but all of those described above come from various religious, mythological, pagan and even economic origins. They may not make sense to us now, but there is often a meaningful historical reason behind them. (Incidentally, I still wouldn’t recommend walking under a ladder purely from a health and safety perspective.)

Superstition is a big part of some sportspeople’s routines. You could watch Rafael Nadal at one changeover in a tennis match to figure out pretty quickly that the guy either has some kind of OCD or some major superstitious tendencies. I’m sure his forehand would be just as devastating regardless of whether he had correctly placed his water bottle by the tramlines, but maybe there’s more to it than this. Routine is the key word. One of the phrases commonly bandied about in elite sport is, “Control the controllables.” For many sports people, superstitions are little actions that can help make the situation feel more normal and manageable, regardless of the pressure or the score. Routine can help you feel comfortable and in control, whether you’re on the verge of winning Wimbledon or playing in a Sunday League game.

As sport often comes down to fine margins, a stroke of luck here and there really can affect an outcome. An unfortunate own goal, a freak injury, the weather, an untimely slip… you could play a great game and still lose 1-0. Some studies have suggested that superstitions can improve performance and self-confidence even though the two things don’t have a logical link. This is where Rafa’s bottle placement comes in: it may not actually improve the execution of his forehand, but it may improve his sense of control and self-confidence in his forehand ability. Of course, whether or not our superstitions have any genuine impact on the chances of rain or whether you slip over just as you’re about to score the winning goal is doubtful, but in terms of being an important part of routine and confidence, I’m sure they can have an effect.

Our training, preparation and mindset all have a massive bearing on how things turn out in the end, but there’s no doubt that fortune can still play its part. That’s part of the fun of sport. If it was always the better, more prepared competitor that won, where would we find the drama and the excitement? We love an underdog because we love the idea that on any given day, anyone can win. I strongly doubt that never watching a penalty stroke taken in any game I’m involved in has any impact on the outcome… but I doubt I’ll stop doing it anytime soon.

GB Women’s Hockey Team on Tour – Part II

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It’s not exactly a glamorous start to the day. The first thing we do on waking up is pee in a little plastic pot. Depending on your level of morning alertness, this can be a tough early test of coordination. We then deliver our urine sample to the Physio who has the delightful job of assessing our levels of hydration. We also weigh ourselves each morning as an added indication of hydration status. There’s usually some pretty special looking outfits and hairstyles at this point in the day too. I dread to think what other hotel guests think on their way to breakfast as they pass an unkempt, pyjama’d hockey girl carrying a pot of wee down the corridor.

Mealtimes on tour can be a bit of a box ticking exercise. Sufficient protein and carbohydrate intake are particularly essential to fuelling our training and recovery, so breakfast tends to involve foods like eggs, yogurt and porridge. I always end up eating much more fresh fruit on tours than I do at home. It’s amazing how much easier it seems when someone has peeled and cut it up for me. Anyone who is interested in volunteering for this job once we are home please get in touch.

We then embark on some ‘mindfulness’ meditation and some further physical testing to monitor our recovery and wellbeing. On this trip it has involved jump testing and running up and down a car park wearing heart rate monitors – further odd sights for other hotel guests.

We have a squad of 32 here in San Diego, so on match days the rest of the day depends on whether or not you are playing. Those not taking part in the game do a hockey session down at the field before staying around to support the team. This is definitely a preferable option to a running session! It’s never much fun sitting on the sidelines, but this is very much a squad effort and there’s lots you can learn from watching as well as playing. The girls on the pitch all wear GPS units to track the distances we cover and speeds we run at, which helps the coaches to gauge the intensity of our play. In the two unofficial games we have played so far (both against the USA) we have had a couple of losses. As the effects of jet lag wear off and we start to get more used to playing with each other we certainly hope to chalk up some better performances and results.

The remainder of the day is taken up with recovery, more food and meetings. We aren’t ice bathing here as the trip is part of a larger cycle of training, so we don’t want to negate the training effects of running around. I’m not complaining! A thorough warm down, protein shakes, fruit and rehydration are all essential immediately after the game. Pre and post-match weighing helps us calculate how much additional fluid is required for individuals to rehydrate. It has been known for some players to lose up to 3kg through sweat during a game. You definitely can’t say we don’t work hard! We leave detailed performance analysis until later on so that the coaches can use video to help reinforce tactical and technical messages from the game.

We haven’t had much time here for relaxing and seeing the city but there are usually a mixture of other activities going on in our down time. TV series, movies, books and a dip in the hotel pool are all essential distractions to give yourself a bit of mental and physical time out.

