The football manager
Sam Allardyce, 61, is a former footballer and now manages Sunderland. He divides his time between the north-east of England and Bolton, where he lives with his wife, Lynn.
I wake up naturally between 7am and 8am on a match day; we’re playing Bournemouth this afternoon. I’ll put Sky Sports on while I’m having a cup of tea, but I don’t want any phone calls because that means there’s a problem – someone’s been taken ill or fallen down a pothole. We train most mornings but never on a match day, so I’ll drive from my home in Bolton to the home training ground in Sunderland for a pre-match meal at 11.45am with the rest of the lads. We jump on a coach to the stadium and by 1.45pm I’ve put in the team sheet (listing the players’ names) and invited the opposition manager and captain for a drink after the game. Then I have a meeting with all my players in the dressing room and we look at the opposition’s team on a board, so everyone knows who they’re marking on set pieces. The lads will then warm up and I’ll sit quietly, thinking about how the game might pan out.
I don’t like match days at all; I’m always so nervous. Professor Greg Whyte looked at my data and says my heart rate is a “classic example of chronic psychological stress”, but this is a massive game, because Bournemouth are right next to us at the bottom of the league. If we get relegated this year it will be the only failure I’ve had as a manager.
I prefer playing at home, although life is very difficult at the moment whether we’re home or away. The home fans (averaging 42,000) will criticise the team if it feels like they’re not trying, but they will applaud, even if we lose, if they’ve given everything they’ve got.
My heart rate rises at 2.45pm, because I’m agitated and jumping up and down before kick-off at 3pm. Bournemouth score after 13 minutes and I’m concerned about whether my team can hold their nerve, but they score just before half time, which makes life much easier in the second half. Bournemouth don’t score again and we draw 1-1. I don’t say too much after the game because everyone’s pretty emotional. I lose my rag now and again, but only if I feel it’s to the benefit of the players to kick them up the backside. We didn’t play as well as I wanted us to, but it was one point gained, not two lost – and it’s not about how well you play, it’s about getting results.
The two-hour drive home is a good time to reflect on the game. I also reduce my heart rate by meditating when I get the chance, which I’ve been doing since 2004. Stress becomes a part of your life for so long. I’ve had the fear of failure since I left school to become a footballer at 15, and when you move into management the anxiety only gets worse. When I finished at West Ham in May 2015, I wondered whether that was the time to pack it in, but then I got the itch for Sunderland. My wife, Lynn, thinks I’m crazy. She says, “Why can’t you just leave it alone now?” I’m at home by 8.30pm and have beans on toast. In my younger days, my anxiety wouldn’t have gone by then – it would linger – but I know what I need to do on Monday.
We’ll get into bed at 11pm and watch telly (The Affair or Blue Bloods). Lynn will fall asleep but I will be watching until 2am. I’m a 4-5 hours’ sleep man. I’ve always been like that.
oseph Bispham, 30, teaches English and is head of media studies at Forest Gate community school in London. He lives in east London with his girlfriend.
I wake up a lot in the night, often from dreams about the kids at school. That explains the big spike in my heart rate around 2am. But when my alarm goes off at 6.30am, I’m up and out the door in half an hour, with a Thermos of fresh coffee. The longer I linger at home, the less time I have to plan my lessons. There’s nothing worse than the sea of faces that look up at you when you haven’t got a lesson ready, so I’m not surprised by my consistently high heart rate, which dips briefly when I stop for breakfast at the canteen.
At 8.45am I teach year 11 literature. The text is JB Priestley’s An Inspector Calls, which they love, because they get to use a lot of sophisticated political and sociological vocabulary. It’s brilliant when they’ve got a really interesting and relevant text. Kids want to be clever – they’re not afraid of hard work, they’re just afraid of feeling stupid. They get a bit lively towards the end of the class so I raise my voice a lot. One piece of feedback I always get is that I’m too loud and boomy. But my voice is the easiest way to get their attention.
