The Year that shook the world 1968


The 1960’s was generally seen as the decade that brought about a lot of social change. However it was events in 1968 that made this more than apparent.   Indeed the generation gap between young and old had never been greater.

Many attribute this to the fact that the first grown up generation born during or just after the war. Critics believed that they were given a better insight into the events of the world thanks to radio and the new technology of television. Furthermore public education was becoming more widely attended and standardized. Added to which the world was becoming a much smaller place as people either mixed with people from different backgrounds or through television. It was a generation that was more self-aware and more united as a group than the generations before it.

Added to which this was the generation that was first brought up during the opening of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Consequently they were aware that a nuclear attack could end their world and consequently became more anti-war as a result.

There was also a big determination of equal rights throughout the 1960’s which also helped create this social movement. This was seen through the Civil rights movement and feminist movement.

In many respects it was an era of ideology of wanting to make the world a better and more equal one. Everything from music, fashion, and politics was seen as experimenting with something new and exciting. Even in the Eastern blocs there was focus for change. They too wanted a world of equality, free speech and something new from the lives of their Parents.

Although not all protests were successful it did bring around a change in social attitude and in many ways influenced the way we live in today. Below are some of the main protests of that year with the key at the bottom.

Prague Spring
Recently made First Secretary of the Czech Communist Party Dubcek wanted to bring in a wide range of policies which he ‘dubbed,’ ‘Socialism with a human face.’ Thus he launched an ‘action programme,’ of liberalisation including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, & movement as well federalizing the CSSR into two equal nations. The Soviets took a dim view of this as they feared it may weaken the Communist bloc during the Cold War. Consequently five countries from the Warsaw pact countries (Soviet Union, GDR, Bulgaria, Poland & Hungary sent in the tanks along with 200,000 troops entering the country. Despite protests the Soviets ensured that Dubcek was replaced by Husak to repeal the reforms with Dubcek given a job as a forestry official.

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Anti-war demo in Grosvenor Sq. gets heated
With the daily TV news beaming reports & graphic images of the US fighting the Viet. Cong into people’s living rooms, many people questioned the American involvement in the Vietnam War. Consequently protests (not just in the USA) but across the globe erupted with anti-war groups arranging demos. The trouble followed a rally in Trafalgar Square, when an estimated 10,000 demonstrated against US action in Vietnam.
Initially the mood at the rally was good-natured until the Police cordoned the US embassy in Grosvenor Square were the actress Vanessa Redgrave had earlier handed over a petition against the war.
Tensions rose as the crowd refused to back off and mounted Police charged at demonstrators. Bedlam then ensued as protestors broke through with a battle ensuing with the Police. Reports at the time spoke of protestors using their flags as spears by throwing them at the Police who in turn fought fiercely with protesters before finally dispersing them.


Black Civil Rights Movement
Following the assassination of leading civil rights activist Martin Luther King in April 1968, a wave of riots broke out most notably Louisville, Baltimore, Washington, & Chicago were the City’s Mayor ordered the Police to shoot anyone in the act of looting or committing arson. The death of King saw the American black power movement become more militant in their fight for civil rights. It was during this period that the Black Panthers rose quite prominently which started the slow change in trying to end racial discrimination in America. There was controversy in the 1968 Mexican Olympics when the two Black American athletes Tommie Smith & John Carlos gave the black power salute on the podium after winning gold and bronze respectively.


Anarchy French Style
Although the May protest of 68 could be deemed as a failure, the repercussions were seen as a water shed by the French. It saw a shift of Conservative morality to a more liberal morality which dominates French society today. The protest started out due to student protests of the political bureaucracy that controlled the Universities. Matters came to a head when the University of Paris was shut down by officials with the threatened expulsion of 7 students. On the 6th May over 20,000 students marched in protest towards Sorbonne University which had been closed by Police due to an earlier student protest. This turned into a full-scale riot with the Police’s heavy handedness making matters worse as the protest lengthened with the students getting support from the populous with large strikes and marches appearing to be bringing down the French Government to the point that the President De Gaulle had left the country. Instead workers returned back to work and De Gaulle won the following election in June.




Tet Offensive
The Viet Cong made what is now known as the Tet. Offensive and although the US and the South Vietnamese claimed victory it was the world-wide media coverage that changed American opinion of the Vietnam War. In 1965 the majority of American’s were in favour of the war but as coverage of the war and most notably the Tet offensive were broadcasting television reports (with some critics calling it a “living room war,”) to millions of Americans and even the world, people were shocked at the brutality of the conflict and for the first time questioned why the USA was involved in a war that was no threat to the US. A wave of anti-war protests broke out in America and the world, eventually leading to the US withdrawal in 1973. The legacy of the war in terms of media coverage ensured that future Governments kept a tight rein on what the press covered lest that there should be a backlash.

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dirzXb5i9= Socialism with a smile! angry man= Annoyed Soviet cold_war_pic_prague_russian_tanks_1968= Invasion

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maxresdefault= Fisticuffs imagesMTKTSW79= Let down untitled= Black Civil Rights Movement             imagesZW5R8RDS= Shock

428px-Red_flag_II.svg= Revolution vietnam helmet= Vietnam WarTV = Media coverage

!CDmOG9!CWk~$(KGrHqR,!iwE0FwCJVIbBNPIEEI2sQ~~_35= Black power salute















Apathy In the UK, We don’t need no education, & Atletico Madrid


Apathy In the UK

The recent Local and European elections saw all the major parties and UKIP claiming a victory of sorts. Labour declared that they had made significant gains which would win them the next election although polls predict they would be just short of a working majority. Meanwhile the Conservatives claim it was a decent result as Labour did not win enough of the vote as predicted. UKIP crowed that ‘the UKIP fox is in the Westminster hen-house.’ Needless to say they must have forgotten that a fox is seen as a shifty bastard with a hidden agenda but I digress. As for the Lib Dems, well it wasn’t all that some people did vote for them.

