Thursday, 25 April 2013

Are you a manly man or a Motorsexual marvel?

When I’m not working on Sorted magazine, I can often be found putting together news stories for financial firms. As I foraged for inspiration this week, I found three stories that grabbed my attention.

Although finance-focused, these snippets challenged some of the stereotypes we have of ‘manly’ men in the UK. I think they’ll grab yours too – particularly if you carry a manbag, own a bottle of fake tan or hate DIY.

Motorsexual Men risk lives behind the wheel

While attractive women, beautiful views and Facebook can prove distracting for some male drivers, recent research suggests a new danger is on the horizon for men behind the wheel.

Obsessing over a hairdo, applying fake tan and posing are the most common causes of near-crashes among ‘Motorsexual Men’.

According to the More Than research, vanity-obsessed male motorists have caused an estimated 2.2 million accidents on the roads in the last 12 months. On average, a vanity-related crash results in £653.20 damage to the Motorsexual Man's car.

Whether styling their hair (23%), inspecting their complexion (19%), pouting and posing (15%) or checking the brightness of their pearly whites (10%), the rear view mirror is a hazard zone for male drivers.

Furthermore, an estimated 1.3 million Motorsexual Men regularly apply facial moisturiser, fake tan and even male foundation when in control of a moving vehicle.

Around 2.9 million male drivers check out their reflections between five and ten times in the space of a single 30-minute car journey. With roughly 4.8 seconds taken up each time they do so, male motorists could be spending up to 48 seconds with their eyes fixed on themselves rather than the road.

Matt Pernet at More Than commented: "We've heard a number of cautionary tales of women trying to apply make-up when driving, but until now men fawning over their own appearance behind the wheel was an unexplored area.

“This research shows that Motorsexual Men are significant in their numbers and are putting their safety and the safety of others at risk by valuing the importance of their own reflection over that of the road ahead."

What do you keep in your manbag?

Almost two-thirds of men carry a ‘manbag’ at least some of the time, and because men are four times more likely than women to carry expensive iPads, tablets and laptops in their bags, the precious manbag could be putting men at risk of theft.

Around 18% of men listed a tablet or laptop as their most valuable item as opposed to just 4% of women, but the high value does not stop them from carrying these items around in the beloved manbag.

Meanwhile, the Nationwide research suggests not all of the lost or stolen possessions were of significant material value. Unusual items stolen from people's bags include: a flag from the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, an anorak, a blood donor card, hearing aids and a wetsuit. Items highlighted as most valuable by those surveyed included a kitten, a harmonica, secateurs and the manbag or handbag itself.

Martyn Dyson, Nationwide's head of general insurance, said: "People very often are unaware of how much valuable property they carry with them, especially given the increasing popularity of expensive smartphones, tablets and laptops.”

Home improvements or household headaches?

New research suggests very few men actually enjoy doing DIY. However, while less than 25% find it a pleasurable experience, around 75% say they would rather do it themselves than pay a professional tradesperson.

Around 6% say they would try to install their own boiler or double glazing to save money.

The Checkatrade survey showed that, on average, men in the UK plan to spend just over £4,000 on DIY over the next 12 months, and the most likely DIY project to be undertaken is redecorating. Interestingly, men in Sheffield are almost six times more likely to redecorate than those in Southampton.

If money were no object, a quarter of men would opt for a new bathroom or kitchen, although almost 50% believe an extension would add more value to their home.

Checkatrade managing director, Kevin Byrne, warns: “DIY is a tempting option, especially with the country in recession and bank holidays approaching. But be careful not to take on a job that really demands a skilled professional, otherwise it could cost more in the long run.”

Are you a Motorsexual man? Or do you consider yourself the absolute definition of masculinity? Feel free to share your stories/experiences in the comments below. And if you do carry a manbag, make sure it's got a copy of Sorted in it!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A ‘poor’ excuse

Guest blog by Tim Childs

We have seen in the last few months that the present coalition government has initiated cuts of all kinds, often to the detriment of the poorest and even the most vulnerable in society, and astonishingly at the same time introduced a tax break for millionaires who, if we’re honest, really don’t need any more.  

If you’re a Christian, what is the position you are supposed to take on these matters?  What if you are someone who is suffering as a result of these ideological cuts?  Should we accept what the ‘powers-that-be’ do and say, or should we challenge what we perceive to be injustice?  

These are tough questions, and who really has the answers anyway?  Have we gone too far in providing welfare, and has it become a lifestyle choice rather than a safety net? Is it only a problem when it’s poor, disabled and working class people who receive it, and not a problem when royals and peers in the House of Lords receive all kinds of benefits, subsidies and perks? Where do you stand on this?

As a Christian, and as someone who myself comes from a poor background, my view is that we should all be very careful how we judge other people, especially when those people are seen to be a problem in the way the poor and unemployed have recently been portrayed.  

If we’re honest, Jesus had more time for the ordinary people than He did for the great and the good; or for that matter, the particularly religious. 

