I am away from home, learning what I need to know in order to be the best possible sales advisor in my new role, and last night was my first night in the hotel. Whether it was being in a hotel or whether due to the long day, I had not one but two rather unusual dreams.

The first involved being in a house in desperate need of repair, in the middle of the night, with a bunch of complete strangers with flashlights, investigating a supposed alien abduction hotspot. There was an eerie quality to this one, what with having no idea what was lurking in the house and the interplay of light and shadow creating some spooky effects.

The second dream involved a series of recreations of The Lion King musical, except they were in a small community hall and each performance got progressively worse. What this has to do with anything I don’t know. It was completely left field and I don’t know how to fully process either dream.

I’m on a long train ride and I need to occupy my mind, so here goes with some more thoughts on Star Trek Discovery and the attitude towards the show of some elements of the fandom.

I recently started stumbled upon an article written by a Twitter user by the name of Skrishna. https://twitter.com/skrishna/status/937793666093023232

Now, the article in question does a great job of drawing attention to the false dilemma idea of ‘true Trek’, in particular along the lines of racist and homophobic stances. It is painful and frankly pathetic that there are fans out there who seriously resent the presence of a black woman as the lead character, and the existence of a same-sex relationship. Star Trek has always been about the message of bettering humanity and one’s self, of working together and understanding our differences. It’s the core principle of the show. If you’re going to rally against Discovery for doing exactly the same thing that every Star Trek show has tried to do, then Star Trek isn’t for you.

There’s also a very interesting little segment regarding ‘gatekeepers’. Self-anointed champions of the franchise, guardians of the ‘true Trek’ mantle, people who place a greater emphasis on canon than stories and ideas and ideals. The article infers (and I dare say it is true in some instances, albeit it not all) that this activity – the noise about canon and continuity – is a cover for the resentment and bitterness over the positive racial and same-sex relationship messages in the show. It is used as an excuse to get fans to turn off Discovery and to create doubt over whether fans of Discovery are even fans of Star Trek. There are some fans that seek to create this divide regardless, purely over the continuity issues – that in my view is petty; the ones doing it to support their racist, homophobic, misogynist agendas are just horrible.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that this article met with a bit of backlash. It’s worth highlighting the tweet (you may need to click on it to see the (now deleted) comment, but it’s a telling insight into the (in my view) over-the-top attitudes of some fans who feel they can dictate to other fans what Star Trek is, and who are proving just as good at creating a divide as anyone else, through the obviously obnoxious and divisive ‘true Trek’ rhetoric.

In one sense I get it. People do invest a lot of time and energy into the things they love and they want those things to have meaning. However, emotional and philosophical connections to a show are, to me at least, more important than the design of the Klingons or the presence of the weird technology on the USS Discovery. I don’t find it reasonable to tell other fans they’re not really fans of Star Trek if they like Discovery. I don’t think harbouring a divisive attitude then fighting tooth and nail to lay all the blame at the feet of Discovery fans, even going as far as to use a term intended to imply links between Discovery defenders and the radical ideology of the Taliban, is fair or reasonable. That’s just gifting the racists and homophobes ammunition.

Let’s return to Hyrule for the second part of the DLC for Breath of the Wild – this time, we’re going to delve into memories and face some fiendish trials – with twists.

Whilst I was skeptical about download content for Breath of the Wild (the history of DLC is that usually you need to buy it in order to have a complete game experience, or even to simply complete the game), Nintendo wisely ensured that their DLC merely enhances and adds to the game. If you decide not to bother with the DLC, you can still thoroughly enjoy everything Breath of the Wild has to offer. For me… I wanted the extra experience. The first half of the DLC added a Master Mode (for those pyschos who want an extra challenge) and the Trial of the Sword, which I am two thirds of the way through (more on that another time), as well as adding several new pieces of equipment, such as masks. One of these, Majora’s Mask, would prove most useful for the first part of the Champions’ Ballad.

Now, it goes without saying that there will be spoilers ahead. If you don’t want to know anything of this, stop reading. If you want to follow my adventure as it unfolds, read on!

It all begins simply enough. I was contacted by Princess Zelda, who asked me to return to the Shrine of Resurrection. A quick teleportation later and I’m right back where the game started, wondering what’s in store. Zelda spoke to me again, speaking of how strong I’d become and of the chance to awaken yet more power. A four-pronged trident – the aptly named ‘Obliterator’, appeared, as a gift for me.

Except, this is a Zelda game and things are never that simple. When I took hold of this weapon, my hearts – previously maxed out, were reduced to just one quarter of one heart – in short, one hit from any enemy and I’d be dead. Therein lay the key feature of the Obliterator – it could kill any enemy with one hit, but if you got hit, even once, you’d die. The map directed me to certain points, scattered around the Great Plateau, with a number of enemies – thankfully straight forward ones (no Lynels or Hinox to contend with here!) to fight. Killing the enemies would reveal a shrine – one with a slightly different appearance.