As always the truth is slightly different. Labour didn’t make the important gains needed to show that they are a force. The Conservatives votes and seats in the local elections were down whilst in the European elections they finished third behind Labour and UKIP.

Whilst UKIP despite talking about a ‘ruffling of feathers,’  gained no control of any local councils although they did make the most gains in the European elections. For the Lib Dems they were virtually wiped out and on this showing face near annihilation in next year’s election.

Despite all the analysis what seems to be overlooked is the actual turnout. Only just 36% bothered to vote in the local elections whilst in the European elections the figure was 34%.

On this basis nobody can claim any type of victory. Nearly 75% of the population did not bother to vote for any of these parties. It’s not just a case of people not being interested in politics but feeling completely disenfranchised.

Russell Brand in his interview with newsnight probably struck more of a chord when he stated that there was no difference between any of the major parties. They all have the same ideals and would be carrying out the same policies no matter who is in power.

This is precisely why people are turned off politics. Everything despite what happened with the banking crisis of 2008 is still all geared towards business. Austerity measures after all are seen as more to try and boost the economy.

For most people nothing is being done about the rising cost of living with wages remaining low. The rise of people using food banks is disturbing especially as some people are working all hours. Furthermore cuts to vital services and benefits are seeing people drop even further into poverty.

Job security is pretty grim with the rise of zero hour contracts and work fare on the increase. These are just some of the issues that the major parties are failing to address. It doesn’t help that  people think politicians are out of touch especially with the expenses scandal of recent times.

Much has been spoken about the 99% being ignored in favour of the rich 1% and it is certainly hard to argue against this opinion when the obsession is about how to remedy the economy for big business. It’s as though they think spreadsheets will feed people and improve living standards.

The electoral system needs a complete change to the first past the post. Proportional representation is something that should be considered. However the biggest challenge is that none of the major parties are offering any real alternatives. It still seems to be pretty much the same status quo. The only difference between the parties is the colour of the rosettes on their shiny suits.  Until the political system is changed and a party is prepared to represent the people and not the corporate businesses then the disillusionment will continue.  Indeed it could be argued that at present we just have a mirage of democracy.

Michael Gove ‘we don’t need no education.’

Once again Michael Gove shows himself to be narrow-minded by dropping US authors from the curriculum. Apparently he professes that he wants more focus on British authors particularly Dickens and Austen. As anyone who has read any of these tomes they are not exactly the easiest of works with some novels quite laborious.

It shouldn’t really matter were the author is from. Literature and indeed education as a whole is about opening people’s minds and allowing them to develop their own opinions. Reading such tomes as suggested by Gove is more likely to turn children off.

I wrote a while back on this blog about the perils of education is that you can be in danger of teaching how to pass an exam rather than understanding or even showing an appreciation of the subject. This to me is what will inevitable happen. The student will remember key themes and quotes to pepper the essay with rather than voicing a real opinion.

Cynics could argue that dropping the likes Harper Lee and Arthur Miller the Crucible is more to keep people ignorant rather than understanding the themes of prejudice and politics. I actually think Gove’s mindset is more old-fashioned in the sense that I believe Gove feels that English literature is being undermined by other foreign works. Furthermore I think there is an element of snobbery as the likes of Mice and Men is considered more childish by some critics.

Either way I think it is a depressing thing to do in terms of restricting literature. It should be about making it accessible and yes letting kids enjoy reading. Gove’s education policies are not about improvement but taking it back to were teaching rote is King.

Atletico Madrid gives hope

The Club side of the season has to be Atletico Madrid who have punched way above their weight in winning the La Liga and reaching the European Champions League Final. With Real Madrid and Barcelona vastly ahead of other La Liga sides in terms of money and resources it is an incredible achievement.

When Diego Simeone took charge Atleti were four points from the relegation places winning only five out of the sixteen games played. The first words that Simeone talked about was that Atletico was not about the individual but was for the club and the collective. Everybody had to work hard for the collective good.

These words were certainly taken on board as Atleti finished fifth and won the Europa League in 2012. The following season they won the Copa Del Rey beating Real Madrid and finishing third in the League.

This season the aim was a top four finish with many tipping Atletico as dark horses to win the Champions League. Whereas the league was largely considered to be between Real Madrid and Barcelona due to the gulf in resources between the two clubs and the rest of La Liga.

Atletico’s tactics is more of a counter-attacking style. Furthermore they normally wear teams down and as a result  ensure that they take advantage. Even half way through the season nobody not even the majority of Atleti’s fans expected Atletico to remain top. After all they have a relatively small squad and with European Cup football it was expected to take its toil.

Somehow though Atletico kept themselves up there although admittedly they did look like they were running out of steam. At times they were patching Diego Costa up who quite clearly wasn’t fit in both the Barcelona game and the Champions League final. This could also be said of Turan who had problems with his groin.

Nevertheless they managed to find some energy in the tank to snatch a draw at the Nou Camp to win the title against all odds. It was a well deserved title as Atletico were the best and most consistent team in La Liga.