Between classes, I snatch half an hour to do some marking, which I hate with a passion. It’s like stabbing yourself with your mistakes, because if they’ve done something wrong, it’s usually because you’ve taught it badly. You are held accountable for the outcome of your children but you’re not the factor that decides your own success, which takes a lot of control away from you. Teachers are often portrayed as moaners, but people don’t understand our level of frustration and fear for the children; as a result, it’s very hard to switch off.
Over a canteen lunch at my desk I’m prepping for a meeting in the afternoon about the school’s long-term plans when I’m interrupted by a GCSE pupil. My low heart rate suddenly peaks. She has very high predicted grades and works really hard but is underachieving in English. It’s a supportive but frank conversation. At Forest Gate, they’re incredibly driven kids. They tend to pick their moments, but you can’t turn them away because they’d never let you forget it. Someone once described teenagers as being like lawyers – they analyse everything you’ve ever said.
At 1.10pm it’s my year 11 media studies class, which is challenging and disorganised at the moment, and my heart rate is rapidly up and down. At one point, I say the worst thing I’ve ever said to a child: “At what point in your life did you have your common sense surgically removed?”
I’m looking forward to the long-term planning meeting later in the afternoon, where I feel a lot more relaxed. With adult company and a bit of camaraderie, it’s a sanity check; what it must be like working in a normal office.
Cycling home (I had left my bike at school) through the Olympic Park punctuates my day nicely and sees a healthy spike in my heart rate. I’m brutally inefficient in the evening, but I do the necessary marking after dinner, before settling down to the last two episodes of Netflix’s Making A Murderer. My heart rate is on average a lot lower than during my school day, but it spikes a couple of times, which I’m not surprised about; I’m rocking like a madman on my sofa.
The stage actor
Jonathan Andrew Hume, 33, plays Simba in The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre in London. He lives in east London with his wife.
Every morning, I set my alarm for 10am; but that’s an “If you’re not up by now, you need to get up” alarm. I’m usually already awake. You can tell when I jump into the shower by the spike in my heart rate. I tend to procrastinate afterwards – but it’s important to chill out as much as I can before a two-show day. I’ve been in The Lion King since I was 18. I started in the ensemble and got the lead role of Simba in 2011. I need a lot of protein to sustain a good level of energy, so I cook a lunch of rice noodles with chicken breast, sweetcorn, soya beans and hard-boiled eggs, while eating a small bowl of bran flakes and oats. I get the tube from my home in east London to the theatre while listening to hip-hop or chart music. It has to be upbeat; silence has an adverse effect.
I arrive in plenty of time for the cast vocal warm-up at 1.15pm. Once that starts, I won’t stop – and my heart rate is consistently high – until the end of the matinee show at 5pm. To physically warm up, I do 25 minutes of squats, push-ups, sit-ups, rolling (on a foam roller; it’s a bit like having a sports massage) and stretching. The role involves a lot of jumping, so my body takes quite a beating. Simba is played by a child in the first act, so I don’t appear on stage until just before the interval, but there’s no time for sitting around. I shower before costume and makeup, using the heat to steam my vocal chords. After 30 minutes in the makeup chair, my muscles have started to relax, so I’ll do more stretching. I get nervous before every show, especially if there’s a family member or celebrity in the audience (Star Wars’ John Boyega came a few weeks ago), but having a routine helps. Doing the same thing, every day, for eight shows a week might sound mundane, but we try to bring something new to every show. Simba’s story really touches people – I’ll spot audience members crying – and that spurs me on.
After the first show, my heart rate dips. It’s 6pm, so I grab food from Wagamama and relax in my dressing room, watching something like The Big Bang Theory on my iPad. I’ll also ice my knees, which is a bit like when footballers have an ice bath to prevent injuries, and it’s back into a tracksuit – as close to pyjamas as possible – before the process starts again. On a two-show day we need to maintain that same standard; we demand it of ourselves. My heart rate peaks dramatically at 9pm, as I throw myself into the second act; my energy level is exactly where I want it to be.
After a hot shower, I get the tube home, cook a light dinner, then roll and ice my knees so I don’t have tight muscles the next day. My heart rate starts to come down just before midnight, when I’m playing with my two kittens, Sashimi and Miso, before going to sleep at 1.30am for at least eight hours. Cats are brilliant stress relievers.