I decided to clear all the enemies and reveal all the shrines before tackling the shrines themselves – a combination of Majora’s Mask (that convinces enemies you’re not a threat) and the Stasis ability of the Sheikah Slate allowed me to clear the baddies without too much trouble – though I ended up using quite a few Ancient arrows to take care of a Wizzrobe that was loitering in one particular area. Once all the foes had been slain, it was time to dive into the shrines.

At this point I still had the Obliterator in hand, so I was still vulnerable to the slightest injury. It was therefore prudent to be careful when crawling through the shrines. The very first one was pitch black and involved both lasers and Guardians – once again Stasis proved my friend when fighting, whilst it was important to be nice and cautious when moving around all the traps that the shrine offered up. There was also a surprisingly easy combat trial and a trial involving using Magnesis to grabbing a specific orb from a bunch of random orbs and spikey balls that kept rolling down a couple of platforms. Once again this proved quite straight forward, but the worst trial was still lurking.

I’d actually had a couple of goes at this trial, before deciding to move on for a bit. It would not be wrong to say this was probably the toughest trial so far, with the idea being to use Magnesis and Stasis to make my way over spike pits, spinning cogs and moving platforms – with spikes surrounding them. Finally, for an added ‘thrill’, there was the pursuit – a wall of spikes pursuing me as I navigated other spikes. Yay. I don’t mind declaring this the most annoying trial thus far, but eventually I got through it and was able to move on.

Upon stepping out of the shrine the Obliterator in my hands shattered, sending four different bolts of light in different directions. Four unique pedestals appeared, signalling the next part of my journey.

I decided to start with the champion whose beast I’d conquered first – Vah Ruta, with the Zora.

I am three days into my new career, having moved on from bathrooms and on to sofas. My first few days have seen me end up feeling sore all over, what with already helping with moving sofas around, whilst today I was on a delivery lorry, discovering first hand the consequences of problems created by the sales team. I am exhausted, having done a lot of lifting and carrying and pushing, with my feeble muscles aching like mad. I’m not exactly Mr Muscle so physical exertion is always tough for me. Here’s hoping I can earn enough money to join a gym!

With the end of work today comes farewell to this job. It seems appropriate to share a few words of wisdom from the Doctor:

‘We all change, when you think about it, we’re all different people; all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear.’

Never forget where you’re coming from.

Just moments ago, England learned who they would be playing in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. It’s a winnable group but not one without danger.

  1. Belgium

Here’s a team full of known quantities, with several top Belgian stars playing for Premier League teams. Among their most experienced, talented players, you have Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard, with 81 caps and 21 goals for his country – a skilful playmaker who could terrorise many a defence. There is also Thibaut Courtois, also with Chelsea – a highly regarded goalkeeper with 54 caps. Jan Vertonghen has 95 caps and has been a mainstay for Tottenham, along with midfielder Mousa Dembélé, who has 73 caps.

Another skilful midfielder is Man City star Kevin De Bruyne, who has been in good form for his club. He’s got 55 caps for Belgium and 12 goals and could well be one to watch. He could well be joined by club teammate Vincent Kompany, a veteran centre back who provides City with a great deal of defensive focus and strength. Kompany has 72 caps, whilst another experienced defender – Tottenham man Toby Alderweireld – might well be the man who lines up alongside Kompany in the middle of that defence.

Up front Belgium can look to Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku for goals and he’s certainly proven pretty good at that over the past couple of years, however beyond Lukaku Belgium’s firepower is pretty limited. Lukaku has 28 goals from 62 caps, whilst Napoli striker Dries Mertens has 13 goals from 61 caps. However, with the experience and quality of players like Hazard and De Bruyne, England will have to concentrate and keep the ball, for Belgium will not lose possession easily.

2. Tunisia

The Tunisian national team is full of players who are frankly, complete mysteries. Some do play in European leagues, but there are also a number of players with little experience of the highest echelons of the game. The most experienced member of their squad is captain and ‘keeper Aymen Mathlouthi, with 69 caps at the time of writing. Their next most experienced player is striker Youssef Msakni, with 14 goals from 51 caps.

It would be a mistake to write them off, but with limited experience, they shouldn’t – shouldn’t – pose England too many problems

3. Panama

This team is even more of an unknown quantity. Many of their players are very experienced for their national side, with ‘keeper Jaime Penedo on 129 caps for his country, defender and captain Felipe Baloy on 99 caps and midfielder Armando Cooper on 96 caps, whilst forward Blas Pérez 115 caps. The issue for Panama is that the majority of their players play in comparatively inferior leagues, meaning they are once again a team that England should be beating.