Consequently they entered the Champions League Final with nothing to lose. A win would make this team immortal in Atletico’s history but even a defeat wouldn’t put a dent in a fantastic season.

As it was a scrappy goal from Godin (who incidentally had scored the equaliser against Barcelona) almost won the European Cup for Atleti who were two minutes away from victory. However Atleti’s legs had gone and they were holding onto the ropes until Ramos equalised. The 4-1 score line after extra time didn’t really reflect the result as Atleti didn’t have enough left in the tank.

Jamie Redknapp wrongly labelled Atleti as anti tika taka. Although their style is different nor is it a negative style. Atleticio know how to take teams apart when they are given the chance but also play to their strengths. The fact of the matter was they were running low on energy.

Personally apart from Souness I would have preferred having the Revista De La Liga team with Scott Minto, Graham Hunter, Terry Gibson and Guillem Balague who have more knowledge on Spanish football.

Either way Atletico have given other clubs hope such as Liverpool that with an excellent coach and a good team willing to work hard that you can win a major league, despite the obscene wealth of some teams. Personally it was a breath of fresh air to see someone else outside of Barca and Madrid win the league.


Brian Benjamin

Poetry In Motion


‘If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing.’ So said Bill Shankly who brutally made it clear about what Liverpool and being a winner is about. However this would be quite harsh on Liverpool this season. They punched way above their weight and almost pulled it off.

In many respects if this was a Hollywood movie it would be the tale of a faded former Champion boxer who has seen better days. Fondly remembered by rivals but seen as a relic of the past. Slowly but surely the faded boxer suddenly starts to show form and looks ready to put in a challenge to become a Champion once more.

Old rivals start to sneer that the hero won’t last the pace although they won’t admit that the early encounters have shocked them. Then comes the challenge with the hero trading blows and looking to resume old glories and get back on their perch.

Maybe if Liverpool was a blockbuster film they might have won the league with virtually the last second of the game. Instead Liverpool follows the first Rocky film and just misses out on becoming a Champion.

What can’t be argued is that Liverpool have played some of the best football since that glorious late eighties team of John Barnes, Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge. They blew Arsenal, Everton, Spurs, and Norwich completely out of the water. At times the frantic pace was frightening as they tore the opposition apart.

The game against Everton at Anfield was probably the most one-sided Derbies that I have seen. As was the three-nil win away to Manchester United. Sometimes at the match I have had to pinch myself to make sure that I was not dreaming.

On top of that you tried not to get too carried away knowing that it will hurt even more if we do mess up. Instead we got closer and closer to the prize as we avoided any potential booby traps.

Man City was seen as the pivotal game and in many respects it was, as victory would see the League resting in our own hands. As per usual this season Liverpool got off the blocks fast. Sterling who was playing in the number ten role just behind Suarez and Sturridge was instrumental for Liverpool in this game. Finding acres of space, Sterling drove forward in possession which resulted in the goal scored by Skrtel. He also gave Liverpool a fantastic start by scoring in the sixth minute. Furthermore Sterling wasn’t adverse to drifting to the flanks causing more problems for City and Sturridge missing a great chance.

If the first half was a blitzkrieg start for Liverpool then the second half was different with City suddenly finding themselves back in it. Milner who came on as a substitute appeared to make the difference. It was as though the frantic energy of Liverpool was beginning to wane as Silva strove forward and pulled one back for City and five minutes later Johnson had scored an own goal.

At that moment in time if one team was more likely to find the winner then that would be City. Liverpool grimly held on until out of nowhere they found a sucker punch to floor City as a Coutinho shot went past Hart to win the game for Liverpool.

The belief or should I say the relief as well was monumental at the end. Indeed I thought the fella next to me was having a heart attack as we appeared to visible wilt. There were hugs and joy echoing throughout the stadium.

Adrenaline was now kicking in as that raw electric excitement reverberated around the stadium. Added to which it had been an emotional day as the 25th anniversary of Hillsborough was remembered.

With the League very much in our hands it seemed so unreal, so unexpected that we could unexpectedly be Champions.


As the season drew to its climatic end the atmosphere at Anfield was a wall of noise, songs, and colour as the support done it’s best to get behind the team. This incidentally was from when the team coach arrived to the final whistle.

If there is one thing that I have enjoyed from this season is the fact that I looked forward to going the games once again. It was nice to saviour that old excitement that you get when chasing a Championship. I might have been a school kid when we last won the league back in 1990 but there was always that conscious feeling of not getting carried away. On top of this the football was fantastic to watch as the team gave it’s all.

As did the supporters with loud songs of ‘we are Liverpool, tra, la, la, la, la. We’re the best football team in the land.  Yes we are!  Poetry in motion, tra, la, la, la, la.’  It became the chant of the season as it summed up the football that was being played.

Furthermore it was great to see people inside the ground early with the atmosphere brewing up nicely with the flags etc.   The frenetic passionate energy soared throughout the ground as everybody got behind the team as we urged and wanted Liverpool to win that 19th title.  It was nice to be part of that and the 2013/14 will be always hold fond memories despite not winning a trophy.  Yes it will be a mix of warmth nostalgia swirling around my soul mixed with the uncomfortable fact that we were that close but it was a rollercoaster of a ride that brought out every emotion.  It was exciting and the football was out of this world.  What the future holds we don’t know.  Nevertheless it has made us dream and believe once again.


