No 13 – lucky for Doctor Who

Even for a show that heavily revolves around change, Doctor Who really pushed the boat out for the latest series. Rewind 50 years, and back in the 60’s the sci-fi show changed the face (quite literally) of TV by introducing the concept of regeneration, essentially allowing the titular character to plausibly change his face. At the time it was simply to prolong the show following William Hartnell’s decision to leave due to deteriorating health, but it has since become a cornerstone of the show.

Since the show’s inception we have seen 13 regenerations, and 14 Doctors, including the often forgotten about John Hurt. The previous 13 were all white men, so the decision to cast Jodie Whittaker was met with a disappointing but unfortunately expected uproar from a section of the fandom. How could a show with a flying police box, time travel, aliens, and regeneration possibly cast a female in the lead role?! Add to that a new writer, new companions, new titles, new theme, no returning characters, and no Christmas special, there were critics-a-plenty ready to pounce.

Despite some uproar from fans over casting decisions, the series premiere had the highest viewing figures for the show since the 2013 Christmas special, and on average the series was the most viewed since David Tennant’s last year in the role. However, regardless of these figures, the general consensus seems to be that the series was a little underwhelming. Something I agree with.

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My 2018 Highlights

Another year is over, and rather than reviewing what has been a rather quiet year I’m just going to share some of my favourite things from the past 12 months.

Things I’ve Watched
Sick of It – Karl Pilkington was back on TV, and his new one (or I should say two) man show was an absolute triumph.
A Very English Scandal – Hugh Grant takes posh to a whole new level in what was a very charming and thrilling drama from Russell T Davies.
House of Cards UK – I finally got around to watching the UK version of House of Cards, and it’s far better than the US version. I highly recommend.
Black Mirror – I finally gave Black Mirror a go in January and it didn’t disappoint. Although dystopia isn’t such a getaway from today’s world, it’s right up my street.

Things I’ve Read 
I really have not read enough this year. Must do better in 2019.
How Not to Be A Boy – Robert Webb’s book looks at the rules of being a man and tears them up. A very good, and easy read.
All Out War – A much more challenging read, as you’d expect 600 pages on Brexit to be. Tim Shipman knocks it out of the park, and I’m excited to now move onto the next instalment – Fall Out.

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Concessions of a Millenial

Despite what everyone – older people – would have you believe, it’s tough being a young person in today’s world. In spite of the constant protestations of boomers that we’ve never had it better, the evidence is to the contrary. Sure, we’ve grown up around social media, the internet, increased globalisation and mobility, and we’re more connected to each other than ever before, but in so many ways we are much more disconnected and worse off than previous generations. Where past generations could seemingly have it all, we are faced with choices and concessions.

When it comes to working, competition is fierce, and job security is more uncertain is ever due to the rise of zero hour contracts and servicing jobs. We may get a bad reputation in the workplace, but the reality is that we often work long hours and have to compromise or sacrifice other areas of our lives to get ahead in the workplace. Comet, a financial intelligence business surveyed a group of young people to identify just how high their work is prioritised, and the results are stark.

41% of the respondents said they would end a relationship to get a big break or promotion at work, and for a life-changing promotion the average surveyed millennial said they would stay single for 11 years, delay marriage for 7 years and wait to have kids for 8 years. However, the same survey found that millennials are willing to make job sacrifices for a long-term relationship too, but the key theme is these choices are now a part of our lives.

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Fear of Missing Out

As you log onto social media on a Friday evening you might see a fun-filled timeline. Someone might have got engaged, a lot of people have probably uploaded pictures from pre-drinks, and you might have seen that your best mate got that big promotion they wanted earlier today. What did you do? It never seems to quite compare to everyone else’s day, does it?

I think we all have that innate fear of missing out or FOMO, but some of us feel it more strongly than others. It’s the idea that people are living life better than you, experiencing things you cannot, and seeing people you couldn’t possibly meet. Nearly three-quarters of young adults say they experience this sensation, and there’s no doubting that we’re the first generation to be so highly affected. Mainly this is due to the rise of social media, and the greater insight we get into everyone’s lives.

It’s certainly not fun. It causes a vicious cycle, where despite feeling as though you’re worse off you continue to check social media again and again as to not feel out the loop. You start to check it when you wake up, before you go to bed, whilst eating your meals, in the bathroom, basically any piece of free time that you have. The problem is that this then often leads you to miss out on various other experiences because of this constant need to keep on top of things.

