Friday, 28 February 2014

Hat’s all folks…

Today is a sad day, because after many happy years, I am hanging up my Sorted hat. And what a lovely hat it has been.

I got involved with the magazine by ‘cappy accident’ back in 2008. I was working alongside a wonderful office manager called Bekah (now editor of sister magazine Liberti) at the time. 

Bekah had met and fallen in love with well-known entertainer Steve Legg (who, incidentally, had paid a very memorable visit to the church I attended as a child).

Never one to miss an opportunity, it was during a hat-wearing opportunity (their wedding) that Steve mentioned Sorted to me, and I was instantly intrigued. I started off writing the odd bit of copy, and before I knew it I was deputy editor (following a brief stint as sports editor, which has since been taken over by the far more qualified Stuart Weir).

There have been so many highlights for me at Sorted, not least of all my ‘hobble up the cobbles’ on the set of Coronation Street with Andrew Lancel, hilarious interviews with comedians Tim Vine, Milton Jones and Andy Kind, and – to cap it all – a heart-stopping interview with Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell (read this in full in the latest issue).

We’ve covered a range of subjects from pornography and domestic violence to man bras, online dating and toilet roll positioning, and I’ve learnt a lot (some details are best kept under my hat!). I’ve been proud to be part of a magazine that champions men’s issues in a sensitive way without needing to dumb down or plaster the pages with boobs.

And it’s been thrilling to see the magazine progress and prosper. The latest Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figures show that while sales of lads’ mags are generally in decline, magazines such as Sorted and Men’s Health are holding their own and even gaining ground. This suggests that men are moving away from the babes and taking a step towards the more wholesome and inspiring magazines. Hurrah!

It’s been a privilege to edit the copy of some really great writers. And even though I haven’t met many of our contributors, I feel like I’ve come to know them pretty well just by reading their insights and adding the odd comma and apostrophe along the way. From finance to fitness to faith, the content has been both informative and refreshing. Oh, and I mustn’t forget to tip my hat to designer Andy Ashdown, who is as patient as he is creative. He has been a real pleasure to work with.

The team at Sorted has grown and blossomed since I came on board and it’s been a real privilege to be part of it. I take my hat off to Steve and Bekah. The vision they have for the magazines (and for life in general) is really contagious and I know that this is only the beginning.

Although sad to be moving on, I’m glad to be passing the baton to talented journalist Stacey Hailes. I am confident that she’ll love the job as much as I have and will see the magazine rise to even higher heights.

Please keep reading and supporting Sorted and Liberti. Although I’ll be wearing a different hat (or maybe even a hotchpotch of hats) from now on, I will continue to promote both magazines, and I hope you’ll do the same. If you’re not yet a subscriber, that would be a great first step…

Oh, and if you want to keep in touch or you’re looking for a writer/editor, contact me on, visit my website, Joy of Editing, or follow me on Twitter @joyous25.

And hat’s a wrap.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Is the UK a nation of lovers or cheapskates?

According to research from, many couples will ditch the flowers and chocolates this Valentine’s Day in favour of discounted jewellery and bargain lingerie.

Its figures show that more than 19,000 ‘romantic’ guys will spoil their lady loves with a personalised, triple ring necklace for £15, while almost 2,000 will present their significant others with a Swarovski crystal heart necklace for £14 on February 14. 

More than 4,000 men will hand over the exact same box of lingerie to their partners, for the sum of £19. And nearly 35,000 Brits have entered a Groupon competition to win the services of a Mariachi band in a bid to serenade (or embarrass) their special ladies.

Jason Grima, co-founder of, says: “A saving of up to 80% off is a no-brainer, even if it’s not particularly romantic to go for a bargain gift. But I’m sure most people would rather their other halves didn’t pay through the nose for something they bought last minute on the high street.”

According to a study from Sainsbury’s Bank Credit Cards, attitudes towards Valentine’s Day are changing. It claims that 38% of couples are planning less conventional dates for Valentine’s Day year, such as salsa dancing, wine tasting, cocktail making, spa visits, sushi making or outdoor sports. 

Other less traditional date ideas include watching live sports, visiting a museum or gallery, attending a music concert or going ice skating.

Simon Ranson, head of banking at Sainsbury's Bank, comments: “It is interesting to see such a wide range of both traditional and unconventional ways that couples and singletons will mark Valentine’s Day.