This was always going to be a tough game as they always are against a team that is managed by Mourinho. Even a draw would have been a decent result providing that we won the next two games away to Palace and at home to Newcastle.

It was inevitable that Chelsea would play deep and pack the midfield. After all in previous games Liverpool normally got off the blocks so for them it made sense to nullify any threat by limiting the space in the middle of the park.

For whatever reason, Liverpool just couldn’t get into the flow of the game. In other words Chelsea did a job on us. They capitalised on the mistake made by Gerrard and caught Liverpool on the break as Torres squared to Willian to make it two.

Much was spoken about Chelsea parking the bus but really it is in Mourinho’s genes. Ultimately for him it’s about getting the result and not how well you play to get it. I’m not going to dwell on Gerrard’s mistake. Yes it was costly but a league title is decided over 38 games.

Do we point to other games with missed chances or games were Liverpool dropped points at home when on paper they should have won? Remember Liverpool were beaten by Southampton and drew with Villa.

Chelsea defended well and nullified the attack as we made sloppy, anxious passes as the clock wound down.  It wasn’t pretty but tactically I am sure Mourinho was pleased.  Everything went to plan and Chelsea grabbed the three points.

The Crystal Palace game saw Liverpool crash in spectacular style. 3-0 up and cruising with twelve minutes left and then they suddenly went to pieces as Palace salvaged a draw. It meant that City only needed at least four points at home against Villa and West Ham. Suarez was inconsolable as our title dreams were cruelly smashed against the rocks.

Inevitable City beat Villa and West Ham. Liverpool played as though they still had a hangover from the last couple of games as they came back from a goal down to beat Newcastle 2-1. There was no Hollywood ending, instead we just fell short despite having more points than when we last won the league.

Of course it was disappointing and in some ways it still hurts to think that we were that close to being Champions again against all odds. However let’s not forget that the aim at the beginning of the season was to challenge for a top four finish and hopefully win one of the domestic cups.

With that in mind Liverpool have more than exceeded expectations in the league. They have played some of the best football and it was poetry in motion at times. .

Above all there is optimism. Brendan Rodgers has proved himself as a top coach who has got the best out of this squad. Take Henderson who has come on leaps and bounds since we first signed him a couple of years ago. This could be said of Sterling who will hopefully keep building on his potential. Then there is Gerrard who has adopted the role of a deep-lying midfielder and was instrumental in the victories this season.

Of course next season will be different and we have been here before in 2002 and 2009 when we finished runners-up. The following season’s were more than disappointing to say the least. However this is Rodger’s second season in charge and it is still a work in progress.

The squad needs bulking up and I’d say we need at least five players to improve the team which means spending well. Apart from Mignolet the other signings have not really made any impact. Aspas and Alberto have only made cameo appearances as substitutes whilst Sakho has visibly struggled in defence and Cissokho not looking that good.

Rodgers has admitted that defensively we have not been great and we certainly need to close down opponents more effectively and defend better at set pieces.  Take the Norwich game for example we were practically holding on to the win until the end with relief when the final whistle went.

Furthermore next season more teams will try to copy Chelsea which means bringing in players to give us more options whether it’s out wide or having more legs in midfield. With Henderson suspended after the City game we sorely missed that expertise of his game.

Defence might be something else to look at as well as the possibility of another striker but is important to sign quality rather than the next Bruno Cheyrou.

Nevertheless we have every right to be optimistic. Look at Atletico Madrid. Last year they finished third in the league and this year at the time of writing only need a point to clinch the title and have a European Cup final against Madrid to look forward to.

If we can improve our team there is no reason why we can’t match Atletico who against all odds have slugged it out with Barcelona and Real Madrid who have bigger resources than them. After all Rocky eventually won his title and maybe next year Liverpool will claim that 19th title.

Either way I have loved every minute of this season. Watching Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling, and Gerrard just to name but a few has been a joy to watch. Yes we just missed out but there is still plenty to look forward to and despite what the critics say they cannot deny that we have been poetry in motion.

Brian Benjamin


Even better than the real thing


Cover versions of favourite songs can be an abomination to the original artist that in some cases you’ll wake up in a rage. However there are some artists that have bucked this trend and in some cases surprised people that they did not write it in the first place.

All along the watchtower by Jimi Hendrix (originally by Bob Dylan)

Let’s face it when you hear ‘All along the watchtower,’ you instantly associate the song with Jimi Hendrix. From the opening riff as Jimi sings ‘there must be somewhere out of here…’ you are dragged into the raw energy of the track as the loud guitar and vocals strike a chord.

Of course Bob Dylan wrote the song and although his version isn’t bad, Jimi’s sounds like the finished article. Maybe it was Jimi’s superior guitar playing but either way he caught the spirit of the song that it sounds more Hendrix than Dylan.

Hurt by Johnny Cash (originally by Nine Inch Nails)

From the sombre opening of Johnny Cash’s ‘hurt,’ you can already sense the pain and emotion as Cash suddenly spills forth his soul. Every note and solemn word by Johnny Cash is a confession of his darkest thoughts and regret. When Cash sings ‘the needle tears a hole,’ you can literally feel that tight sting as the needle penetrates your skin.

Maybe it’s the grave voice of Cash and the way the music builds up slowly as you feel the uncomfortable baring of a person’s feelings until it suddenly bursts forth with the piano’s note every blow that he feels right to the end.

Trent Reznor who originally wrote the song stated his opinion on Cash’s version ‘I pop the video in, and wow… Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps… Wow. ( I felt like) I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore.’

