has game of thrones lost the plot?

jon snow

Okay, a view disclosures before we get underway. If you haven’t seen the last episode of season five, there are going to be spoilers here so look away now. Also, I am writing as an avid show fan, who has not read the books at present but has watched the show since its commencement. If that in anyway invalidates my opinion to any book readers out there then you too are free to leave my musings.

Have they gone? Good. Here we go.

There can be no question that Game of thrones or GOT as It’s also known as is one of the biggest television successes of recent years. Aired on HBO originally and in UK on Sky Atlantic, I and many other people I know have been avid fans of the series since its commencement.

One of the most anticipated plot lines of season Five was the Sand Snakes of Dorne- the 3 beautiful and feisty warrior daughters of Oberyn and Elliara Sand.  Oberyn was a big hit with fans in the short period he had in the show and every time I see that final scene in which he fights the Mountain, I find myself resisting the futile urge to shout for him to get out of harm’s way. There was a lot of chatter online and much anticipation of the debut of his daughters. However, when the sandsnakes made their eventual appearance audiences were left cold. First of, there was the long, drawn out speech in generic foreign accents before one of them threw a spear into the head of the poor chump captain of the ship who took Jamie Lannister to Dorne. Then, there was the fight with Jamie and Sir Brone of the Blackwater. The same show that brought us the battle of Castle Black misfired with this power rangers inspired mêlée. The final clip of the big bloke with the axe taking about a week to swing it into Jamie’s face, before saying, “It would have been a good fight when you were whole,” was also much parodied.

So what went wrong? Well, in this case casting seems to be an issue. The three girls are all lovely looking additions to the landscape, but it almost seems like a different show when you compare their acting skills with those of Leana Headey as Cersie who can drip hatred through her teeth and the scene in which she simply flicks her eyes to see the entrance of her cousin accusing her of an illicit affair before the High Sparrow is breath-taking in its simplicity.

But there is another issue. Just before season five, there was an announcement that the timeline for the book and the show were going to diverge somewhat.  Whilst I welcomed the idea, the reception to many of these departures has been decidedly mixed.

It’s clear to see why this is. For a start the show is nipping on the heels of the books like a marauding gang of white walkers. We are now at the same point in the timeline as the books, albeit with some characters dead who are not yet dead, and some still alive who should be dead. There’s another reason though.  Thronecast, hosted surprisingly well this season by Sue Perkins and the ousted  former host, reduced to sifting through e-mails, Jamie East had the actor Ian McElhinney who played Sir Barristen was decidedly miffed as he had read the books and knew his character lived on beyond the point when the show called time on him. This, of course, keeps the book readers on their toes.

some people who have religiously devoured the books, felt it was their duty to go on website forums and drop key plotline spoilers about the forthcoming plotlines. For example. I knew that Rob Stark was going to die, that Oberin Martell was going to lose his battle with the Mountain and that Jon Snow was going to be killed by his own kinsmen. Although to be fair this last spoiler was down to some numpty on my local network firing a comment off about the Night’s Watch murdering Jon  when someone asked why was the police helicopter out in our local area. This was doubly annoying as I had been avoiding looking at any GOT info on any websites all that day.

So maybe this is a way to combat the spoilers. However, there could be a fatal error in the quality of the show in departing too far from the books plotline. A lot of people were doubly upset at the rape of Sansa by the fiendishly evil Ramsey Bolton nee Snow. Not just because it was a shocking scene, but because it doesn’t take place at all in the books. Likewise, the burning of Stannis’ daughter to garner  the Lord of Light’s favour  seems to have gone down like a lead balloon with said Lord of Light and the viewing public alike. Maybe book reader’s cant spoil it for the rest of us, but is it a price worth paying if they take such major detours from George’s original vision?

There is some chatter online that Mr Martin is not best pleased with some of the departures, but is having to keep quiet due to the clause of his contract. That may be true, or it may not and only the author himself would be able to answer that.

