Thankfully, the United Kingdom bears little resemblance to the land of Westeros, geography aside. Westminster can hardly be described as a vipers’ pit. There isn’t even a Master of Whisperers since the departure of the great schemer of our age – Peter Mandelson. I suppose the closest parallel that we have, or that I can concoct, is the Premier League with its endless jockeying for position. So, in a desperate attempt to make comparisons that don’t really exist, much like Buzzfeed, I thought I’d have a good go at comparing the principle protagonists of the two worlds. Big Sam as Robert Baratheon? Pulis as Bronn? Close, but not quite – Bronn has sense of humour and isn’t chippy. Anyway, my comparisons are set out below:
Alas, from a league table perspective, Barclays Fantasy Premier League (FPL) 2013/14 was a disappointing season for me. I say from a league table perspective as points-wise it was my highest total to date. It would seem that the general standard of FPL play is improving, although the particularly high points hauls of 2013/14 probably owed more to the performance of Luis Suarez – glad to see the back of him!
My stubborn, contrarian streak negatively impacted my performance last season (in some seasons it has aided me). Sticking with Van Persie when he was fit, thereby missing out on some hefty Suarez points hauls, and ignoring the Ramsey bandwagon, hurt me. For instance, in one gameweek alone I missed out on approximately 50 points after Suarez’s heroics against Norwich.
As the last two seasons have been relatively lean, I have revised my FPL ‘Top Tips’ for 2014/15. I now accept that incurring points deductions in FPL is not the biggest sin and possibly has some merit, particularly early on in the season and in joining the big club player bandwagons as demonstrated by Suarez, Y.Toure and Ramsey last season. Still, my contrarian outlook remains and I like to think my misjudgements of last season have sharpened up my analysis. I hope you find my recommendations below helpful.
Iwas a little bit apprehensive before the MCC v Rest of the World at Lord’s. I’m not normally one for friendly sporting fixtures and I feared that it might be light entertainment at its worst with an ambience bordering on the inane, hyperactive, jocularity of Question of Sport. Thankfully, none of the cricketers made any concerted efforts to mimic Matt Dawson, playing the game in a semi-serious manner. There was even some scuttling about on the boundary led by the blooming Tamim Iqbal and everyone’s favourite, Kevin Pietersen. Most of the retired cohort looked in pretty good shape with no one yet reaching the comfortable proportions of an Inzamam-ul-haq, although Murali seemed to be developing a slight paunch. Brian Lara kept the amateur spirit alive when he failed to make up the five yards necessary to take a dolly at short mid-on after a thick edge from Yuraj Singh.
Last week the ‘great lion of BBC journalism’ and ‘the scourge of politicians’ called it a day after 25 years in the saddle as the principle Newsnight anchorman. Of course there was no thanksgiving, tears or even a wobbly lip. The ‘great lion’ did, however, agree to mark his departure by partaking in some minor frivolities, going on a bike ride with Boris and presenting his favourite news item – the weather. Newsnight will certainly be weakened by his departure; it might as well have been called The Jeremy Paxman Show. Fortunately, the ‘scourge of politicians’ won’t disappear entirely as his enthusiasm for reading out tricky questions to bright young things and making high pitched utterances of disdain remains undiminished.
As a Newsnight anchor I shall miss him, more as an entertainer than as an informer. He had charisma and star quality and was a cut above most of his contemporaries. In a programming era increasingly driven by ‘accessibility’ he was a welcome intellectual bulwark. Indeed, if Jeremy Paxman presents a programme, you know that it comes with a triple A intellectual rating. The questions on University Challenge are as difficult as they ever were.
It’s a little odd, I know, but in the build up to the World Cup in the Youtube age, I watch it again, and again, and again: the montage clip of England’s travails at Italia ’90 accompanied by Nessun Dorma* belted out by Luciano Pavarotti. Why do I do it? Is there nothing more to it than having a particular regard for Luciano’s stirring rendition? Do I like watching grown men cry? Am I just weird?**