When the Levee breaks by Led Zeppelin (original version Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie)

This was originally an old blues classic released in 1929 by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie in response to the Great Mississippi flood of 1927.

Led Zeppelin who were no strangers to adapting or covering old blues songs decided to do their own on take this classic.

Everything from Plant’s vocals, the harmonica and the guitar solos all add to the ingredients of making this an awesome song.  However the vital element is John Bonham’s drumming which is the spine and driving point of this track.  At times you can feel yourself drudging through a flooded town.

Apparently Jimmy Page had been working on a riff and had placed Bonham’s drums at the stairwell at Headley Grange, and recorded it using two microphones at the top, which gave it that distinctive but slightly muffled sound.

Needless to say Led Zeppelin’s innovative take on ‘When the Levee Breaks,’ ensured that it became a rediscovered classic and took the original song to another level.

By the way for those interested here is the original version.

The man who sold the world by Nirvana (originally by David Bowie)

Back in the days when MTV was an actual music channel they had a series called unplugged. The idea being that a band would be stripped to its bare essentials and play songs acoustically. Nirvana were invited on to the show in November 1993 and gave one of the most memorable and seminal performances in the history of the programme.

One of the standout songs was Nirvana’s version of David Bowie’s ‘the man who sold the world.’ From the instant opening chords it caught the sombre mood which was emphasised by Kurt Cobain’s vocals. Like all good music it took hold of your emotions as you could feel the melancholy of the song.

In some ways the Nirvana version made it seem more alive than David Bowie’s own take of his song. No mean feat incidentally but ‘the man who sold the world,’ sounds as though it was made for Nirvana.

With a little help from my friends by Joe Cocker (originally by the Beatles)

There are not many artists out there who have managed to do a decent cover of a Beatles song never mind make it their own. Joe Cocker though managed to take an okay song and make it even better.

In essence, Cocker put more meat on ‘a little help from my friends,’ by giving it a more Gospel, Soul sound to his version. As soon as you hear the slow instrumental you are aware that this is going to be unique.

There is more power and emotion from Joe Cocker’s voice with the backing gospel vocals giving a superior sound to the Beatles original song. Jimmy Page incidentally also had a hand with this version by playing guitar as did Procol Harum’s B.J. Wilson on drums.

Once again it is an example of a powerful song that clutches your heart as soon as you hear the opening lines.

Only love can break your heart by St Etienne (originally by Neil Young)

This choice might be heresy for some die-hard Neil Young fans but nevertheless I still think it’s a fantastic cover. Don’t get me wrong I love Neil Young’s song but St Etienne have at least made the effort of trying to do something distinctive with it rather than just copy it.

Whereas Neil Young’s original song is folksy there is a European chic feel to the St. Etienne version. Furthermore Moira Lambert’s haunting vocals gives it a nice twist as she reminisces about a past love. Added to which the house style influence and the mournful playing of the keyboard gives it a touch of past regrets and makes the St. Etienne version is unique in itself.

Brian Benjamin

Who killed Joffrey? Game of Thrones


So who was it that done Joffrey? Was it Littlefinger, Olenna Tyrell, Tyrion, Tywin, or someone else lurking in the shadows?

Let’s face it Joffrey wasn’t short of enemies. After all bullying, humiliating, and torturing were his main hobbies, consequently there were no tears apart from Cersei when he breathed his last.

So let’s have a butcher’s as Ray Winstone’s spinning head would say on a certain betting advert.

Petyr Baelish aka ‘Littlefinger,’

At present there is no real motive as to why Littlefinger would whack Joffrey. After all he is was the Master of Coin and carries a lot of influence within the Court. However there is no denying that he arranged for Sansa to leave Kings Landing rather sharpish. Furthermore Littlefinger took no chances as he had Dontos killed to ensure his silence despite delivering Sansa as promised.

Whether Petyr Baelish  is responsible is debatable but there is suspicion in the manner in how he aided Sansa Stark, that indicates he could be an accomplish or knew of such a plot.

Prince Oberyn

From the moment that he first set eyes on Tyrion, Oberyn Martell makes it quite clear that he not only holds the Lannister’s responsible for the rape and murder of his sister Elia but despises them. ‘It’s not only the Lannister’s that pay their debts,’ He warns Tyrion.

To add more weight to the argument Oberyn is quite an expert in poisoning after studying in the subject. So it could be argued what better way than to get revenge by murdering a relation of the Lannister’s on what should be a happy family celebration of a wedding.

However it is probably unlikely that it is Oberyn. Firstly he seems to be the type that would openly smite his enemy rather than carrying out the shifty act of poisoning. Secondly and more importantly he has a cast iron alibi. Namely that he was too busy shagging in his mass orgies to have found the time. After all apart from attending the wedding, Oberyn has spent the rest of his time in the bedroom.

Olenna Tyrell

No doubt the Westeros bookies favourite. Wily, savvy, and politically clever Olenna certainly knows how to play the Game of Thrones. Furthermore would you really want your granddaughter marrying the sadist and psycho that was Joffrey? On top of this Olenna might believe that the throne is not safe with Joffrey as King. After all Joffrey’s brother Tommen now claims the throne. Olenna also knows that the throne is badly in need of money and still need to keep the Tyrell’s sweet. Getting rid of Joffrey would ensure that her Granddaughter Margaery’s life would not be miserable whilst still ensuring that a Tyrell still sat on the throne.