71% admit to making excuses to get out of social events despite feeling as though they miss out, over a third experience stress and anxiety when they do go out, and 30% feel disappointed afterwards. This can then lead the individual to believe they’re not quite doing it right, that everyone else but them has it down to a tee. But it’s okay because that epic moment is just around the corner, you’re an idiot for staying home and you’re missing out, and the process starts again.

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Mental Health in the Classroom

Earlier this week was Suicide Awareness Day, a time where many talk the talk regarding helping others, speaking up, and raising awareness. Unfortunately, there clearly isn’t enough walking the walk. To understand why the mental health crisis has exacerbated, we must look to the start. A child’s schooling years are the time that can define their whole life, so surely, it’s the time to act. If physical education lessons are compulsory, why isn’t mental health?

I have never, in over 20 years of teaching, seen pupils suffer with so much anxiety and other symptoms of poor mental health”, just the words of one teacher in a recent article from Sally Weale. Mental health issues among teenagers are rising rapidly. It’s estimated that 3 children in each classroom have a diagnosable mental health problem, and the NSPCC says that the number of referrals by schools seeking treatment for pupils has risen by a third in the past three years alone. We’re also seeing alarming rises in youngsters hurting themselves – a 70% increase among 10-14-year-olds in Britain – and 1 in 4 are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

So, what is fuelling this dramatic rise? Firstly, it’s worth noting the reasons are plentiful, and I can hardly do them all justice in a blog post, but let’s look at the main few. One overarching theme is the austerity imposed by Tory governments. Between 2010 and 2015 mental health trusts in England had £600 million slashed from their budgets, there are now 5,000 fewer mental health nurses available, and as such waiting times have doubled in the last decade. Schools have also had their purse strings tightened, with 91% facing real-terms cuts which have even led to parents at various schools being asked to donate money towards vital supplies such as stationary, books, and even toilet paper.

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Minnesota’s Moment

The offseason in the NFL is incredibly long by any sport’s standards, but this year felt somewhat remarkably so. It was just 6 months or so ago that Philadelphia shocked the world to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy, but it feels an age away. When the action returns in under 2 weeks, the field is as open as it has been for quite some time. The Eagles have shown that few teams can be discounted, and many of the recent dominant franchises showed signs of decline. Below are my predictions for each of the divisions, as well as where the value likes at the bookies.

We’ll start in the NFC East, in the division of my Giants. Last year the Eagles were outsiders in this division alone, but the SuperBowl champions comfortably topped the group. The core group still remain, but tiredness might be an issue due to their shorter offseason, and the questions remains as to whether Carson Wentz will be able to replicate his remarkable stats from last season. Now, can any of the other three franchises mount a challenge?

The Cowboys are always in with a shout, especially with Elliott in the backfield, but the playoffs look too steep for their team this year. Washington look too weak across the board, so it might well be that the Giants are the closest challengers. Despite their poor season last year, the Giants have an impressive team on paper and with a new head coach can look to a fresh start. I do think the Eagles will take the division again, but there is value in the Giants to take it at 5/1.

Last year the NFC South saw three teams book their way into the playoffs, and again the division looks tough to call. The Falcons suffered from post SuperBowl tiredness (something the Eagles will hope to avoid), but should be a bigger force this season. The Saints had the strongest backfield in the league last year with Ingram and Kamara, but questions still remain on the defence, and sooner or later they will need to deal with the fact that Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger.

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The Premier League Stats Here

This weekend sees the return of the Premier League; although it doesn’t really seem like football ever went away. To get us in the mood, here are some of my favourite stats and trends from last season, and I analyse what they might mean heading into the new season. I also give you my predictions, which knowing my luck will probably look terrible by the time May comes around.

Arsenal away off the big boys
Yes, there will be some puns here. Arsenal at the Emirates last season were formidable. They won 17 of 19, collecting 53 points (level with Manchester City), and scored 54 goals. Away from home was a very different story. When leaving the comforts of their local library Arsenal won just 4 of 19 games, collected a meagre 16 points, scored just 20 goals, and conceded 31. If Arsenal can sort out their away form, maybe they can find their way back into the top four.

Bournemouth need an alarm clock
Maybe the Bournemouth players need more Weetabix before games, because they sure take their time to find their groove. The Cherries only scored 18% of their goals in the first 30 minutes of a game – 8% lower than the PL average, and 56% in the final 30 – 16% higher than the PL average! On the other side of the ball, they concede evenly throughout the game, so they often find themselves behind. They scored the first goal in just 34% of games last year and won 24 points from losing positions. If Bournemouth could start games as well as they finish them, they could be dangerous.

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