There have been rumours of a team ‘Valentines Day lucky dip’ being organised so a compulsory trip to the mall will happen at some point. With a number of pranksters in the team, these ideas usually result in a lot of innuendo and laughter. The results of the lucky dip may therefore have to be censored! As much as we can become a better team from what we do on the pitch, often the real bonding is done away from it. This is one of our biggest objectives for this tour and could have a massive impact on our success going forward.

By bedtime we are ready to crash out and get some well earned rest ready for another day of challenges. A good night’s sleep also means I’m more likely to wake up fresh and have more coordination for the dreaded pee pot!

GB Women’s Hockey Team on Tour in San Diego – Part I

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I’ve just arrived in San Diego, California, for a two week training trip with the GB Women’s Hockey team. As well as lots of hockey and gym-based sessions, we will also play a number of both official and unofficial matches against the USA and New Zealand teams at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. I will try to give a bit of a flavour of what it’s like being on tour in my subsequent entries, but to begin with I am actually going to stay away from the hockey pitch.

We don’t always have much time to explore the places we visit on training tours and at tournaments, but I’ve actually been fortunate enough to visit this part of the world before (in December 2011 as part of our preparations for the Olympics in London), so things are a little more familiar than usual. The last time we were here, a team mate and I went on a guided bike tour in downtown San Diego during an afternoon off. We were obviously far too tired to actually cycle ourselves, so sat in a trailer while Holmes the bike man did all the hard work. He seemed like a nice guy and told us some good stories about the place, although as it turned out I got totally duped by my favourite one! So I have decided to find out some real facts about the place, although I should say that I am partly relying on my good friend Google to be feeding me trustworthy information here…

The story I referred to above is about the San Diego Padres, the local baseball team. According to our tour guide, a home run was hit out of the park and landed in the carriage of a freight train bound for San Francisco. The ball then travelled over 500 miles to its destination, making it the ‘longest home run’ in history. ‘What a great story,’ I thought, and spent the next week looking for a San Diego Padres t-shirt as I pledged myself to be a fan. Countless fruitless Google searches later, I’ve decided it’s definitely not true and I feel a bit foolish that I was taken in so easily. What I did learn is that the San Diego sports teams supposedly suffer from a curse, as none have ever claimed a modern North American major league professional sports championship. Perhaps this even extends to USA teams competing here, as this was where the Great Britain tennis team secured a Davis Cup victory over the US team for the first time since 1935 last weekend. There are a few famous sporting faces from these parts. Five-time golf major winner Phil Mickelson, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, and Winter Olympic champion snowboarder Shaun White are all from San Diego. Slightly more obscurely, Irish rugby’s record point scorer Ronan O’Gara was also born here.

Hollywood stars Cameron Diaz, Robert Duvall and Adam Brody also hail from San Diego. Lots of blockbuster movies have been set here too. It’s fair to say a range of genres are covered! ‘Top Gun’, ‘Anchorman’, ‘Paranormal Activity’, ‘Traffic’ and ‘Jurassic Park: The Lost World’ are all based in or around the city. As well as some cruder references (if you’ve seen the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about!), Will Ferrell’s anchorman character always signs off from his news shows with the brilliant line, “Stay classy San Diego”.

Tenuous link here, but speaking of ‘traffic’, there’s a few interesting facts about transport in and out of the city. San Diego’s airport is the busiest one-runway airport in the USA and second in the world behind our very own London Gatwick. The most visually striking piece of road is the Coronado Bridge, a two mile structure that curves out of San Diego city over to Coronado Island. The first person to drive over the bridge upon its opening in 1969 was Ronald Reagan. It may be spectacular, but it also has the unfortunate tag of being the third deadliest suicide bridge in the USA.

Coronado itself is the site of a large naval amphibious base, one of only two in the USA. Around 5000 military personnel are housed on site, including the famous US Navy SEALs (the acronym refers to their capacity to work at sea, in air, and on land). The SEALs have also had a major impact on the film industry and popular literature, providing characters in films such as G.I. Joe, the Tom Clancy novels and ‘Captain Phillips’. ‘SEAL Team Six’ was apparently responsible for the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011 as part of Operation Neptune Spear.

There is a unique colony of harbour seals on San Diego’s Casa Beach. Captive seals can also be seen at the famous San Diego zoo, one of the major local tourist attractions. The zoo houses over 650 species from a wide range of habitats and will celebrate its centenary year in 2016. It has been the most successful American zoo in panda breeding programmes, with four of the six cubs born here having been sent back to China to participate in breeding programmes there. The first ever YouTube video, ‘Me at the zoo’, was filmed in San Diego Zoo and uploaded in 2005 by the site’s co-creator.