Tyrion Lannister

Tyrion has been the only one to openly stand up against his spoilt and petulant nephew. He did give him a slap and advised him that King’s were dropping dead like flies. Added to this was the threat he gave to Cersei ‘a day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth.’

The thing is Tyrion is firmly proud and loyal to his family despite the battle with his sibling. He might think that Joffrey is an awful King and a despicable person but would stop short of kin slaying. On top of this Tyrion was fundamental in keeping Joffrey as King, as he helped thwart the invasion of Stannis Baratheon. To add further weight to his defence Tyrion is too smart to be still standing around the scene holding the cup that his nephew drank from. As he admitted to Pod he would have ensured that he wasn’t in a cell clasped in chains.

Varys or ‘The spider’

The stability and what is best for the seven Kingdoms is what drives Varys. The evidence of this is his conversations with Ned Stark and Tyrion in previous episodes.

Does Varys have faith in Joffrey being a wise and just ruler? Or does he think the recent victory against Stannis and the murder of Robb Stark will just paper over the cracks of a sadistic, despot of a King who might rival Aerys Targaryen in the cruel ruler’s stake? Maybe Varys is thinking of the long-term and that it won’t be long before the Kingdom is in upheaval once more and that it might be worth taking a punt on Joffrey’s much younger and more tolerant brother Tommen. Either way if you fancy an outside bet then maybe Varys is your man.

Cersei Lannister

Queen bitch she may be but as Tyrion observes she does love her children. Despite Joffrey being a little monster there is no way Cersei would murder her eldest son. After all Cersei was the only one that was blind to Joffrey’s faults.

Tywin Lannister

Ever the realist maybe Tywin believes that the throne under Joffrey would just be too unstable and would result in his Grandson being overthrown and consequently the Lannister’s losing their grip on the Iron Throne. Added to which it also rids him of his embarrassing son Tyrion.

Tywin it has to be said was pretty quick in grooming Joffrey’s successor Tommen by tutoring him in front of his hardly cold brother’s body that a wise King makes a good ruler.

Even so would Tywin really kill one of his own? After all Tywin seems pretty sure of his own ability to control Joffrey and seemed to be the real ruler behind the throne. It could also be argued that if Tywin was capable of slaying his own then Tyrion would have been killed at birth. As it was Tyrion was lucky to have been born a Lannister and was allowed to live.

The pigeon

Maybe people are looking into it too much and it may have been a big of piece of pigeon that did for Joffrey. Maybe it was just a nasty accident that happened to a cruel person. For now though Westeros believes it is the cruel and evil imp Tyrion that is responsible. Unfortunately for Tyrion he is up to his neck in it and he will need more than his wits to get himself out of this particular scrape.

Elsewhere in episode three, Arya and the Hound are still on their trek. An act of kindness by a farmer who puts the pair up for the night, results in the Hound duffing him up and taking his gold. Arya is furious but the Hound yells that they are weak and will soon be dead.

Jon Snow is advising the Black Watch that the wildlings are getting ready to attack Castle Black and to start preparing the defences. The Thenn’s are certainly not taking any prisoners. In fact after their recent massacre it appears that a barbecue is on hand rather taking captives.

Daenerys in the meantime watches Daario take part in a pissing competition on her behalf as she aims to set more slaves free. Either way there is a lot more to come in Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones – Season 4


After the shock and horror of the Red Wedding it seems as though there is some sort of peace in Westeros. Tywin Lannister certainly seems to think so as he re-forges Ned Stark’s Valyrian sword and gives it to his son Jaime. Of course he expects Jaime to do his duty and go back to Casterly Rock and rule in his place.  Jaime though says no (no doubt he wants to be close to his sister) with Tywin not amused at being refused by his son and tells him to keep the sword as a ‘one handed man with no family needs all the help that he can get.’

’Kids, hey Tywin. There never what you hope them to be.

Poor old Tyrion is back in his Father’s shadows and equally there is nothing down for his love Shae. Not after one of Cersei’s servants overhears the pair.

Still despite Cersei giving Jaime the cold shoulder, he does seem to be getting closer to his brother as he discreetly arranges for Bronn to help train Jaime with his left hand. Bronn assures him that there is no chance of them being discovered as he shagged someone’s wife there and say’s ‘let me tell you she was a bit of a screamer.’

Sansa is still in shock over her family and is offered a piece of pigeon pie to cheer her up. Although she turned her nose up it may have brought a smile to her face in episode two.

Bran is still wandering about but has been having visions and taking over his wolf despite the obvious dangers of forgetting who is. However the three eyed crow tells him to head up North.  So decides to head up there with his crew.

The Martell’s of Dorne make their first appearance with Prince Oberyn visiting for Joffrey’s wedding. I quite like the Dornish in Martin’s books and Pedro Pascal who plays Oberyn doesn’t disappoint.  Strong and emotional characters, Dorne would actually be a place I would like to visit if it was real.  Apparently the wine is also good as well.

On top of which they are an open-minded lot in Dorne as Oberyn takes his pick of male and female prostitutes. Furthermore he’s not a fan of the Lannister’s after the murder and rape of his sister. When Tyrion welcomes him, Oberyn informs him that ‘it’s not only the Lannister’s that pay their debts.’

Back to the wall

‘You really ought to try crow.’ The cannibal Styr informs Ygritte as the Wildlings meet the Thenns. With friends like them who need enemies, especially when they might throw you on the fire and literally roast you. Anyhow if they take the wall there literally will be ‘a feast of crows.’

