Monthly Archives: August 2013

A Slow Start — Fantasy Football

Like the sales of my book, Stones of Judgment (see below for more details), Belle’s Babes got off to a slow start. I did manage more points that I have sales for the novel — but that is not hard! I picked Lukaku as captain and though he put in a spirited 35 minutes or so over two games, he didn’t deliver the goods — just four measly points.

I have some catching up to do and some team changes to make. I will think about this tonight ahead of Week 2, which starts at 12.35pm tomorrow. 

I did spend more time watching football than actually thinking about picking my players. First at Loftus Road, where it was brought home how long the season is going to be for Ipswich. They have a super skill deficit to overcome and I am not sure how that will happen. Gabriel, who Ms. Moneypenny of the FT would refer to as CC#2, and I sat among the QPR faithful who, to be fair, didn’t rate their team either until the 90th minute when they scored and sent three quarters of the crowd home happy. 

On Wednesday night we headed to Stamford Bridge for our first glimpse of Chelsea live. It was a balmy evening. An early goal (OG following loads of pressure) looked to set Chelsea on the way for a easy win but somehow all the midfield possession didn’t quite end up as a threat when it reached the 18 yard box, not for want of trying. Aston Villa took the initiative five seconds (I kid you not because I counted) before half time as Benteke slotted in what looked like an impossible shot. We were sitting way down the other end, which put us at a disadvantage in the second half as Chelsea was attacking away from us.

Ivanovic is a stalwart of both Belles Babes and Chelsea: he got me 15 points in Week One and secured three for Chelsea on Wednesday night. A thundering header from the middle of the six yard box off a great delivery from a free kick by Lampard. Lukaku had won the foul. No points for that for Fantasy Football.

So onwards and I hope upwards as far as the Pigeon Wing league table is concerned. I am languishing in 13th place but I have £2m in the bank and a few ideas. I will write more on why this is a good use of my time after Week 2. 



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Fantasy Football — Countdown begins

Though my son has already made his team, mine is still a work in progress. Belle’s Babes (highest position: second in league a few seasons back) have changed strip this year to reflect my love of blue (Ipswich and Chelsea) rather than the version of gold, which was what I had aimed for in years past to represent the Belle in the name (family pet – golden retriever, sleeping at the end of my bed as I write).

So what does work in progress mean: an attempt by me to fit as many top scoring players in the team as possible alongside some possible dark horses (Hull, Cardiff, Crystal Palace). In year’s past I have shunned Man U. players because of my antipathy towards the team and its manager. This year with a new manager and my previous two year’s dismal performance I have decided to relent and put Van Persie up front (at least for now). I’ve still got more Chelsea players though. 

Any tips welcome. I have until 11.30am Saturday to finish the squad!

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Anonymous and not so anonymous abuse of women

The UK press has been filled in the past fortnight with stories of cruel abuse via anonymous web posts (Twitter, etc.) of women and girls and old fashioned, hurtful chauvanism. The saddest story is of the teenager who committed suicide following on-line attacks from people who would not own up to their cruelty. That her suicide is not the first because of internet bullying makes the story even sadder. As a mother, this is almost unbearable: a child so distressed by words on a screen decides, with the door of her room closed, to end her life before it has almost begun.

The attacks on feminist campaigners via Twitter were sickening for their instant, graphic and violent misogyny. Who could wish rape and abuse on anyone, and in particular people who campaigned to have the image Jane Austen, the politest of writers,  on the £10 note? Do some men really want to hurt women so much that they would threaten such vile physical attacks, torture and murder after what seemed like such a positive summer story (at least to me)? Have they read Jane Austen and find the ridicule of some of her male characters so distressing that they should take it out on her supporters, two centuries later?

The police have not released the names and details of two of the men they have arrested so far but with reports of abusive tweets every 60 seconds the day after the announcement, it would seem they’ve got a lot more cells to fill. I have to say I am curious to see what a Twitter troll looks like and whether they resemble the barrister and judge who this week stigmatised a 13 year-old girl in open court as a sex predator, suggesting that the middle-aged man who was charged with her rape was defenceless in front of her female wiles? That many men don’t see how outrageous this is beggars belief.

These three attacks on women and girls have made me look somewhat fearfully at the men who cross my path in daily life. Where do all those normal looking people stand on the spectrum between friendly neighbour to raving misogynist?

I signed up for, the website that had been used to persecute the teenager who committed suicide and posed one question: would people say the things they type if they saw someone face to face? No answers yet. announced its commitment to anonymity with pride, as if it were some kind of medal for freedom of speech.

It isn’t.

Anonymity may provide the frisson that comes from getting away with something risky, like shoplifting from a pavement display or not getting caught when you’re travelling on an expired ticket, but it shouldn’t allow criminals to get away what are real crimes. In the case of the judge and barrister who slandered a 13 year-old, they have had to face the opprobrium they deserve — in measured criticism from almost everyone, including David Cameron. I am waiting, however, for the stories of the Twitter trolls attacking the many women who spoke out against what happened in court. If Jane Austen could provoke abuse, then the women who took the judge and the barrister to task are hardly likely to get off scott free.

What still perplexes me, and several of the women I have spoken to about this, is how little it took, particularly in the case of the Jane Austen supporters, for men to lash out so outrageously and with such venom. The punishment did not in anyway fit the crime. But, to reference another classic, the perpetrators will in the end be forced to reveal themselves. The law should help ensure that the frisson of anonymity will be fleeting.

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