“Whatever you choose to do, if you are using a credit card to buy gifts or the ingredients for a special night in, ensure you take advantage of any rewards or benefits you may be entitled to, as saving loyalty points for example, could all add up and go towards another special treat.”

Another romance-based study from AA reveals that 3% of us have proposed or been proposed to in a car and nearly 40% of us have either prepared the ground or chickened out of proposing during a romantic drive. 
David Bruce, director of AA Cars, the AA’s new online car sales platform, advises: “For those looking for an intimate atmosphere and not wanting to run the risk of a public rejection in a restaurant, proposing in a car is a safer bet.

"It may avoid the unnerving scenario of another Valentine’s Day suitor two tables away getting a resounding ‘no’ just before you get the chance to pop the question!”

Finally, Halifax Home Insurance is urging those who are planning to invest in jewellery this Valentine’s Day to make sure it is covered, both inside the home and when you’re out and about.

Despite 35% of people claiming that their engagement ring is their most valued possession, 23% do not have any home contents insurance, and 15% have no cover in place for items lost or stolen outside the home.

Head of underwriting for Halifax Home Insurance, David Rochester says: “When planning a surprise proposal or romantic gesture, insuring a valuable gift is probably not the first thing people think of, so we are reminding people to ensure any new expensive jewellery is insured both inside and outside the home.”

Did you know?
  • The most popular ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day include cooking a special meal at home (46%) and visiting a restaurant (43%). Approximately 27% of couples will ‘go Dutch’ and split the bill
  • The average spend per person for Valentine’s Day celebrations is £53, with men budgeting £62 and women expecting to spend £45
  • Approximately 19% of single people have Valentine’s Day plans, with 23% enjoying a meal with friends and 21% treating themselves to a cosy night in with a nice meal and a film
What are you planning to do this Valentine’s Day? We’d love to hear about your plans in the comments below. Or perhaps you’re a little bah humbug about the ‘most romantic’ day of the year – we’d love to hear from you, too.

If you are stuck for gift ideas, a subscription to Liberti magazine is perfect for that special lady in your life. If you’re looking for an idea for your man, a subscription to Sorted is just the job. These magazines also work as a great treat for yourself if you’re shunning February 14 this year.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Reaching the highest heights

Many of you already know that Sorted editor Steve Legg is about to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. 

If all is going to plan, he should be on the plane right now, no doubt thinking about the mammoth task ahead of him (or sleeping with his mouth open like the rest of us). 

One thing I’ve learned from working about Steve is that he is very determined and that he doesn’t shout about his achievements, so I’m going to take this opportunity to do just that.

Not only is Steve a great husband to Bekah and a devoted father to six kids, he is a long-term Compassion supporter and ambassador. I know that he and Bekah sponsor four children and that Steve has visited at least one of them, demonstrating that he isn’t just putting his name to a charity or throwing money at it; he really cares.

Sorted and Liberti are now sponsoring a leadership development student, enabling young Kenyan woman Sylvia to attend university. “It's not just about enabling her to reach her full potential, although that would be reason enough, but she is committed to using her education to help others in her community and beyond,” explains Liberti editor Bekah. Steve will be spending some time in Kenya while he is in Africa and will meet Sylvia while he is there.

And it is children and young people like these that have inspired the Kilimanjaro climb. I know Steve plays badminton regularly, but I’m pretty sure he isn’t doing it for the exercise. Nevertheless, he has trained tirelessly so that he is in the best shape possible to get to the top. Despite the wet weather, he’s been out there exercising with the dog every day.

In his own words, Steve is climbing the Tanzanian mountain to “raise the profile of Compassion and see more children released from poverty”. He is dedicated to protecting his own and other children from the many dangers, difficulties and temptations out there.

In fact, this was one of the reasons why he set up Sorted magazine. He wanted his teenage son to be able to buy a lads’ mag that wasn’t just full of boobs, bums and ‘babes’. He wanted his son and other young men to recognise that women are human beings and that their value is not in the way they look. (Check out this great blog from Nate Pyle for more on this.) And he wanted his daughters to know that not all men objectify women and that they are precious regardless of the way they look (they’re all stunning anyway, so that’s never been an issue!).

Sorted is a great magazine, if I do say so myself, and with a print run of 40,000, its circulation has overtaken that of competitors such as Loaded. And it seems the public is responding positively to this shift. Supermarkets like The Co-operative have taken steps to stop saucy lads’ mags covers being on show on its shelves, while campaigns like Child Eyes and No More Page 3 are gathering momentum and have had a great impact over the last year or so.