Jon Snow has found himself back on the wall as he confesses and explains why he broke his vows. Despite a couple of rumblings from Snow’s enemies he is believed as they get ready for the Wilding horde.

Part of me wants the Wildlings to succeed. They don’t bow the knee to anyone and everyone is equal. Maybe Jon Snow should have ditched his vows and helped them take Castle Black but as Ygritte say’s ‘you know nothing, Jon Snow.’

In the meantime Daenerys dragons are not only getting bigger but slightly tetchy and stroppy. If Daenerys isn’t careful and doesn’t show a firm hand to her children then they just might get a bit spoilt and we’ve all seen what happened to Joffrey.

Daenerys seems to have taken a shine to Daario but this this is quickly forgotten as they see crucified children as they march towards Meereen.  It is not the wisest of ideas for those responsible, especially as Daenerys has her dragons and has taken retribution in the past.

Ayra and the Hound

The most interesting relationship is the unlikely alliance with Ayra and the Hound. Despite the loathing Ayra has, the pair bond more through necessity. Despite the Hound being a psychopath I do like some of his qualities. For starters he’s honest that he’s a killer and doesn’t dress up that being a soldier is about killing people. None of this knight in white armour stuff with the Hound.

Anyhow Ayra manages to get some type of revenge as she kills Polliver who had murdered her injured friend Lommy. ‘Can you walk?’ Ayra reminds him as she reclaims her sword needle and brutally finishes him off.

Ramsey the sadist

Ramsey Snow continues his sadist streak by chasing and murdering a girl through the woods. As I’ve said in a previous blog, Martin has overdone it with Ramsey. Not only does he become a cardboard character but you become immune to his sadism.

There seems to be a certain theme with Martin in terms of Father/son relationships as Roose Bolton is not too impressed with his bastard son at breaking Theon. Maybe Tywin and Roose ought to meet up for a pint or two to discuss their children and take a break away from their dastardly plans.

Stannis plots

Back at Dragonstone, Stannis is brooding like a Read Madrid fan in trying to win that elusive tenth European Cup. Melisandre the Priestess of R’hllor along with Stannis’s wife Selyse act as though they are in a weird, mad cult by burning people in tribute to the Lord of Light. Davos is the only one who has a sane voice amongst the lust of madness.

The purple wedding

Finally, onto Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding. The Groom behaved like the petulant spoilt brat that he was as he done his best to humiliate and act like a prick throughout. Despite the awkward squirming of guests over the mock re-enactment of the battle of the five Kingdoms, Joffrey laps it. As per usual he comes second best when trying to mock his Uncle Tyrion so proceeds to try to humiliate him by pouring wine over him and making him his cup-bearer.

Thankfully for Tyrion who refuses to bend the knee, the pigeon pie is brought with Joffrey bravely cutting it to allow pigeons to fly out. After taking a mouthful, he seems to choke and it becomes obvious as he breathes his last that old Joffrey has been poisoned, probably by the wine rather than choking on a pigeon. Personally I thought Martin missed a trick as with all the sex in Game of Thrones, Joffrey should have choked on a poisoned sausage.

Anyhow poor old Margaery has lost another husband and is fast gaining a reputation as the black widow of Westeros. Tyrion’s luck takes a turn for the worst as he’s clasped in chains and accused of murdering his nephew. Never mind I’m sure Oberyn will be able to help him out.

Admittedly it has been a slow start to the series but it’s bubbling away nicely and it’s still one of the best things on TV especially as there will be more to come.


Brian Benjamin

Britpop and nostalgia, plus the race for the Premiership


It’s twenty years since the era of ‘Britpop.’ This of course has led to nostalgic reminisces mainly from BBC six music about the period and what it meant for Indie music.

Of course for some people it’s the soundtrack of their youth and certain tracks or bands will bring back fond memories. However it could be argued that it was a scene created by journalists and marketing officials of record companies. Added to which was the rise of ‘laddism,’ with the launch of men’s magazines such as Loaded.

For some reason this was tied in with the music of the time as well as providing a soundtrack to the Mockney, cartoon, gangster, Guy Ritchie films such as ‘Lock, stock, and two smoking barrels.’ In many ways Britpop was about nostalgia itself as it yearned back to the late 1960’s and tried to portray itself as a modern Austin Power era.

In many ways one of the fashionable drinks at the time alcopops perfectly summed up the period. A soft drink pretending that it was hard and not quite as nice to drink despite the attractive advertisement.

As with many periods there is quite a lot of dross that populated the charts but there are always bands that still stand the test of the time. The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, The Smiths, Sex Pistols, to name but a few are examples of bands from the sixties to the eighties that stood out.

Despite being one of the biggest bands during the 90’s Oasis sound more dated than the influences that they blatantly imitated. Listening to some of Oasis’s track such as ‘champagne supernova,’ sounds like a self-indulgent, long-winded track.

‘Rock n roll star,’ sounds very tired and dare I say it boring. ‘Peel away the sticker over ‘shakermaker,’ and you’ll find the song ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing,’ whilst ‘Cigarettes and alcohol,’ is a blatant rip off of T-Rex ‘get it on.’

At the time when Definitely Maybe was released I never really got the appeal. It was just an average Indie rock album with nothing that particularly stood out. Listening to it  now and the follow-up album ‘What’s the story?’ it sounds very tired and old hat. Ironically the few tracks that I don’t mind mainly appear on the Masterplan B side’s album with ‘talk tonight,’ and ‘half the world away.’