Belgium will be by far England’s toughest test of the group stages and much will depend upon how the two teams handle the pressure – the England/Belgium clash will their final game of the group stage, very possibly determining who finishes top of the group. It may even decide who goes through.

Well, I’ve had about a week to sink my teeth into Mario’s latest adventure, so what do I think so far?

So far, so good. There are obvious comparisons to be made with Mario’s other 3D open-world adventures, some of which I have enjoyed and others, not enjoyed, but where does Odyssey stand in the hierarchy? It stands pretty tall.

As is by now fairly normal for Mario’s 3D outings, Odyssey introduces a gimmick, a means of helping the player, albeit a fairly novel and interesting one. In Super Mario 64 you didn’t really have any extra gimmicks, aside from new jumps and leaps. In Sunshine (urgh) you had the soaker, in Galaxy you had the power to throw gems to stun enemies, but in Odyssey you have the power to take over certain enemies and use them to help you out. This gives rise to a pretty wide range of abilities, all of which serve a purpose, existing to help you progress, rather than being included for the sake of it.

For example, it can be pretty fun to throw Cappy (your latest companion, who is quite literally a hat) and take over a Bullet Bill, but it soon becomes clear this is actually more than just fun – you’re going to need to in order to destroy certain walls and move on through your quest. At times you’ll take over Podoboos (the odd name for the fireballs that jump around in various Mario games) in order to traverse particularly fiery or hot lakes. You can take over Goombas (who are firm-footed even on icy terrain), Hammer Bros and all sorts of creatures, all with their own useful traits.

Graphically the game is gorgeous, reflecting the increased power of the Switch over its predecessors, offering big, detailed and varied worlds, ranging from deserts to a beach world, to New Donk City (which offers up an incredible nostalgia treat for the player), to a world devoted to lunch. The soundtrack is unobtrusive, letting you get on with the game.

As you can see, there are passages within the game that recreate the original Super Mario Bros – these sections are absolute gems and a clever touch.

My only, tiny complaint so far is that it’s pretty easy, though Mario games aren’t necessarily aimed at experienced gamers, but rather, are intended to be accessible for everyone. That being said, whilst I’m flying through the main quest, I am very far off finding all the power moons (this games key collectible), having recently learned that there are 52 in the beach world alone – I have found enough to move on to another world, but finding all of them will be a major quest in itself.

All in all, I am finding this game to be a cut above Mario’s previous open world adventures. It is full of secrets, so many in fact that it reminds me a little of Super Mario World, and I would quite happily put Odyssey up there with the best of Mario’s adventures. 9/10.

The 2017 F1 season has reached its conclusion, in rather tame fashion, with a reminder that Mercedes remain the team to beat. They took a comfortable 1-2 finish for only the fourth time in 2017 (a mark perhaps, of how the gap has closed), with the twist that Valtteri Bottas emerged the winner. He qualified on pole, led every lap and took the fastest lap too, thus earning the grand slam.

He had teammate Lewis Hamilton close behind for much of the race, though the nature of the track (especially the final sector) meant Hamilton was only rarely able to get to within a second when the DRS zones were in play – he had been hoping Bottas would make a mistake, but one of the defining characteristics of the Finn is his grace under pressure. Bottas proved to be unflappable.

Sebastian Vettel was some 20 seconds behind and very much adrift. He had gotten pretty clear of his own teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, to end up having a lonely race. Raikkonen had the Red Bull of Max Verstappen for company, but as with the Bottas/Hamilton battle, Verstappen wasn’t able to get close enough and would have to settle for fifth. It would have been sixth, but Daniel Ricciardo’s season ended with a hydraulics failure in his own Red Bull whilst running fourth, something that also allowed Raikkonen to overhaul him in the standings.

The only other spark in an other mundane race was an error by the Renault pit crew, who failed to secure Carlos Sainz’ front left tyre, leading to him having to retire. His teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, finished sixth, a result that proved enough to lift Renault to sixth in the constructor’s championship, representing several million pounds of extra prize money. Renault were therefore the chief winners of Sunday’s race.

Beyond that, there’s nothing to report. Abu Dhabi provides a picturesque venue but not great racing, especially when the key battles have already been decided. Hamilton said afterward that as a track it needs to change, something other drivers have previously suggested.

One other thing – this was the last race to feature truly open cockpits. Next year the halo system will be introduced, in order to provide an extra measure of head protection. How this will influence the designs of the cars remains to be seen, but Abu Dhabi represents – for now at least – the end of an era.

At some stage in the near future, I’ll be reviewing the entire season. I hope you enjoy!