A (Not Very) Brief History of 2013, Before Everyone Else Attempts One…

After the dizzy heights of national pride experienced in 2012, you would be forgiven for thinking that 2013 would be a bit of a let down. Like a hangover, if you will. If we’re honest, things didn’t start too well as it was discovered that Iceland had been feeding us horse instead of beef in their lasagne dishes and the like. Easy mistake to make, obviously, both cows and horses have four legs, and are relatively large, so why not? By that logic, don’t be surprised if you see a Rhino Moussaka pop up as a ready meal some time soon…

The state of affairs didn’t improve when the goings on of some of Britain’s most famous TV faces from the 1970s were found to have involved a large quantity of utterly deplorable child sex offences. I’m sure the world has heard enough of Jimmy Savile’s name over the course of this year, but nothing ruins a reputation more than being a serial sex offender. It’s all well and good when you’re dead, it’s almost like you think you got away with it… but the world will always know now.

While I’m on the subject of certain dodgy individuals in positions of power, the Catholic Church was forced into choosing a new Pope after the bizarre resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in February. Unless I misread somewhere, the job of the Pope is held until you’re dead. A bit like paying taxes or sitting in front of the television waiting for a weather report to be wrong, just so you can write in and complain. (If there’s anyone out there that actually does that, PLEASE don’t bother…)

It seemed that the only good news in Britain came from sport. The British and Irish Lions rugby team actually beat Australia over the course of three matches, and a (currently) British man ACTUALLY won Wimbledon. Even the English cricket team won the Ashes, but then lost it again. We can gloss over that for now…

In other news, a baby that is more powerful than any single one of us (despite the fact that he is barely six months old as I write) was born. It’s not as if you couldn’t have heard about little baby George, because his name was all over the place. The media took it upon themselves to speculate about every last detail, and the sheer boredom that can come with six hours of broadcasting with no real news took its toll on journalists, as well as anyone that would’ve bothered to have sat through the running commentary of poor old Kate’s labour. To any women reading this, imagine if you were going through childbirth and there were copious amounts of cameras outside the hospital trying to predict what was happening at every given moment. Madness.

In the rest of the world, Robert Mugabe “won” the Zimbabwean election, while Kim Jong-Un got his uncle executed in an attempt to prove his worth on the world stage. Vladimir Putin was caught on camera topless for no apparent reason yet again, Barack Obama has been pretty quiet, and Boris Johnson continues to live in his own little world. As per usual, then. 

Somehow, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) made such strong gains in local elections this year that they were the third largest political party existing at that point. Until they were uncovered as racists, sexists, homophobes etc… but they still remain more popular than Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats. Which isn’t all that hard, but still.

In other news, Miley Cyrus thought it would be a good idea to use a foam finger in the complete wrong way and appear naked in a music video in order to get attention. A song raising an important issue in nature became very popular, making people think about what a fox might say. To this day, no one knows. A woman threw eggs at Simon Cowell and the X Factor song got to Christmas Number 1. Shock, horror etc…

One of the greatest figures in world history to have ever lived died in December as well. Even the great Nelson Mandela couldn’t have everything his own way at his own memorial service when a fake sign language interpreter managed to get through every bit of security going to pretend to know how to sign.

In short, then, 2013 hasn’t been all that great for the world. But the one solace that we can take from this is that Justin Bieber has said he’s retiring. If that isn’t something to be joyous about, I don’t know what is. Happy 2014, everyone.

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Just Why Do Fans Hate Repeated Sporting Success?

I was watching the British Grand Prix from the comfort of the sofa on Sunday to witness the largest cheer of the day from the partisan British crowd coming on lap 42, in which World Champion for the last three years and current Championship leader Sebastian Vettel retired with a transmission failure. Unsporting, yes, but reflective of opinion for sure. Sky commentators theorised at the time that the sheer glee of Vettel’s retirement came from previous events, such as in Malaysia when he committed the ultimate unsportsmanlike act in disobeying the orders of his team/employers to steal the victory from his overall more popular team mate. But I think it’s more than that. The global audience of Formula 1 has had to sit back and watch Sebastian Vettel win from pole position with the fastest car time and time again, with any hiccups being more scarce than Britain winning anything in the Winter Olympics; or Sir Alex Ferguson blaming anyone other than a referee for when his team dropped any points. It’s just not natural.

Pathologically, I think that us sport fans simply lament the continued success of others. I say ‘continued’ because we don’t mind when someone wins something/tastes general success for the first time. We often feel happy that the latest event to herald a new talent is something to revel in. Of course we do. Why shouldn’t we? Someone has achieved a goal and has deserved it. Well done, them. Win the same thing over and over again however, and we won’t like them anymore. Because it’s boring. Put Manchester City up against Grimsby Town and very few of us will want City to win. Because we would expect them to.