Roshana Mehdian, 30, is a junior doctor training as a trauma and orthopaedic registrar. She works at a London hospital, where she’s also on call in the evening.
I’m a very heavy sleeper so I set six alarms, which start going off at 6.10am. I rush out the door by 7.10am and into my car for the 40-minute journey into the hospital. I’m on call tonight and I know it’s going to be a long two days, so I feel quite anxious before I get to work. This is the highest my heart rate will be all day. Listening to Radio 1 or Smooth FM helps, as does humming the Rocky theme tune. Also, tea is a big thing in the NHS. Just knowing I will get 10 seconds at some point to make a cup is hugely reassuring. When you’re a doctor, you’re never going to be in your comfort zone, so you need to get comfortable with the feeling of being challenged.
We have a trauma meeting at 8am to work out which cases are most urgent and will need to be operated on this afternoon. In a typical meeting there are four or five consultants, eight registrars and eight senior house officers (SHOs) who assist them. An hour later, my heart rate spikes when the orthopaedic clinic starts. I see back-to-back patients for the next three to four hours with non-emergency ankle and feet problems, including not being able to walk because of bad bunions or arthritis. It’s so busy that I often go straight from the clinic into the theatre operating room at 1pm (until 4.15pm). I’m lucky today to get half an hour for lunch before surgery starts, but I’m sitting at my desk doing paperwork, so there’s no chance for my heart rate to go down. The notion that doctors ever take a dedicated break is rubbish, because we’re not allowed to switch off our bleep.
There are a lot of personal sacrifices you make as a doctor, which you choose to, because you want to do the job, but that’s being eroded by the feeling of being undervalued. Everyone is so demoralised at the moment; it’s making people think twice about their jobs, which is really sad. I’m always anxious walking into the theatre operating room, but as soon as I’ve got the knife in my hand, I get into the zone. Today, I’m working on a fractured and dislocated ankle. At my level, there are only some operations I feel happy doing on my own, so a consultant will always hover if I need them. If I’m really not confident, a senior surgeon will train me through. A recent attempt at fixing a difficult ankle on my own was extremely challenging and affected my confidence. I feel close to calling my consultant now, but I manage it – my heart rate rising very slowly and gradually, before dipping again.
Most surgeons are alpha males or females. I’m atypical because I’m not thick-skinned, but I am persistent and resilient. I feel the most stressed all day when I’m on call in A&E from 4.15pm, and my heart rate is at its most erratic. From car accidents to someone who’s shot themself with a nail gun, you never know what’s going to come in. I get to leave at 8.30pm but I’m technically on call until the next morning, so my heart rate doesn’t come down. The other night, I was there until 3am. Sometimes I get phone calls from the SHO, seeking advice about patients, but there’s nothing to disturb me tonight, and I get a decent sleep before it all starts again.
The live TV presenter
Kirsty Wark, 61, has worked on BBC2’s Newsnight since 1993. She commutes to London from her home in Glasgow, where she lives with her husband, TV producer Alan Clements, and their daughter Caitlin, 25. Their son, James, 23, lives in New York.
I’m up at 5.30am, and out of the house in half an hour. I set two alarms because I’m terrified of missing my flight to London. Looking at my data, I’m surprised my heart rate is so high in the morning as I’m quite a calm person, but I’m going into London earlier than usual to attend a memorial service for my former colleague,Sue Lloyd Roberts. I would normally get a train that gets in at midday. I’ve always commuted from Scotland: it’s where my family are, and as a presenter, it gives me a different perspective from those who live in London. My heart rate dips when I’m on the plane; I love not being contactable. I read articles I’ve cut out from the weekend papers, like JK Rowling’s conversation with Lauren Laverne, then hit the broadsheets, which are all full of speculation about the Syria vote the next day.