It’s always nice to have a sense of any place you travel to and it’s clear to me that there is a lot going on in San Diego. Hopefully we might have a chance to explore away from the hockey pitch! Stay classy San Diego….

No, I do not think it is “OK”! A rant about celebrity magazines.

Magazines on a stand in a newsagents. Image shot 09/2009. Exact date unknown.

Every now and then, I do have a serious problem with a serious topic. If you’re looking for something lighthearted, maybe wait for my next entry, or search for “funny cats” on YouTube.

I dislike women’s magazines in general but that’s largely down to a disinterest in and lack of ability at fashion, hairstyling and make up (see “Why I’m Rubbish at Being a Girl”). I’m genuinely not passing judgment on anyone who is interested in those topics. I have blithely used the phrase “brain pollution” to describe my feelings on this type of publication but I know it’s really rather unfair of me and I should without a doubt stop judging people for liking things that I don’t.

The issue that worries me here is celebrity magazines, with page upon page devoted to captioned photographs telling us how we should “see” these people. Their primary focus seems to be to highlight, comment on and generally criticise the shape, size, weight and looks of high profile men and women. Most of the comments tend towards consolidating widespread social beliefs about the perfect figure and what we are apparently supposed to aspire to look like. I’m not stating anything new here, but this has a potentially massive impact on social and psychological issues like body image, eating disorders and bullying. ‘Lads mags’ (which I do think are a genuine waste of paper) are often vilified for objectifying and demeaning women. Unfortunately I think a lot of the content in the magazines mainly marketed to young women effectively serves the same purpose in that it places so much emphasis and attention on appearances and superficial characteristics which ultimately have very little, if any, bearing on our value as people. I’m oversimplifying things, but if you’re prepared to look at a picture of a celebrity on a beach and pass comment about his or her weight or appearance, is this any better than buying a copy of “Nuts” magazine and staring at half-naked women?

In sport, it is a well-known fact that there is a huge gender bias in terms of media coverage. It is estimated that women’s sport receives only about 5% of total sports media coverage. Even in the last few months, highly successful sportswomen such as Olympic gold medalist Becky Addlington and Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli have been the victims of highly publicised instances of what is essentially sexist abuse in the media. Very recently, there was a disturbing incident involving Beth Tweddle, the multi-Olympian British gymnast. Sky Sports ran a well-intentioned Twitter Q&A session with Tweddle, which descended into a disgusting farce… a large number of the questions sent in were simple vulgar inferences about her appearance and personality. Essentially this is a high profile example of the same thing as I’ve been talking about. Tweddle was being judged on factors that had absolutely no bearing on or relevance to her brilliant achievements as an athlete or as a person. The social media aspect is similar in a way to reading a magazine and passing comment. You can hide behind the fact that you’re not saying these things to somebody’s face. This particular instance was probably worse because, well, put yourself in Beth Tweddle’s shoes in this scenario. But if we say it about someone famous in a magazine, we aren’t really doing something a world away from it.

There are also undoubtedly many other very significant factors that contribute to the psychosocial issues I referred to earlier. There are many other areas of the media and society at large that contribute to imbalanced and biased perspectives on other people, whether or not we know them. I realise it’s human nature to analyse, to judge, to communicate these feelings to others. I know that an awful lot of the things we analyse, judge and talk about are ultimately irrelevant. I also know that to some degree I’m being hypocritical here; I myself undoubtedly pass judgments and comment on people, when watching TV or even sometimes in real life. Ultimately though, I believe in the little changes that we can make. In my opinion, this issue being reinforced in magazines genuinely contributes to some big problems in society and this really is something we can try to stop. By not buying these magazines, by doing my best to avoid discussing whether so-and-so has lost/gained weight or looks ugly/terrible/worse than ever, I feel like it’s a tiny little bit less of a problem in the world. I have similar feelings about recycling and not leaving the tap running when I brush my teeth. It all helps a tiny bit, and if we all help a tiny bit…

I know I’ve gone into some contentious areas here. You may disagree with me or have a monthly subscription to one of these magazines. You may think I need to stop taking it so seriously and that we will probably never meet celebrities X, Y and Z anyway, so it doesn’t really matter whether we spend two minutes slagging off their ‘awful choice of swimwear’, or whatever it is. It’s probably bad that I’ve written this without actually reading (ha, loose term I would imagine) one of these magazines as part of my research. Essentially I am judging a magazine by what I am 99.9% sure is under the cover (based on what I can actually see on the cover). However, in case you haven’t guessed by now, I have no desire to waste my time or money on these publications. Hopefully, you may feel strongly enough not to either.

Thanks for sticking with me. I’m off to make a cup of tea, calm myself down and think of something trivial and fun to write about next time.