So why am I telling you all this? Well firstly Steve is out of the country so he can’t stop me giving credit where it’s due! But I also want you to support him in a tangible way. Perhaps you can do one or more of the following:
  1. Pray. If you’re the praying type, pray for Steve while he’s away that he will be safe and that altitude sickness won’t stop him from getting to the top. And if you’re not the praying type, now’s a great time to start!
  2. Encourage him. I’m not sure how much internet access he’ll get while he’s there, but Steve loves his gadgets so I’m sure he’ll find a way of reading your posts and messages if you send them. It would be great for him to know that we’re thinking of him and supporting him (even if it’s from the comfort of our sofas!).
  3. Sponsor him. At the time of writing, Steve has raised £2616.25, which is tremendous. But this is still a little shy of his £3,500 target. It’s not just a case of him reaching the target though, it’s about supporting Compassion and the fantastic work the charity does.
  4. Sponsor a child. If you don’t already sponsor a child, this is a great thing to do. You could change a child’s current situation and entire future by doing so, as well as becoming involved in that child’s life and being able to help and encourage him or her. Compassion helps children in 26 countries and needs all the support you can give. To sponsor a child with Compassion, visit or call 01932 836490.
  5. Subscribe to Sorted. Steve has established an excellent magazine and doesn’t even take a salary from it, despite the time and effort that goes into it. He sends free copies to people in the armed forces, prisons and plenty of other places. And this magazine provides a valuable alternative to the typical lads’ mags out there. Slowly but surely people are moving away from the seedier magazines and Sorted has a part to play here. If you’re already a subscriber, spread the word! Visit your local WH Smith and make sure it’s on display. If not, ask if they will consider stocking it. The more people that ask the better.
Thanks for all your support!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

What does it mean to be a man?

A friend of mine is pumping iron at the gym as I write this blog. He’s got it into his head that he needs to muscle up for the ladies. 

When I said that not all girls (myself included) are big on muscles, he replied that while they might not think they like them physically, every member of the ‘fairer sex’ equates muscles with protective masculinity, and what woman doesn’t want to be protected?

I didn’t know how to respond to this as, while patronising, there may be an element of truth in it. So while he was building biceps, I lifted my heavy laptop onto my lap and researched what it is to be a man in 2014. I have to say it made for very interesting reading.

According to Theo Marz at The Telegraph, men are becoming more feminine in their habits and hobbies. Knitting, for example, is gaining popularity among men. Marz writes:

Gerrard Allt had been smoking for around 20 years and was getting through a packet of cigarettes a day when a housemate introduced him to knitting. “It gave me something else to do with my hands,” says the softly-spoken Scouser, now in his 40s. “Before that I’d tried quitting, but I was going cold turkey and just wanted to eat all the time. Knitting calmed me down…”

“…It’s a question of how you see yourself, and how confident you feel in your masculinity. My masculinity can handle a bit of knitting – and I’m sure plenty of other guys’ can too.”

Next I saw an article featured in my least favourite tabloid, but on this occasion I couldn’t resist taking a peak. It was about a new Japanese range of silky, lacy underwear for men. Made by Wish Room, the range features feminine men’s bras and panties. And no, this is not an early April Fool’s joke.

According to the executive director Akiko Okunomiya: “More and more men are becoming interested in bras. Since we launched the men's bra, we've been getting feedback from customers saying, ‘Wow, we'd been waiting for this for such a long time’.”

Australian brand Homme Mystere is also getting in on the action. Its range of lacy thongs, camisoles and padded bras (marketed under names such as Moulin Rouge and Jungle Fever) have met with high demand.

Once I had stopped giggling like a teenager (apologies if you are into the undies), I stumbled upon a thought-provoking article in The Huffington Post. Entitled: “Real Men Talk About Their Feelings - For Real”, Josh Rivedal explains that: “Men are willing to talk about the size of their prostate glands, or how much Viagra they're allowed to take, but they're still not willing to be open about their mental health.

“If men want to live long, healthy and productive lives it's absolutely crucial that the dialogue surrounding men's mental health has to change.”

Men’s reluctance to talk about their problems and hurts can lead to a range of problems and even premature death, with male suicide rates far exceeding those of females. Having considered suicide himself, Rivedal understands the dilemma so many men face.
However, he reassuring writes: “As a man who has suffered from clinical depression, I can say from personal experience that this is not a character flaw or a weakness. It doesn't make you any less of a man.

