21 December 2023
Well, it's that time of year isn't it...?
In all my years on this planet I think I can recall just one white Christmas – white Christmas meaning snow on Christmas Day and visible from the window of my home. Mind you I did live in Australia for 18 years where the chances of a white Christmas are, as you’d imagine, extremely slim – not just because it’s Australia but because 25 December falls in the early summer Down Under.
It did happen though, kind of. On Boxing Day 2006 I was at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for day one of the 4th Ashes test (and England about to go 4-0 down). The temperature high that day was a distinctly un-balmy 14 degrees centigrade. For context the average Melbourne Christmas hits 25 degrees (it once reached 40). 14 was a shock to say the least. It was even more of a shock for those living in the mountain ranges east of Melbourne where it snowed. Summer in Australia and it snowed. Bizarre.
Anyway back to the point at hand. I recall just one white Christmas in my UK years so it seems a bit tough the *odds being offered being what they are for a white Christmas this year:
London 8/1, Glasgow 5/4, Newcastle 9/4, Manchester 4/1, Cardiff 10/1. Or if you happen to be in Paris: 20/1.
(These *odds as at 20 December 2023.)
I won’t be heading down to the bookies to put a tenner on at these sorts of odds.
When we see addictions portrayed in films and tv they tend to focus on characters struggling with drink or drugs. Problem gambling doesn’t seem to get the screenplay treatment that much. That’s why I was interested to see the first few episodes of season 3 of Apple TV’s Slow Horses.
Other than Slow Horses being, in my very humble opinion, being just about the best British drama on TV in 2023, one of the main characters, Marcus Longridge (Kadiff Kirwan) has a chronic gambling problem. He is, in turn, sneered at derisorily by some colleagues (who accuse him of gambling his mortgage), while others simply brush off his problems. When he responds he comes across as somewhere on the ashamed-guilty-defensive-embarrassed axis.
Question is… does the depiction of this character help or hinder Joe (or Josephine) Public’s understanding of gambling addictions? Does this character reinforce negative stereotypes? Or does it actually help? Longridge is a likeable character – but does this make us more sympathetic or take his situation less seriously? One thing for sure is that increased awareness about gambling harms can’t be a bad thing – however that awareness has been increased.
Oh, and Slow Horses is a bloody good watch. Or did I say that already?
Writing for online
When you spend thousands of hours writing content for websites you, knowingly and unknowingly, become a slave of sorts to Google, keywords and SEO.
In the not-so-distant past this meant writing articles that might start something like:
“If you love Korean food and you’re looking for a genuine Korean dining experience for the best Korean food outside of Korea look no further than Korean Ken’s Korean Barbecue in Smith Street. Lovers of Korean food regularly visit…”
Ok, maybe not as blatant as that but, thankfully, keyword ‘stuffing’ is out. Google doesn’t like it. In professional development webinars or when reading industry articles we regularly hear or read, “Google doesn’t like that” or “Google likes…”
Things have changed though. Thankfully, pleasingly and for all sorts of positive reasons the expert recommendations for writing for online (and what Google likes) these days can be summarised as: “Good quality content written by people for people.” Which means essentially: write naturally, write genuinely, write for people, not algorithms. Google itself is awash with advice and tips on how to approach this. Here’s some guidance on writing reviews.
It will be interesting to see how much written content online continues to improve as a result. Check out some of our recent industry news articles for examples of writing naturally!
Sports betting ‘explosion’ driving student gambling addiction
Time Magazine, the US news media institution (circulation 3M+), last week delivered an alarming insight into the growth of sports betting among university students.
Oliver Staley’s extensive and exhaustively researched article will set alarm bells ringing loudly across US campuses and in middle-class homes with parents of university-aged children.
Observations and findings include:
“One out of 10 college students is a pathological gambler, according to one meta-analysis conducted by professors at the University of Buffalo…”
“‘I look at the legalization of gambling like I look at the opioid crisis,’ says Diana Goode, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling.”
“National College Athletic Association, shows how sports betting has become commonplace. Nearly 60% have bet on sports, and 4% do so daily. Almost 6% reported losing more than $500 in a single day.”
It’s a sobering read. Do we need to brace ourselves in the UK? After all, many a cultural phenomenon that started in the US made its way across the Atlantic soon after.
For the full Time Magazine article, click here.