Honourable Mentions…

31 12 2008

As this years New Years Honours List is released to the public, so we get an opportunity to digest those deemed worthy by the Royal Family for knighthoods, or a variant of the BE award.

As I was returning from my wanderings around the Merry Hell Centre this lunch-time, I tuned into Jeremy Vine’s show on Radio 2. The topic under discussion was whether those who were given such honours actually deserved the award. It was an interesting question, especially given some of the people awarded. On the list were the likes of Lewis Hamilton (MBE), Rebecca Adlington (OBE) and Eleanor Simmonds (MBE). The BBC happily pronounces that “Sports stars lead New Years Honours”, as recognition for a successful Olympic games filters through to those who have decided upon the list.

I picked those three above as I think these most clearly indicate the counter-argument to the honours. Whilst it is undeniable that all three have had hugely successful years in their sporting disciplines, it is, I think, questionable as to whether they really deserve to be given such an award. All are under 25, indeed, Simmonds is just 14, yet all have been recognised, presumably “for services to sport” in this list. Chris Hoy has also been recognised, despite winning his first Olympic medal in 2004. Hoy has gone on to proving himself over the course of time in his sport. Sir Steven Redgrave was only knighted after winning his fifth gold medal. These people have proven themselves over the course of time in their disciplines. Hamilton, Adlington et al have yet to achieve such sporting dominance in their fields, despite success this year.

This is not the first time we have been quick to knight sports stars, the whole England cricket team were knighted after winning the Ashes in 2005, yet failed to follow up such a victory with any sort of dominance. The same happened with the England rugby team in 2003. As a nation we are keen to praise those who do well, and this is fine, but there is surely a limit to our praise? Surely people such as those mentioned above should be content to do well in their sport, and be rewarded with a knighthood if they maintain such performances?

Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of the idea of our honours system, I think it is right that people who work for the good of the nation get rewarded by the nation. Soldiers have always been honoured with medals for bravery. Doctors, nurses, and bin-men alike all help the country, yet when was the last time a bin-man got a knighthood? The trend of rewarding celebrities with knighthoods is a growing one it seems, and this seems somehow wrong.



16 12 2008

As 2008 draws towards its close, and various different polls pop up with the best or worst things from the year, I thought I too would add my thoughts as to the ‘best’ things from the year that was. There will be a ‘slated’ later in the week.

Best Film:-

The Dark Knight. Which is odd given I was really disappointed by the ending. There was a real opportunity to develop Two-Face into a serious bad-guy in a subsequent film but instead the writers and directors tagged an additional half an hour onto the end and killed him straight away. This aside, I think this film was pretty good, Ledger’s turn as the Joker was impressive, Bale has that cold calmness required of a Batman actor, and generally anything with Morgan Freeman should be considered good. Rumours abound of Johnny Depp playing the Riddler in the next film, which should be pretty impressive.

Best Album:-

Slipway Fires by Razorlight. I haven’t bought many albums this year, but this one has just been on repeat in my car pretty much since I got it. It might be a short album, but musically and lyrically I have to say I am loving the third offering from Borrell and co. Opening with Wire to Wire and closing with The House, the whole album is pretty damn good. Go get it if you haven’t already.

Best Single:-

Parallel Worlds by Elliot Minor. Played an awful lot by Kerrang, this song has something really catchy about it, be it the lyrics or the music. Well worth a listen, as is some of their other stuff.

Best Sporting Moment:-

There were a fair few this year, as SPOTY pointed out on Sunday (which I will admit I was wrong about).  For me though the sheer drama of Lewis Hamilton’s win in Brazil was second to nothing. It had everything you want from a good sporting contest, unpredictability, drama, tension, excitement. I’m not a huge fan of Formula 1 normally, but found myself glued to the TV screen as the race unfolded, biting my nails down to the knuckle.

Best News Story:-

This one. Having watched a repeat of Top Gear recently where this was highlighted, I then preceeded to have a discussion with my housemate about cameras. Fortunately for me, he doesn’t drive, so his argument of “if you weren’t breaking the law there would be no problem” held little weight.

Checkered Warnings…

5 11 2008

If you’ve had one eye on the news this week you will have seen how Lewis Hamilton won the F1 drivers championship in dramatic fashion in the last corners of the Brazillian Grand Prix. It was the first time a black person had won the championship.

Also, in America there was the small matter of an election. If you check many people’s facebook statuses you are likely to find out the outcome. Yup, that’s right Barack Obama fairly comprehensively beat John McCain to become the 44th President of the US of A. This election was different to Hamilton’s win, there was no dramatic comeback, no nail-biting moments as the Obama camp had pretty much controlled the race to the White House from start to finish. In all the analysis of the election victory, it is shown that Obama and his team got themselves ahead in the polls, and stayed there.

In the subsequent media overload Obama has captured the imagination of the world, nevermind America. The leftists have gushingly (and rather sickeningly) rushed to pronounce the saviour of world liberty. The right-wing in Britain have pointed to a new era of politician taking the helm.

All that is done and dusted now though. Here is where the real work begins. All the election work was good, but now Obama will be made by how he acts in relation to a few key matters, namely the economy, the war in Iraq, and global warming. These three have been discussed in varying amounts in the campaign, but, as they say, talk is cheap. There can be no illusions, this is the peak for Obama. It is all downhill from here. Now he is the public sweetheart, the apple of the eye of Americans, Brits, and Kenyans, apparently. Now he is on a high where the media love him. This cannot, and will not last. Once the media get their teeth into someone they can be painted however the media wants. Bush, for example, is still a buffoon, someone who cannot speak, write and is about as intelligent as a monkey. Yet he was clever enough to get himself elected now wasn’t he?

My point is that the media will soon fall out of love with Obama, unless he comes good on his promises. Even then situations may dictate that he may have to become the ‘bad guy’, or the ‘fall guy’. The old adage still stands true, what goes up must indeed come down. Obama is at the top now. The world are rejoicing at such a momentous occasion, as indeed this is. We should not get carried away though, and pretend that America has completely changed, there are still pockets of people (McCain voters) who are suspect of Obama due to skin colour. This is the legacy of history, and it will not be easily altered.

Whilst listening to the radio on the way to work I heard an interesting text message read out. It ran “Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk so Barack Obama could run so our children can fly.” This though I feel adequately reveals the problems still to be overcome. Running to flying was a hell of a leap. Many are still maintaining that he won because of his skin colour rather than his politics. I think this, to some extent perhaps rings true. Only time will tell how he will be judged. At the moment he can do no wrong. Some day soon he will have to do so by some.