Day 18 – Media

19 02 2010


Today it rained. Cold, dreary drops of rain guided by some malign meteorological GPS to reach the back of your neck and leave your trouser bottoms soaked for the day.

Logic would dictate you spend as little time as possible outside on a day like today but I took a trudge down to Oxford Street. On a pleasant day, waiting at the twelve sets of traffic lights is frustrating. Today it was grim. You also raise the ire of every poor bugger behind you who wants to get past.

Them: The traffic’s stopped mate, go on

Me: Sorry, I need to wait for the green man

Them: Cunt

London is a cheery place sometimes.

As I go through this project I’m keeping a notebook. Leafing back through it there’s a topic I keep writing down but haven’t talked about yet. The media. Before I started I had a pretty terrifying impression of what I would and wouldn’t be allowed to do. I’d heard of several things I thought were government regulations or recommendations that seemed farcical and many I thought would contradict each other.

In truth, loads of what we think is a government regulation actually comes from the media. There’s obviously some kind of link but it’s pretty rare that the official line corresponds with what’s been published. Oily fish is a good example. The Daily Mail cited a study saying that we should be eating three portions of oily fish a week. That got adopted into the popular consciousness and nearly everyone I discussed it with would recite that back to me as government advice. (It’s actually minimum one portion of oily fish a week, maximum of four and care with any advised if you’re a woman who wants to conceive.) I think it’s fascinating how quickly these myths build up and get traction. I do sympathise with civil servants to some degree. They aren’t just setting guidelines or information, they often have to dispel the myths first.

Far from encouraging something, as in the case of the oily fish, The Mail often seems to be at the vanguard of complaining about rules and regulations. I love the way they use the word ‘now’ in their headlines. Now parents banned from… Now asylum seekers getting… Now Daily Mail readers missing out on… It gives such a great sense of the continuous assault Mail readers must feel they are under. Maybe in the future these sort of articles will come with a welling classical score in the background and images of Churchill and white sporting heroes drifting gently in and out of focus in a sidebar.

I’m nearly at the end of my third week under the rules and it is getting tougher to find new ones. I’ve got a couple of ideas of where to look, one of which I think could be a pandora’s box so I’m saving it. If you can think of anything please drop me a line in the comments below.


Weight: 13st 11lb

Body fat 18.8%

Frustration 3

Infractions 9.5 (I would love to finish under ten – I wonder if I can make it)

Wellbeing 8

No new rules today




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