My first Super Bowl

If you’d asked me what a Super Bowl was, any time up until a couple of weeks ago, I’d have confidently told you that it was a delicious healthy lunch dish with rice, avocado, kale, quinoa and various other on-trend ingredients. But I now know better.

Last week a new display of cakes and biscuits appeared in the supermarket here in northern California –

The San Francisco football team, the 49ers, had made it into the final of the National Football League, and this game is called the Super Bowl. I did a bit of research and found out that the 49ers had played in the superbowl seven times before and had won five times – so it seemed to me that they had a very good chance of winning.

Very excitingly, I was invited to a Super Bowl party and decided I’d better mug up on the rules beforehand. I learned that the game consists of a series of individual plays … outside of which the ball is or is not in play. That sounded reassuringly opaque. The article went on each team should have not more than eleven players on the field. The word should seems to imply that a canny coach might sneak an extra two or three onto the field and see if he could get away with it. I tried to verify this by counting the players during the game, but they moved so quickly that it was impossible to tell.

I’d been warned beforehand that the closest equivalent to American football is pitched battle, but even so the level of violence was horrifying, with men being thrown to the ground, jumped on, and crushed. It reminded me of the fight scenes in Asterix books, where the Roman soldiers are hurled left and right by the invincible Gauls … and it makes a game of rugby look like a tiptoe through the tulips.

We had the traditional football game snacks too –

Although the kale chips are probably not quite so traditional in other States which are less hipster-heavy than California.

It’s not just the game that everyone enjoys, the advertising breaks are highly anticipated, as companies really pull the stops out and spend a fortune on celebrities and clever scripts to create memorable ads for the 123 million viewers. It costs $7 million for a 30-second advertisement – the most expensive advertising slot of the year – and two of the ads this year were advertising Jesus.

A lent prayer advertisement

Then there were lavish trailers for upcoming films, and ads featuring celebrity endorsed products. Rather bafflingly there was an Uber Eats ad featuring David and Victoria Beckham. Since she’s famous for never eating anything at all, I felt that this was not money well spent.

I learned from my online research that the tradition of the half-time show began after a rival TV channel put on a very popular programme to coincide with the players’ half-time break in 1992, and they lost a lot of viewers. So in 1993 the NFL hired Michael Jackson to put on a show at half time and keep the viewers on their channel. This year it was Usher, and all I can say is that anyone who can sing, roller skate and take his shirt off, all at the same time, definitely gets my vote.

And of course there was the presence of Taylor Swift, adding even more fuel to this high-octane event. The cameras kept cutting to her looking anxious or elated, depending on the score, or chugging a beer with her famous chums. Apparently she’d just flown in from Tokyo, and everyone was amazed to see how fresh and wide awake she looked. But I think I know her secret – because I saw this magazine in the supermarket the other day …

Yes, folks, the Taylor Swift At-Home Crafting Guide enables anyone with a few crafting skills to create their very own Taylor Swift at home. This means that there can be a Taylor in Tokyo, and another one in Vegas, while the real one puts on a 1950s sun dress and stays at home making pavlova. Genius!