• Author:Ben Jones
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Highlights of 2013

With just over 24 hours to go in 2013 my thoughts have turned all reflective. It’s time to look back on my highlights of the year.

How was my 2013? Well, pretty good. No, really good.

On the home front it started with gut-wrenching worry and awfulness with Aileen in hospital and ends with joy and wonder as Aileen stands (not for long these days!) thirty-three and a half weeks pregnant and looking and feeling amazing. We feel so blessed that we are on the verge of becoming parents for the first time. We are just holding our breath and keeping everything crossed for the next few weeks.

The wonderful Mrs J and I had a wonderful trip to the States in May, which I documented in nauseating detail earlier in the year on this blog. A memory that stands out above all other was the incredibly moving scene in Boston as we spent some time at the impromptu memorial built near Copley Square following the Boston Bombing. It was quite a year for Boston with an amazing last to first turnaround to win the World Series. I spent many a happy night and early morning glued to mlb.com in 2013 watching the “Boston Strong” Red Sox bring much excitement and pride to that wonderful city and its adoring fans. I discovered that my allegiance to the Red Sox is something I share with Ed Milliband who ends the year much as he started- in the lead but not leading.

Whilst we’re on politics, it is worth noting again that the coalition still stands and the long game they have been playing on the economy looks like it is paying off. Will it pay off in time for a 2015 Tory outright victory/Lib Dem recovery in polls and holding of their seats only time will tell but things are looking up for them now..….especially if Mr Milliband continues his current level of performance.

The coalition also delivered on a key reform this year. I was very proud to see the Equal Marriage legislation pass if a little ashamed to see the behaviour of some of my party during its passage. I fear we will see more of the worse of the Tory party in 2014 as no doubt some believe the best way to outsmart UKIP in time for the European Elections is to out-sceptic them. This would not be in Britain’s interests. I just hope we get the referendum on Europe soon so that those of us who believe we need to be at the heart of a reformed Europe (not run by Europe) can put our positive message and we can put to bed the nonsense idea that we should leave the EU. We can then bid goodbye to Mr Farage and his friends.

On a personal political note, I stood down from the candidates list in 2013 to focus on becoming a Dad. I look forward to returning to more active politics in the future but I look forward to becoming a Dad more.

It was fantastic and very moving to hear that the Attorney General quashed the risible original Hillsborough inquests and order new ones, due now in 2014. It continues the process of vindication of so many, including the extraordinary Anne Williams, who lost her own fight against cancer in 2013 but not her fight against the British legal system and the injustice that had stood for too long.

A mention of the families takes my thoughts to Anfield and despite some awful behaviour from you know who- I try not to speak or type his name because although he is one of the best players in the world he doesn’t deserve to wear the red of my great club- we are making progress. I like what Brendan Rogers is doing and with the continued support of FSG and the fans the top four is in reach.

The sporting chat runs short there really. A summer of two halves in the Ashes and despite a brilliant Wimbledon- delighted for Andy Murray- the sporting year of 2013 was always going to be a come down after the highs of 2012. Personally my annual pilgrimage to the Cheltenham Gold Cup stands out as did a number of trips to the Royal Opera House and Coliseum for amazing drama of another kind. I will however point out one or two predictions I feel especially smug about now that I made in 2013 (often with the help of Paddy Power!). These include the sacking of AVB at Spurs, the Red Sox World Series Win, Liverpool being top of the league on Christmas Day (made in July), England winning the first Ashes 3-0 and Phil Taylor losing in the first two rounds of the world darts. I of course reserve the right not to mention all the other predictions!

We said goodbye to two political giants in Thatcher and Mandela this year and I can’t help but think it also marked the end of an era in how politics and big events are covered in the media. Both of these- and other big stuff during the year- were not done justice by our traditional- particularly- broadcast media. Coverage of both events lacked insightful analysis and fell back on lazy questioning of guests and cliche. Unforgivable really when discussing two such colossal figures and incredible lives. Btw, saying the death of 87 or 95 year old is “tragic” as some at the BBC would have us believe is the sort of laziness I mean! I have spent much of 2013 with three great defenders of high journalistic standards and brilliant use of technology: the FT, Times and New York Times. My daily iPad fix of all three has kept me sane in a world of sloppy news coverage and analysis in 2013.

We also said goodbye to Sir Alex Ferguson this year- goodbye from winning trophies that is, thankfully! If I was Mr Moyes I might have wished his goodbye would have been more permanent and him a little less visible with his book and regular appearances in the stands for matches but I guess that is the least of his worries.

2013 also saw the re-emergence of the Papacy as a force for good. Credit must be given to Pope Benedict for taking the extraordinary step of retiring but more to Pope Francis who has set a new positive tone for the church. As others have said, he is taking the church “out of the palace and into the streets”. His first nine months promise so much. Hello to real modernisation. Goodbye to the forces of deep conservatism that have been strangling the church for so long.

I end the year saying another type of goodbye; to the General Medical Council after great six years; and a big hello to PwC. A huge highlight in 2013 were my discussions with PwC, who I joined in a few days time. 2014 is shaping up to be a fantastic year of exciting challenges, opportunities and change.

So these are my (slightly random) reflections on 2013. But what about the marks I hear you ask? Nine out of ten for 2013! I’m hoping for a ten next year and some blogging about Junior Jones!

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