Professional sport - it's no longer a game
I sat up until late on Saturday night, watching one of the most extraordinary results in world cricket unfold as the unheralded amateurs of Ireland beat the renowned professionals of Pakistan in a thrilling tense World Cup match.
As Ireland won, and I celebrated, Sky Sport's coverage dwelt on the figure of Bob Woolmer, Pakistan's coach, sitting on his team's balcony shaking his head. And at the time I thought to myself, "this guy does not deserve this". His players got all they had coming; they really didn't look like their hearts were in it, and played with exactly the lack of fire and discipline that Woolmer had worked so hard to restore to their game.
It is pointless speculating at this stage about what killed Bob Woolmer, who was found unconscious in his hotel room in the morning following the game and died shortly after in hospital in Jamaica.
But what his sad death illustrates is just how much pressure there is in modern professional sport. Week after week we see managers, coaches and players pushed to emotional and stressful extremes. So much rides on so little. In Pakistan, the defeat to Ireland would likely have led to a huge national outcry, probably even the team returning home in disgrace. Every weekend we see other matches where careers and/or millions of dollars depend on the outcome of one moment or decision.
It's an increasingly tough world, and I suspect we will see more and more victims of the pressure who are unable to deal with the high stakes and expectations.
ITV's Jane Austen season
The Sunday night crime slot has given way to something altogether more gentle, a three film Jane Austen season, which started last night with Mansfield Park.
Now personally, I prefer the crime, but a change is as good as a holiday, and Mansfield Park was a pretty good alternative. The production values were high, the settings beautiful, the screenplay strong and the acting largely excellent. I particularly liked Joseph Beattie as a suitably rakish Henry Crawford and Jemma Redgrave as Mrs Bertram.
But what about Billie Piper? Now although I don't find her particularly attractive, usually I have a lot of time for Billie now she's given up her teenage popdom and I liked her a lot in The Ruby in the Smoke, but I'm afraid this just didn't feel right. Not Austenesque enough, even if she was playing the outsider.
Nonetheless, quality drama is always very welcome, and ITV has upped its game considerably this year.
Next week, Northanger Abbey.
Haggard Hawk, coming tomorrow
It could be that crime has disappeared from Sunday nights because one of its leading writers is taking a busman's holiday and writing novels instead of scripts.
Marcus Barr, whose credits include Midsomer Murders under a different name, sees his first novel Haggard Hawk released in paperback tomorrow. The novel features retired detective Nathan Hawk, now living in what the book describes as "village England" (a place familiar to Midsomer Murders viewers I suspect, and those of Lovejoy, which Mr Barr has also worked on) and investigating a brutal murder that takes place on the road outside his village.
The first 30 pages are promising indeed. Good characters, very fluid writing and a rigorous pace.
Review coming soon. There are copies available in a competition on the excellent Eurocrime.