World Cup Watch

This week the World Cup, at least from an English point of view, took a turn for the depressing. The England team bowed out with a 0-0 draw, raising once again the debate as to exactly what Roy Hodgson can offer other than a very impressive owl impersonation, and also showing that the team is in dire need of some passion. They were joined by Spain and Italy as a trio of team’s with reason to be unhappy at going home so early. Meanwhile, Liverpool and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez was hit with a record four-month ban, alongside more bizarre restrictions, such as a ban on being in the Liverpool team photo for the next season, and a ban on taking part in football-related charitable activities, somewhat undermining whatever message FIFA was trying to send.

Glastonbury

The actual football has dazzled though, with Lionel Messi among the stars fulfilling their club form on the international stage, while player of the tournament so far is arguably Colombia’s James Rodriguez, who has been at the centre of a team looking very strong so far. If there was one characteristic that sum’s up this years Glastonbury, it’s been variety. On the Friday, as Arcade Fire’s fantastically urethral brand of music lit up the Pyramid Stage, Skrillex, of ‘how loud and distorted can I make this synthesiser sound’ fame, drew rave reviews – rave being the operative word – for his set on the Other Stage. Saturday saw Metallica perform an electric set, while Sunday’s headliners Kasabian were complimented by Dolly Parton and Yoko Ono (not collaborating – that would be something). There really seems to have been a good breadth of sounds this time. Or maybe, everything’s gone commercial, Metallica have become rather tame, Dolly Parton is now The Dolly Parton Tribute Act, and creative musicianship is dead. And, in the most unsurprising weather news of all time, there was rain at Glastonbury. So pretty much as good a year as any.

Scottish Andy?

The 128th Wimbledon Championships began this week, and, on the mens side, compared to recent years, there has been a distinct lack of shocks. Nadal avoided a repeat of 2012 when he overcame Lukas Rosol in 4 sets, as just about every match went the way it was expected to in terms of seeding. Andy Murray made it through to the 2nd week, with four comfortable wins suggesting his trial partnership with new coach Amelie Mauresmo has potential.

On the women’s side, it was slightly less predictable, with 2nd seed Li Na slipping out early on, while by round four, around half of the 32 seeds had fallen, although big names like Maria Sharapova still remain, her in particular in search of a 1st Wimbledon since her debut win as a 17-year-old 10 years previously. British prospect Heather Watson, our best hope in lieu of injured British No.1 Laura Robson, made it to the second round before falling to seed Angelique Kerber.

Queen of Thrones?

What has been overlooked so far, speaking of Brits, is how this might be the last Wimbledon, or indeed grand slam, with a British title hopeful. With the Scottish independence referendum looming, and with English-affiliated players like Watson and Robson struggling on the WTA side, who will take Murray’s place should he need to swear allegiance north of the wall? Talking of ‘the Wall’ and ‘the North’, the Queen visited the Northern Ireland set of Game of Thrones this week, and pictures of Elizabeth eying up the Iron Throne sparked the expected set of crossover memes, with highlights such as ‘Windsor is coming’ and ‘Lizzie, Mother of Corgis’, although her failure to actually sit on it was a major disappointment. Personally speaking, it would have been far more exciting to see her visit the set for Flea Bottom, but this was still a good addition to the ‘Queen & Pop Culture She Doesn’t Really Care About’ folder. 

Coulson-Balls

The phone-hacking scandal saw a resolution of sorts, as Andy Coulson was found guilty of his charges, while contemporary Rebekah Brooks walked free. One has to assume this was simply due to a lack of a unanimous verdict by the jury, because quite how Brooks was unaware of the phone-hacking is a mystery. The real brilliance of this meanwhile has been seeing David Cameron squirm from one excuse to another in an attempt to explain why he hired Coulson as his advisor in 2007, short answer – they’re mates, and Coulson seems to be cut from the same cloth as The Thick of Its Malcolm Tucker – high on cunning, low on integrity.

Grumpy Oldman

Finally, Gary Oldman hit the headlines this week, as in an attempt to defend Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic comments from 2006 in an interview with Playboy Magazine, he ended up sounding a bit anti-Semitic himself, with such lines as ‘this town’s (Hollywood) run by Jews’. A sincere apology on the Jimmy Kimmel Show went someway to repairing the damage, but perhaps can’t paper over every crack.

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