Some Christian denominations have recently criticised the government for its attacks on the poor and also for the rhetoric and cruelty that often goes along with such attacks; certainly for its old trick of setting one group against another: in this case the working against those not working.  

Are these alarm bells to warn Christians that something isn’t right, or what exactly?  Is British society basically fair but occasionally unjust, or is it badly out of kilter?  

I believe that we live in a fallen world, and often even the supposedly ‘best’ societies reflect that fallen status; people are fallen and make mistakes and can even be downright evil. Systems are fallen and can be abused; democracy itself, although a very good idea in principle and sometimes even in practice, can be ignored and abused.  

No human or human system is ever going to be perfect. But what happens when people wilfully and even cruelly attack others, making them scapegoats for problems that the scapegoated didn’t create?

I have believed for a while that some of what passes for Christianity in Britain is more of a social religion than real Christianity; more about being a glorified social club for those who think they are better than everybody else, rather than a life-affirming, life-transforming and ultimately personal relationship with our Creator.  

I don’t say this lightly, and I don’t say it is the case with all Christians, but I think many use their faith as a mask of respectability or hide behind it to control and ruthlessly exploit other people, sometimes even in the name of religion.  

This is not the reason Jesus came to earth, nor is it Christianity as it should be practised. There is religion and the world ‘out there’ and there is an ‘inner reality’, the truth we hold in our hearts and the relationship we have – or should at least be working on – with Jesus.  

If a person is truly a Christian, and not using religion for their own ends or selfish agenda, sooner or later we will know them simply by what they do, as opposed to what they might say. It is up to us, then, as simple Christians who merely want to serve the Lord each day with a whole heart, to understand that sometimes our faith can be used by the ‘great and the good’ for their own purposes. Often these purposes have nothing to do with Christianity and nothing at all to do with God.

Click here to read more blog entries by Tim Childs.

What does the car you drive say about you?

I’m writing a book about driving at the moment, and was intrigued when I stumbled upon a press release that claimed a person’s name could have a direct bearing on the type of car they drive.

The research from shows that while Stephen Fry famously drives around in a black taxi and Jess Ennis was handed the keys to a brand new Jaguar following her success in the Olympics, people named Stephen are most likely to drive a Land Rover, while Jessicas are most to likely drive Ferraris.

Prince William and Kate Middleton thrilled crowds around Buckingham Palace on their wedding day when they went for a spin in a blue Aston Martin belonging to Prince Charles. However, drivers named William are most likely to get behind the wheel of a Ferrari, while Kates prefer the elegance of a Maserati. Elizabeths are most likely to drive a Suzuki, while drivers called Charles are most likely to drive a Mazda.

Meanwhile, celebrity magazines claim Justin Bieber and Harry Styles share a penchant for fast cars. The analysis shows men named Justin are most likely to drive Porsches; not worlds apart from Justin Bieber's real choice of motor, a Fisker Karmer. However, while Harry Styles has recently been seen driving a white Ford Capri he bought on eBay, most UK Harrys prefer the Bentley.

Damiens and Vincents are most likely to drive a Porsche, while Jades and Garys have the greatest affinity with Ford brands. Moving off-road, Bruces and Donalds are more likely to own Jeeps, while Nigels and Rogers prefer Land Rovers.

Those who topped the charts for souped-up Subaru drivers were called Shane, Dale and Carly, while those most likely to drive Skodas are named Norman, Roland and Valerie. The names most commonly associated with Jaguars are Bernard, Malcolm, Audrey and Janet, while those named Jeremy are most likely to drive an Aston Martin; taking after Top Gear’s Mr Clarkson himself!

Do you share one of these names, and if so, do you follow the trend? Or is it all a load of nonsense?

Maybe it’s actually your social outlook that affects the car you drive: the size of your wallet, your age or the number of children you have. Or maybe you want to give people a certain impression in the car that you drive. (You can find out what your car says about you by taking this very scientific, test.)

When we look at a car, we instantly make certain judgements: taking in age, colour and whether it’s in good nick. We also do this with other humans; we can’t help it. It’s the way we process information about people. But this can also be dangerous, because people often leap to the wrong conclusions.

Some people drive great big fancy cars/wear expensive designer gear, but maybe inside they are insecure, depressed and hurting. Others drive battered wagons/wear Tesco clothes but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are inadequate/unworthy. 

While certain vehicles seem to attract certain types of behaviour (what comes to mind when someone says “Audi driver”, for example?), there is always more to a person than what they look like or what car they drive.

The make or model of car you drive does not define who you are as a person. But what you do, say and think when you’re behind the wheel does. Do you revert to type when you’re driving? Do you behave in a way you wouldn’t if you weren’t encapsulated within a metal shell?

Would you drive the way you do if God was in the passenger seat (He is, by the way, seeing as He’s omnipresent and all that)? If so, you auto know better!

Read more from Joy in the next issue of Sorted magazine.