However, what is clear is that show may be becoming somewhat self aware. One example of this could be when Stannis corrected the grammar of his hand Davos Seaworth. Some people liked it. Some thought it was a nod to the grammar police who troll the net looking for too, to, two misuses. Then there was the incident in which Melisdandre turned to Jon Snow after his rather stoic, but probably wise, rebuff of her advances  and uttered the immortal chat up line.: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” If the show wasn’t jumping the shark at that moment, it certainly was stepping over the dragon. Though it made me laugh, which was probably the intention, it did leave me thinking that next season we might hear Cersei utter the phrase, “Hodor, Hodor Hodor!” Hopefully when her brother is nowhere near the vicinity though.

All in all, GOT season five was a mixed back, possessing some of the most shocking scenes and twists, with one of the best episodes of any television series ever in Hardhome, with maybe one of the worst episodes of the show so far immediately after, Dance of Dragons.

I personally think that now the show and the books are at the same point, there will be few divergences and show will grow stronger. Perhaps cut free from the restraints of the book, the writers lost their way at times, but there was certainly a lot of promise in season five. And lets be honest, a bad episode of Game of Thrones is far better than the best episode of a lot of other television programmes.

The Roots of the Greek Debt Crisis


The crisis in Greece is getting worse. Its people on July 5 voted against the terms of the most recent bailout deal in a referendum, rejecting austerity. If a new deal isn’t reached soon, its government won’t be able to pay its debts and will run out of euros, which many expect it will mean exiting the euro zone. This 2010 Michael Lewis classic for Vanity Fair, “Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds,” helps explain the current situation:

For most of the 1980s and 1990s, Greek interest rates had run a full 10 percent higher than German ones, as Greeks were regarded as far less likely to repay a loan. There was no consumer credit in Greece: Greeks didn’t have credit cards. Greeks didn’t usually have mortgage loans either. Of course, Greece wanted to be treated, by the financial markets, like a properly functioning Northern European country. In…

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Ten years of Thomas (where has the time gone?)


In my last (first ever) blog, I mainly was testing out the format,finding my feet and waxing lyrical about nothing in particular apart from the fact that I had got round to writing a blog. Nothing wrong with that and to be honest if you’ve read the first one and thought yeah I’ll give the second one a bash, first of all thank you for showing an interest, and second expect more of the same in the future.

However, tonight as I sit here with the last remnants of a birthday cake emblazoned with the Man U football club logo ( a club I neither endorse or support) I find myself in quite a reflective mood and thought I would write a little bit about that. It was my son’s tenth birthday today. Obviously that is a bit milestone in his burgeoning life. I was telling him it’s the first time he gets to add another digit onto his age  and that he’ll have to wait another 90 years for the next one (I’ve only got 59 to mine!). He is also on the cusp of the looming teenage years which help shape the adult he is about to become.

Sunrise (1)

“Simba, everything the light touches is your future.” “What’s that dark place in the middle, Dad? That’s your teenage years, son. I’ll see you on the other side.”

I know that full well as my eldest child, my daughter Emma is slap bang in the midst of this and boy do we all  know it at times. it doesn’t take much to set her off. “Please clean your room,” can be met with an unfettered outburst of “I’ll do it later, Dad!” that could set off a sharp spike on the Richter scale. I blame myself. Or rather my fiery Celtic genes. I have to really. Her mother is the only person I’ve ever had to ask to speak up in argument.  Anyway, I’m digressing from my main theme and to be fair on Emma she shows signs of settling back into a more assertive older version of her younger self. So it’s all good.

The point I am heading for is, and I know this sounds a bit obvious, was Thomas’s birthday is actually quite a landmark for me too. You see, I was at uni when Thomas was born. In fact, I was at uni when we decided to have a second child in the first place. I remember the conversations we had about it. I went to uni just before I was thirty to chase the dream I had of being a writer. My wife Wendy was a nurse at that time working on the district. We already had Emma. She was a toddler at this point, and to me it seemed a bit crazy to have another child then. My argument was it wasn’t the best timing financially-wise. However, a woman’s biological clock isn’t always. And so we agreed to try at least and much to our mutual surprise Thomas was born slap bang in the midst of my second term.

While uni does involve intensive periods of studying, it is nowhere  near as time-consuming as having a full-time job.  I was happy to juggle looking after him and study at the same time while Wendy was working part-time. In fact, as a father it was actually a good time to have a baby then as it gave me more time with him than I would have had had I been working during that period.  I would often take him to our workshops in my friend’s Sarah’s house, or for a quick hello to my friends in the student bar.  My female pals all wanted a cuddle of him, while my bloke mates wanted a hold to evoke to the passing ladies their nurturing potential fatherly sides. My grades dipped a little, but not too much. I remember too talking to one of my lecturers with Thomas in his pram and talking about writing and finding time with having kids and him saying maybe once they have gotten a bit older I would find more time.