There’s a spike at 8am because I’m running to catch the DLR into town, but the highest spike is at 9am when I have a big espresso at Kaffeine; a ritual of mine. I have four or five small cups of black coffee throughout the day, but it looks like I’m going to have to start weaning myself off it. I head to All Souls church at 11.30am for the memorial service and listen in awe to Sue’s daughter making a remarkable and moving speech. Then I’m back at my flat around the corner to do some writing; grabbing lunch from Gitane, a nearby Persian restaurant. I’m working on the first draft of my second novel, so it’s a calm hour well spent.
The BBC is within spitting distance of my flat, and when I arrive at the Newsnight studio at 2pm, the decision has just been made to do a Syria special. I love it when we throw everything up in the air and change the entire programme. That’s what it’s all about. We start researching and brainstorming guests – three pro-military action and three against – to structure it as a formal debate. Our deputy editor, Rachel Jupp, is a feeder, bringing Jaffa Cakes in to the meeting.
I’m an obsessively prepared “homework” person; I don’t want to be caught on the hop. A good interview is when you get someone to open up. Politicians don’t very often, but a lot of the time it’s about what they don’t say. I really look forward to going on air at 10.30pm; that’s hugely enjoyable, rather than stressful, and you can see the adrenaline in my heart rate. One person hasn’t shown up, but we get someone else to argue both sides. It’s live TV, so you just have to deal with it. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for 23 years. It’s passed in the blink of an eye.
When we come off air at 11.15pm, we’ll have a debrief over a glass of incredibly bad wine in the green room. Sometimes I catch the sleeper train back to Glasgow, but tonight I head back to my flat and start reading Signs For Lost Children by Sarah Moss, as I’m judging this year’s Walter Scott prize for historical fiction. I read until I fall asleep. It doesn’t feel like work.
• Kirsty Wark’s debut novel, The Legacy Of Elizabeth Pringle (Two Roads, £7.99), is out now and also available as an ebook.
Angela Hartnett MBE, 47, is chef and proprietor of restaurants including the Michelin-starred Murano in Mayfair and Merchants Tavern in Shoreditch. She lives in east London with her partner, chef Neil Borthwick.
I’m not someone who jumps out of bed. I set my alarm for 6am and it goes off every 15 minutes. I like to think I’ll get up early, but as you can see from my heart rate, it’s more like 8am. The night reports, telling me about the previous day’s takings and any issues, come in from all my restaurants anytime from midnight to 1.30am, but I’m careful not to read them until I get up the next morning and have coffee. I need two cups to get my brain functioning. I cycle from my home in Spitalfields to Murano for a 10.30am menu tasting.
It’s the first time I eat, and I taste about 16 dishes, which doesn’t do anything for my metabolism. I taste, comment on and photograph each dish, before going through them with the head chef. I’ll say, “Tweak this, change that… why did you put that with that?” It can’t just be about my opinion; we can’t have partridge and venison on the menu just because I like them, when duck would be the better option. It has to be collaborative. Modern techniques aren’t necessarily my style, but if the flavour works then I’m all for it.
My heart rate is only high when I’m cycling between restaurants. It would be a lot higher if I was opening a new restaurant: you have to be ready to open on time, because delays cost money, and you have to get the right staff on board – and there’s a real shortage of trained staff. And then you’re flooded with critics who all want to come on the first day – I had four critics in on Murano’s second ever service. Jay Rayner argues that if you’re charging full prices you’ve got to be ready, but it’s not that sort of business. You need to build a team.
I’m quite a relaxed person, day-to-day: they’re restaurants, for Christ’s sake – people need to get over themselves and realise it’s only a carrot. My heart rate rises at 12pm, when lunch service at The Merchants Tavern starts. My partner, Neil, is the head chef, so I just do what he wants me to do, I don’t argue.
Getting the food out on time can be stressful, because you’re reliant on other people, but it gives me an adrenaline rush. It’s the most fun part of the job. I think the mistake a lot of chefs make is putting TV and books and extracurricular things before a restaurant. The minute you start taking your eye off it is when things go wrong.
When I’m not working in the evening, I’ll eat out locally. I stick to regular, local haunts, like St John Bread and Wine and Taberna do Mercado. I don’t want to be challenged on my nights off. I get into bed at 11pm and read for 20 minutes until I drop off, and I sleep through.
[Source:- Thr Gurdian]