If I’m being cruel I’d say Oasis is today’s ‘Dad’s rock album.’ You can see Dad packing the kids into the car for a day trip as he excitedly throws on his best of Oasis album. The kids start to grimace as Dad shouts over the nasal whine of Liam, ‘that this is real music and not the rubbish of today.’ By the time Dad starts to bellow out the busker’s and karaoke favourite ‘Wonderwall,’ they will be on the phone to the NSPCC citing torture.

Blur to me were more musically talented and a lot of their tracks still stand out. ‘For tomorrow,’ ‘Tracy Jacks,’ ‘End of a Century,’ and ‘to the end,’ are still fantastic songs. ‘Modern life is rubbish,’ ‘Parklife,’ albums may have some tracks that are slightly dated or naff (more of which I’ll come to later) but the majority are still strong.

The album ‘blur,’ shows the new direction that they took with a new lo-fi feel to it. If anything it was probably Blur’s best album.

This though doesn’t excuse the truly awful songs that epitomised Brit Pop. Even now I feel the rage slowly building up when I hear the opening of ‘Country House,’ ‘Parklife,’ and ‘Girls & Boys.’ Blur will never be forgiven by me for producing such dirge.

Pulp were another band that produced some good tracks. ‘Common People,’ ‘mis-shapes,’ ‘sorted for E’s and whizz,’ are songs that still sound okay on the radio.

Supergrass are a band who matured well once you get past ‘alright,’ but then thinking about it they were responsible for pumping on your stereo, Grace, and caught by the fuzz. However ‘In it for the money,’ is a good album whilst the ‘road to Rouen,’ which came much later in the noughties stands out as a first class album.

Equally the Super Furry Animals still stand out with each album showing their strengths as artists. ‘Guerrilla,’ and ‘Mwng,’ are two outstanding albums with tracks such as Demons from Radiator and ‘If you don’t want me to destroy you,’ from Fuzzy Logic showed their talent for song writing.

However most of Brit Pop was pretty rubbish. ‘Ocean Colour Scene,’ ‘Cast,’ and Dodgy produced some bland imitation of rock whilst ripping off much better artists from the sixties.

The Boo Radley’s and Menswear were just so appalling that they should have been banned. Personally I still feel that awful nausea that you get after with a hangover when I hear the naff, chirpy strains of ‘Wake up Boo.’

Kula Shaker was another dreadful band although embarrassingly I bought their album ‘K,’ which I felt, was fantastic at the time. It’s only trying to listen to it now that I realise how pretentious and bad the album was.

Although Elastica had plenty of attitude, their songs were just too influenced by punk and in particular the Stranglers. ‘Waking up,’ is such a blatant rip off of ‘no more heroes,’ that it was hardly a surprise that the Stranglers took them to Court. Consequently even at the time I’d rather listen to the original source who were better.

Admittedly there are some songs from that era that I don’t really mind. Sleepers ‘Inbetweener,’ Garbage ‘Only happy when it rains,’ are well crafted songs with the Divine Comedy’s ‘something for the weekend,’ are also pretty decent.

I also like Mansun’s ‘taxloss,’ but this may have something to do with the video where the band threw £25,000 worth of fivers across Liverpool Street station. All you see is people swooping in like a tourist throwing bread for the pigeons. Furthermore I quite like the sentiment behind it.

Nevertheless music is judged by how good it is and also whether it can stand the test of time. Most of Britpop doesn’t hold up to it and that was even during the nineties.

Quite simply the music wasn’t that great with only Blur, Supergrass, and the Super Furry Animals evolving and showing the talent that they had.

Maybe it was fun for those that were involved but I always thought Britpop was false and all about image. It was just too ‘Mockney,’ for me, where it was okay to be a prick if you followed that laddism culture. For some strange reason it also wallowed in nostalgia itself as it harked back to an Austin Powers Britain that never was. Perhaps that’s why I’m not wallowing in this reminiscing of Britpop despite growing up in it.

The race for the title


I have to admit like many other Liverpool supporters I never thought we would be challenging for the title at the start of the season. In fact I was just looking at trying to get into the top four and hopefully win one of the domestic cups.

Despite what some journalists say it is not a given that Liverpool will win it. Equally I am also aware as are countless others, that Chelsea are still very much in it as are Man City. Reporters such as Amy Lawrence (someone who I normally respect) shrieking the obvious about Chelsea still having a chance. Are they hoping if Chelsea win the league they will be seen as an Oracle? Either way, it’s a ‘no shit Sherlock,’ statement to make.

This season though has been like a dream and its credit to Brendan Rodgers coaching skills and the players that we have come so far. In fact we have been ‘poetry motion!’ The atmosphere at the match has been fantastic with people getting in early and indeed it is a bit like old times.

Naturally there is a sense of tension as the season draws to an end. Indeed I thought the fella next to me was having a heart attack after we went two up against Man City. The excitement is there for each game but nobody as far as I am aware is taking it as a given that Liverpool will win the league.

In fact as I write this I can already feel the nerves prior to Sunday’s game against Norwich. It’s a mixture of excitement, anticipation, and worry about getting a result. In short it’s about trying not to get too carried away as any disappointment always hurts more. At the same time though you want to enjoy it and let’s face it, it will have been a fantastic season as the football has been a joy to watch this season. However if we can get through the nerves and show our full support for the Reds, who knows we could be Champions for the nineteenth time!

Brian Benjamin