“In fact, by asking for help it makes you a stronger man. It gives you a fighting chance to improve your life and become the person you want to be. Reach out to your family and friends and ask for help. Nip it in the bud before it can turn into a crisis.”

I came to the conclusion that being a man is a very complex state of affairs. Should men be watching Downton Abbey in their frilly thongs, knitting needles raised, or watching the match with their mates, pint in hand? Should men be the strong, protective type or the kind that aren’t afraid to admit defeat, talk about their feelings and seek help? (I would certainly recommend the latter.)

It seems there is a lot of pressure on men to be all things to all people: the breadwinner, the brawn, the gentle lover, the comedian, the father, the mate. And everyone has their own ideas about what it means to be a man.

The Bible contains plenty of examples of manhood, good and bad. Apart from Jesus, every one of these men was flawed. Some liked a drop too much of the amber nectar, others stole, lied and killed. Still others liked to wear silky drawers… Ok, that’s not in there, but you never know.

The Bible is a great place to start if you want to know what real men are like, because it describes the journeys of ordinary men who made mistakes and overcame them, and of one extraordinary man who made no mistakes but paid for all of ours.

If you aren’t quite ready for the Bible yet, Sorted magazine is another place to read about men who are exploring the concept of masculinity as they journey through life themselves. We don’t have a knitting column (yet), but we discuss all things male, from business to politics to sex. Our hope is that it challenges and inspires you as well as providing quality entertainment and making you laugh.

Click here to buy your copy of Sorted magazine today.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

What’s new for you in 2014?

On Boxing Day I received an email about getting fit in the New Year. I immediately put down my huge turkey and stuffing sandwich and deleted the message before it got to me and stopped me enjoying the last few days of overindulgence. At least wait until after New Year’s Eve to make me ‘lose the mince pies’, I thought to myself.

But with Christmas well and truly over, it seems toning up and saving up are the nation’s top priorities for 2014. According to, around half of us will try to get fit, eat more healthily or lose weight this year, while a third of us will endeavour to sort out our finances.

Other priorities include:

·         Taking up a new sport or hobby (27%)
·         Spending more time with family/friends (26%)
·         Finding a new job (25%)
·         Reducing or quitting smoking (22%)
·         Cutting down on or cutting out alcohol (17%)

Claire Peate,’s customer insight manager, said: “For many of us, a new year represents a fresh start; a time to think about things we want to achieve or behaviour we want to change. But despite beginning the year with good intentions, our survey suggests that most people fail to keep their resolutions.”

I guess that’s not what you really want to hear if you’ve made grand plans to set the world (or at least your world) to rights this year. But while you think about what you want to give up or take up, it’s worth thinking about how you’re going to see your resolutions through this year.

Who are you going to hang around with more and what books are you going to read to get inspiration and keep you focused? What can you stop doing that will make it easier to avoid temptation in a few weeks’ time?

Whatever your aims are for 2014, the key is to prepare well and to start now. And if you do have any relapses, don’t give up! Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again. Statistics show that the more times you try, the more likely you are to eventually succeed.

We’d love to hear what your New Year’s resolutions are in the comments below. And if you are planning on making some changes, Sorted may be able to help. We are currently working on our March-April edition and it’s packed full of useful tips on fitness, finance and a wide range of other issues.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!   

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The good guys and their gadgets

 Guest blog from Sorted editor Steve Legg

We all know men love gadgets and technology. Whether it’s mobile phones, gaming devices, music systems, sports gear, cars or other electronic equipment, we share a special relationship with gadgets.

We often use gadgets to impress each other with the tiniest video camera, the most expensive, function-laden watch, or the fastest computer. Arm wrestling, bike racing and drinking competitions are no longer the main ways of proving our masculinity; it's these gadgets that do the trick these days. They’re the new way to show off wealth, taste and knowledge. We just can’t help it, it’s in our genes.

I inherited it straight from my dad, who had every conceivable gadget, although he didn’t always get it right. Classic gadget disasters back in the ’70s included a Sony Betamax video and later a Laserdisc player. Don’t tell anyone, but years later I bought an Amstrad E-m@iler. How embarrassing.

Anyway, I digress. Back in the here and now, a team of Dutch lads known as Terre des Hommes Netherlands are using their technological gifts and knowhow to make a real difference; not with faster, stronger or smaller gizmos, but to rescue vulnerable children across the world. It’s gadgetry at its best.