One thought is that we might simply want to see entertainment. I’m pretty sure that in football a 3-3 draw between two evenly matched teams would be much more intriguing than a 7-0 rout. And in F1, a race with five different lead changes is far better to watch than the fastest man in the fastest car running away with the race and everyone finishing where they started. We should know, that’s all that happened for the first half of the last decade with a certain German driving a Prancing Horse… Along the same vein, in competition at the highest level spectators would expect to see a strong fight for supremacy, but if one person/team is metaphorical streets ahead of the opponent the spectacle is taken away to a certain extent.

If there’s one thing that sports fans love more than anything, however, it’s a good underdog. The 1000/1 outsider that can bring a brief smile when they defeat one of the big guns. And you only have to mention one word to sum up underdog stories this year so far: Wimbledon. Rafael Nadal crashing out in a tennis Grand Slam first round for the first time in his career against Belgian Steve Darcis; and the almighty Roger Federer falling in the second round against the un-fancied (and virtually unheard of) Sergiy Stakhovsky, who broke the Great Swiss’s run of 36 consecutive Grand Slam quarter finals that he had reached previously. The tennis fan pages were in uproar, and rightly so. Because the fact of the matter is that upsetting the norm is what keeps sport interesting.

When Wigan defeated Manchester City to win the FA Cup in May, other than if you’re a City fan, obviously, the sporting fan community was ecstatic with that result. David had befallen Goliath (or another clichė along that line…) and for one day at least, we could smile knowing that people in Bookmakers’ up and down the country had made a lot of money on the extreme odds against the underdogs when they put a cheeky quid on. Drinks are on me tonight, lads. (But Wigan got relegated from the Premier League soon after, so let’s just gloss over that for now…)

Even when people decide to support those that win everything, that seemingly makes them suddenly lower in our expectations. This breed of people are often classed as ‘Glory Hunters’. It must be great for you lot, never having to taste defeat with the team you support. So don’t be surprised to see someone wearing a Man Utd shirt one week and a Chelsea strip the next when you see them at the pub. If you know anyone that does this, give them a telling off from me. Many thanks!

The great voice of F1, Murray Walker said in an interview this month that he was happy that he wasn’t commentating during the peak of the Schumacher dominance, branding it “The dullest period I’ve seen in F1”. And he’s right. It was. The same driver winning race in, race out, week after week. And in football, Man Utd won the Premier League? Again? Wow, I love a bit of excitement, I do, nothing predictable about that at all… So I can conclude with you now that repeated success truly is boring. Simple answer to a big question, really. The one exception I can think of is the Olympics. If the same person wins the same event, it’s only every four years, so we don’t really care. If the same teams/people win everything every week, it’ll get to the point where there won’t be any point wasting our time watching for the results when we already know what’s going to happen. But as Usain Bolt wins his races in the public eye very sporadically, we can let it slide. So there’s my message to you, sportsmen and women: keep it interesting, let someone else win once in a while. Then you’ll be liked more.

Claire Williams Becomes Deputy Team Principal At Williams

Andy's GP Blog

It has been confirmed that Claire Williams has been appointed as the Deputy Team Principal of the Williams F1 Team, a role she will assume with immediate effect. This new role will see her work alongside her father and Team Principal Sir Frank Williams, and has created a clear succession path for the Grove-based outfit.

The announcement of this new appointment was initially scheduled to take place before the start of the new Formula 1 season, however with the death of Lady Virginia Williams earlier in the month, both Sir Frank Williams and Claire Williams elected postpone the announcement due to family privacy. Claire will play a pivotal role in the day to day running of the team, and will continue her role as the Commercial Director of the British outfit. Claire Williams began her career within the team in 2002 as the press officer, and has since worked her…

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Happy Anniversary (to me…)

Well, WordPress has reliably informed me that this is the anniversary of my first post! Probably time to be a bit cringey and say ‘Thanks for reading!’ There. Wasn’t as hard to do as I would’ve hoped…

I aim to post even more delightful musings for you lot to look over when I am actually able to get around to it! I think more than 2500 hits in a year for someone no one has ever heard of isn’t a bad effort so thanks very much for reading. Here’s to another good year, blogosphere!

It really has been a while…

You know when you haven’t written enough when a Pre-Euro 2012 post is still listed on your “Recent” pile, and the one sort of band review you did back in May is there too.

In any case, enjoy the new stuff! The first of the new essay-style posts will be on the F1 Championship battle after the race tomorrow in Japan… So keep your eyes peeled!

Remember to follow me on Twitter too @henryvalantine … Just in case you wanted to know.

Henry’s Back!

It’s been a while, but yes, blogosphere, I’m back. Tell your friends, and friends of friends while you’re at it! How exciting…

A Levels aren’t exactly forgiving with their workload, but I promise to you that I’ll be writing when there are opportunities to.

Everyone loves a good comeback, don’t they? I may not be Lazarus or Take That yet, but I’m working on it…