Newest Review: ... or people in the public eye. For those of you who are wondering if I have won anything from Take A Break yet the answer is sadly no, but... more
Give me a break, anna story, anna compention, anna rubbish letters page
Take A Break
Member Name: missniff
Take A Break
Advantages: It only costs 80p, and keeps me sane
Disadvantages: That for some people this is actually their real life
Take a Break magazine... voyeuristic journey into working class horrors? A statement about the state of the UK? Reality TV in a easy to read weekly magazine?
I've read Take a Break often over the last 10 years, I've never been a subscriber or regular buyer, but occasionally a powerful need to read about the latest hospital blunder or reunited family (usually with dire consequences) comes over me and I part with 80p in my local newsagents or supermarket.
Take a Break has a consistent and reliable formula, I can't say I've noticed any major changes in the last decade.
Cover: Usually some wholesome, mumsy looking lady on the front cover, Take a Break emblazoned in red and white in the top left corner, the rest of the cover is covered in strap lines about the best stories inside, I use the cover to determine if the stories inside the magazine sound more appealing to me that the stories wrapped around the front covers of other magazines. Sometime TAB wins and sometimes it loses, depends on how I fell at the time.
the first double page is the taken up with 'Take a Break Street'. Here is where readers send in their own pictures of kids, dogs, flower beds, hen parties, actual hens, etc etc. Personally I would cringe with embarrassment if anyone ever sent a pic of me to TAB, I really feel this is the territory of proud grandparents who think that getting someone's name in print would be awesome.
Real Life!! The majority of the magazines is filled with 'Real Life' stories. Anything from a families most devastating event, stories on illnesses, pregnancy, weddings, murder, domestic & child abuse. Sometimes they will follow a particular story each week - currently they are keeping us up t date with a story on a woman who became pregnant with quads. Well cheery. For me these stories are always really heart-wrenching and I almost certainly will cry. The best are tales of someone overcoming adversity - issue 41 contains a great story about a little girl who was told she would never walk having been diagnosed with cerebal palsy, she, her mother, her twin and the rest of the family have been so brave and determined to make the best life possible despite all the hard work and adversity put their way. Where these stories can fall down is if you think the person telling the tale is lying or wrong in their judgements, there is a cash incentive for these stories, and although TAB don't seem to mention how much, I believe the going rate is anything from £250 to £500, probably more for a real exclusive that TAB can tout around other publications.
Brainwaves Roadshow is a single page dedicated to readers and their money or time saving ideas. There is always something pointless on this page like... 'Don't throw out your old summer dresses - wear them in winter as nighties' I mean SERIOUSLY, who is going to do that? Another I remember recently was 'If you struggle to put a cork back in a bottle of wine, turn the cork around' I mean, I worked this out for myself the first time I ever had to replace a cork, all you have to do is look at the cork, and you will realise that the end that has been further in the bottle is smaller! Jeeze.
Competitions also feature heavily in TAB. they have Sudoko, wordsearch, crosswords, arrow word and many more. Issue 41 that I am looking at has details of 104 previous winners from issue 32, along with the entry coupon for this issue - there are 15 competitions I could enter from this issue alone, sometimes this value varies.
They also have a 'Coffee Break' fiction page. Usually a single page of short fiction. I think these stories are always a bit rubbish and you can easily guess the ending before you get there, even though it only takes 2 mins to read.
The Heartbeat section deals with health news, there is usually a large piece on a specific item of news, a couple of real life heath stories. A short Q&A with their doctor, along with some short news snippets. In this issue I have to say that I think TAB have been incredibly irresponsible. They have a large piece based on one Professor in Newcastle's claims that deadly melanoma (killer skin cancer) has been widely mis-diagnosed for those who have had benign (non cancerous) moles removed. He says that this has meant that the media (including TAB we have to assume) has scaremongered the GB public into believing that the sun is bad for us, and that sunbeds will give us cancer. This Prof. declares it as all nonsense and even goes so far as to tell us to top up our tans at the tanning salon should we wish. This piece made me so angry! To imagine that someone right now can use this as evidence that the tanning shop iss good for you when there has been extensive research that proves otherwise is wrong of TAB. I am no scientist, but surely they need to present a more balanced argument than they did in this article. Journalism should be there to educate where needed but this was just unhelpful and a backward step in the wider battle against skin cancer, until proper research is done.
Take a Buddy is a slight spin on the usual agony aunt page, here a TAB staffer (Katie Fraser) helps with readers problems by asking other readers for their advice. I guess it is a nice opportunity for those who want to use their experiences to help others, but sometimes the advice given in this section is just not healthy for people to follow, and something a trained counsellor would never recommend. I think they believe they are giving some balanced views on what to do in some situations, but they are missing the mark in my opinion.
TAB also feature a few pages of recipes, usually something the whole family can enjoy, or something simple. I like the recipes, they are really easy to follow and TAB give details on price per portion and nutritional information for the dish.
Take a Break usually have a double page spread fashion section too, while it isn't even close to high end fashion I think they have got a good balance here, the clothes and accessories they feature are in line with trends along with usually being good value and easy for a busy mum to find (in Tescos for example, or at a large retailer/online).
They also have a beauty advise page, touted as 'The most honest beauty advice you'll read anywhere'. I think this is a fair assessment. Some magazines will seem to promote a product, because the great Clinque (or whoever) PR machine is in full swing sending out samples to the beauty editor of major magazines, but dress it as advice, something that always galls me. The beauty page also has a small section where readers can recommend their favourite product, I like this aspect of the page too.
The last page is 'Sensible & Barmy'. We're supposed to believe that Sally Sensible and Betty Barmy want to hear all our stories, be they utter drivel or not. Often they are - fortunately it is just a single page of readers letter on pretty much any old subject that pops into their heads.
Overall I will buy Take a Break again. I give it a hard time in places, and some of the journalism is questionable. Sadly since it is the only way I can cry I have to keep buying it to ward off the mental breakdown I would have without the emotional release, and to help me remember that I am really a very fortunate person not to have all this crazy drama that goes on in some people's lives.
Summary: Someone's gotta buy it