Terre des Hommes Netherlands chose to do something about a rapidly spreading form of high-tech child exploitation that has tens of thousands of victims in the Philippines alone involved: webcam child sex tourism.

Predators from around the world have, until now, felt safe and anonymous. Using fake names and paying with untraceable prepaid credit cards, men from rich countries go online to look for children in developing countries and then pay these children to perform sexual acts in front of webcams. It’s the darkest side of men and their gadgets.

However, the Netherlands-based child rights organisation is using technology to shine light into this darkness. It has gone undercover to expose this growing group of sexual predators.

With innovative, cutting-edge technology that would make any gadget geek weep, the virtual character Sweetie was created. This computer model was made piece by piece to look and sound like a real girl. They captured the movements of a real person, applied them to her and used an application to control her every move.

Within weeks of going online, more than 20,000 predators from around the world had approached the virtual ten-year-old requesting webcam sex performances. But this time their supposed anonymity couldn’t protect them.

With the help of this virtual ten-year-old Filipino girl, researchers identified more than 1,000 adults in 65 countries. The video footage of the child predators has been handed over to police authorities around the world.

I love it. I love a good news story about the internet and hearing that the good guys have gained an advantage. And I love to hear that men are taking a stand against sexual exploitation and using their ‘toys’ to protect children whose childhoods have been taken away. 

Read more from Steve in Sorted magazine - click here to buy your copy (or copies) today.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The most wonderful time of the year?

I absolutely love the excitement that surrounds Christmas: decorating the tree, carols by candlelight, wrapping presents, the cheesy movies; the whole shebang. 

I love picking out Christmassy foods at the supermarket while bopping along to the classic tunes that can just about be heard over the general hubbub of people filling their trolleys with mince pies and mulled wine.

But sometimes we can get so caught up in the trimmings of Christmas, we forget about the important things. First, the reason that we celebrate Christmas in the first place: to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Second, that we are called to care for those that are less fortunate than us, a message that was close to Jesus’ heart.

So this week’s news that hunger in the UK – the seventh-richest country in the world – has reached public health emergency levels is a complete disgrace! An estimated 60,000 will be without food over Christmas this year! 

How are people going to bed hungry right under our noses? How are elderly people dying because they cannot afford to heat their homes? And how are families finding themselves without homes at all?

Now I realise that these problems exist all year round, not just at Christmas, but at this time of year we should be doing more, not less, to help those in need. Nobody should be without food, heat or shelter this Christmas!

So what can we do to help?
  • Find out where your nearest food bank is and take advantage of two-for-one offers when you’re next at the supermarket. You may not have tons of money to give away, but there are ways to give without bankrupting yourself.
  • Sign Jack Monroe’s petition calling for parliamentary debate on hunger in the UK. Did you know that 350,000 people received three-day emergency food rations from food banks between April and September this year alone?
  • Give sensitively. Maybe you have a neighbour, colleague or friend who is struggling to make ends meet. Find a way to help without being patronising. Perhaps you could take round a Christmas hamper, or better still, invite someone to share Christmas at your home. Maybe an elderly person you know will be spending a lonely Christmas at a residential care home or hospital this year. A half-hour visit could make all the difference.

The Bible speaks a great deal on this subject. Deuteronomy 15:7-11 tells us not to harden our hearts against our “poor brother”, while Leviticus 25:35 and Isaiah 58:6-7 go a step further, suggesting that the poor brother/homeless person is taken into our homes and supported.

Proverbs speaks extensively about meeting others’ needs and being generous to the poor (and the blessing that comes with it):
  • Proverbs 19:17: “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”
  • Proverbs 22:9: “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.”
  • Proverbs 14:21: “Whoever despises his neighbour is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.”

Jesus himself spoke extensively on the subject, for example in Luke 3:11: “And he answered them, ‘Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.’"

These verses are summed up nicely in 1 John 3:17-18: “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

So let’s remember those in need this Christmas, and throughout 2014.

Finally, if you’re already doing all this and want to address the spiritual needs of those around you, why not use Christmas as an opportunity to invite a friend to church or to a carol service?

Or why not give them a gift that introduces them to the Christian faith? Yup, you’ve guessed it! Sorted and sister magazine Liberti make excellent Christmas presents for people of all faiths and of no faith. You can buy a gift subscription for one special person or a bumper box to distribute among friends and strangers alike.

Finally, check out this clip from The Piano Guys to get you in the Christmas mood. It’ll blow you away.