So while my first thoughts of Thomas are as his father and I love him dearly, his life is almost indelibly linked to the extent of my writing career. He was conceived, born and nurtured as a baby while I was at uni pursuing that course and now a full decade later, he is on the cusp of being a young man and I am still “trying to find time.” Not that I haven’t been writing in all that time. I have written nearly 50k words of a novel, completed one screenplay (though in hindsight it’s quite a naff story) and am working on another. But in ten years Barbara Cartland could have probably written a hundred novels. Fair enough, she didn’t write her own stuff and she’s dead now, so it would be ghost written in more ways than one,  so she might not be the best example. But somehow I have this sense of frustration. It isn’t from lack of ideas. I have them spilling out of me sometimes. They jostle for prime position. It’s just that little thing called time which is precious commodity.

There was a film on a few months back with Justin Timberlake and it was about people literally buying time. It wasn’t particularly good, but it was an interesting hook that would resonate with a lot of people.  A lot of things have happened in those ten years for us as a family. For instance, in the space of a six month period both my father and Wend’s father died and her mum had a severe stroke. It was intensely  heartbreaking, time-consuming period that changed my outlook, and  maybe even my personality, forever. But ironically, it brought us together like never before. Not in an immediately tactile way  as she was living at her mum’s house, but we found we needed to rely on each other more than we had ever done, even just for raising the children.  We realised afresh what it was we saw in each other again.  And we started to understand how each other ticked, which is no mean feat. At that point, writing had been on the back-burner for a while, but when brief pockets of time started to become available, that’s when I felt the need to just write something. I wasn’t overly worried about the quality, and that wasn’t always a bad thing as worrying about the quality stops you from writing anything or gets you hung up over where you should put your next and for 3 hours!

Maybe, in all this I am missing the point anyway. Writing isn’t necessarily all about getting published, though that is the end-game of most, if not all, writers. As I am beginning to find out writing can be its own cathartic experience. So now, as I eat the last slice of Thomas’s Man U football cake he had for his tenth birthday,  trying to stop the metaphoric  crumbs  of time from slipping through my fingers, I type, something, anything, with a slight smile on my face.


this is a test blog

Right okay. If you are reading this any time soon, you’ve probably stumbled here by complete and utter accident and are wondering what the heck (or other more choice words) is this all about? Well to be frank tonight. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

It’s the internet equivalent of  stumbling into the kebab shop on a night out and thinking, “I don’t know how I got here, the content looks naff but hey ho, a donnar please, no salad.” Only to be told that all that’s left is the salad!  This is my first blog, and to be honest I am probably going to ramble an awful lot in the future about all sorts of random things, such as the desire to be a writer (though I wont be posting any plots ideas!), the odd photograph I shot and maybe general musings from all things as random as faith, banjo music and the general frustrations of being a family man to two polar opposite children and husband of a wife who was raised in the castle while I was raised in the woods.

I love all these things dearly by the way, but if you want any great insights to any of them, you’ve probably already realized you’ve come to the wrong blog. Hopefully the title may give a clue that I’m not going to be overtly deep about any of it. This really is an overspill from my facebook page when I post statuses that Tolstoy would be envious of. Hence the reason I have never mastered the art of tweeting!

The purpose of this first blog was really just to set it up, try it out. See what works and what doesn’t. It’s supposed to be free but I’ve had to fork out for the domain name. I thought it was catchy but obviously not very original as someone beat me to it and I’ve had to opt for onemanandhisblogblog, I think the extra blog has its own satisfying ring to it.

Anyway, this is shaping up to be like the solitary letter I wrote to one my best friends when he went to uni and all I did was talk about how good it was i had eventually gotten round to writing him a letter. He only ever got that one. Let’s hope there are a couple of you who read this and want to read more. I promise next time I’ll bring some donner meat.

So if you have stuck it out this long, you deserve some sort of reward. What better way than to reward you with a picture of a cute puppy running?  Everyone likes cute dogs so here’s one.