Susie Rushton: Football's over. Great. Or maybe not ...

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So that's it – for three months, at least. As a woman who doesn't even feign interest in watching live football, the end of "the season" should be a moment of blessed relief. I should be planning Saturday nights in with the footie-free telly schedules. I could go for lovely Sunday-afternoon strolls nearby the three major stadiums in my neighbourhood, areas so frequently swamped by vaguely belligerent hoardes in football shirts. Instead, I find myself sad that the multimillion-pound carnival of running and kicking is drawing to a close. And here are the reasons why it's bad news, even for people who don't care about the sport:

1 Politics does scandal too, but I'll miss the gaffes that football culture gives us. In football, you can be as primitive as you like – so long as you don't get caught out. Can you imagine any other area of public life in which Andy Gray and Richard Keys would be allowed near a microphone?

2 The pre- and post-game flash mob. Life's never boring when you step on a District Line train into a fog of Chelsea fans' beer breath. Then there's the way, after Fulham play, our street becomes a rat-run for honking, impatient car-poolers. On the day QPR were promoted, I walked into a literal riot of white and blue on a residential street in Shepherd's Bush. These moments give west Londoners a rare sense of living in an edgy urban environment.

3 The tranquillity of a Saturday afternoon. You read correctly. If I had Sky Sports, I'd be quite glad for the break. But fortunately, my Villa-supporting boyfriend is superstitious about watching live games. I've come to appreciate the peace that falls on our household each Saturday around 5pm as minute-by-minute game updates are checked and chewed over in private communion with the laptop.

4 Wayne Rooney. Without the potato-headed genius who swears into a camera, what would young boys do for role models?

5 With the touchline untrodden by gesticulating men in suits, men's style will suffer. Goodbye to Carlo Ancelotti's Mayfair maitre'd tailoring; to Roberto Mancini's exquisite scarf-tying talents; to Arsene Wenger's undulating locks.

6 The fortunes of British football managers is a discrete dramatic genre. Life will be dull indeed without their summary sackings, death threats, and hospitalisation.

7 A break from football doesn't mean a break from the tediousness of spectator sport. Other, even less interesting activities will fill the void. Ladies, are you ready for wall-to-wall Grand Prix, cricket, horse-racing, cycling and golf?

8 The feminist website Jezebel.com has an irregular photo feature in which it praises the most appealing pair of footballing thighs, alongside a photograph of some high-sheen flesh; no more of that for the meantime.

9 The inside of pubs. During the football season, it's easy to plan a quick drink around the match schedules, and, in my case, avoid the times games are on. In the summer, your local will be colonised by an unholy mix of motor-racing fans, slack-jawed lotharios and sunshine avoiders – and they could be there at any time of day.

10 Ryan Giggs can hide in his mansion now. Roll on September.







The stylist who can get the critics off Michelle's back



When Michelle Obama arrives in London today, I fear a repeat of what happened last time the was in town; it'll be all about what she wears.

Mrs Obama has had a few domestic hiccups with her fashion choices lately. For a Chinese state dinner in January, she wore a red photo-printed McQueen dress – and was scolded for not wearing American. When she visited Britain in 2009, she was a walking advertisement for US chain J Crew. But she's begun to wear more European labels in recent months. This new policy may have been influenced by a change in personnel: in December she parted with her fashion adviser, Chicago retailer Ikram Goldman, and is now taking tips from stylist Meredith Koop. Nobody knows much about Koop, apart from that she's blonde, works in the East Wing of the White House and has listed "Barack Obama" as her "interest and activity" on her Facebook page.

According to Mrs Obama's spokeswoman, a key part of Koop's job is "considering the best offered price, and buying on discount if discounts are available". I'll look out for a hard-bargaining American blonde at Oxford Street Primark this week.







For a bookshop to succeed, it needs the human touch



Under its new owner, Alexander Mamut, Waterstones is hoping to improve its fortunes. He has hired independent bookseller James Daunt to help him. The plan is simple. To sell more books. Where is Waterstones going wrong? I thought about this yesterday as I made my fortnightly browse at a local branch. I still think of Waterstones as a "proper" bookshop, but actually, it does increasingly resemble WH Smith. Its merchandising is of the pile-'em-high variety, with a Great Wall of Cookery Books upstairs indicating what the market wants right now.

The "three for two" offer on new-ish paperbacks has frustrated me too many times to bother with now; it's impossible to find that third decent novel from the selection, and I always end up with at least one dud. Huge displays of stationary dominate the entrance. Background music tinkles over a tannoy (where are we, America?). Staff are friendly, but not always rigorous in their searches for less obvious books. And finding exactly what you want is the best service a bookseller can provide.

Which brings us to the biggest problem Waterstones faces: Amazon does book-finding really, really well. A bricks-and-mortar store can't offer exhaustive stock. But it can offer real, human expertise. How to sell millions of copies of The Dukan Diet at the same time is a marketing riddle Mr Mamut will need to try to solve.

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