Getting Baratheon. Yes, that’s a euphemism for bearding up now “winter is coming”. This might be the most exclusive post you read all day. Aimed at men, dismissing pogonophobes, heralding autumn – while taking an arachnophobic tangent and grammar snobbery. Oh yes, and packed with Game of Thrones Season Five spoilers.

No, surely there are more exclusive posts out there.

An unhealthy pact

Holmes and Moriarty it was not…

It was summer only two weeks ago, but there’s no doubt that autumn has arrived. I can tell as I’ve formed a difficult relationship with a garden spider who lives in a white corner of a room in my house. Not fans of the evil bastards I even feel mildly ill when I write their name. That’s called advanced conditioning and isn’t desirable.  Still, I’d hoped that forming a single alliance with a variety I can actually look at would help ward off eight-limbed rivals I liked less. It didn’t. And to reward me for my tolerance and providing it a warm enclave of a home, it even entered a prolonged battle with another garden spider which ended when the gorged corpse of one fell to the skirting board.

Holmes and Moriarty it was not. And now I don’t even know if the survivor is the same bloody arachnid I entered into the unsavoury deal with in the first place. The moral there: never entertain a bargain with a spider. They always turn the tables.

Still, the point remains that it’s autumn and that means it’s getting cold. The clocks have fallen back, so the walk to the pub is chiller and darker. Slightly less scientifically, dog’s are thickening the hair on their hinds and Siberian swans have arrived in the UK, which undoubtedly heralds a terrible winter. The kind that would have Starks packing their Dorne shorts for a trip to the south. Well, maybe not that bad, but dragon glass would have a better chance of stalling its approach than another Giorgio Moroder week.

Winter is coming

Consider a beard…

And so every man in his turn, if he is willing, able and not contractually disobliged must consider a beard.  Same as it ever was. Though, this year it’s different. The Baratheons are all dead. See, spoilers. Game of Thrones spoilers, and there’s very little ambiguity too give them hope. The last remaining brother is quite dead and his beard along with him. That’s a great shame as they were all doing a fine job of keeping shadow bristles in the public eye and not least because their House shared a sigil with my family crest. A few families have the mighty Stag as their emblem. The Baratheons are one of the unluckiest.

True there wasn’t much to like about that minor House that rose to the top in the Game of Thrones.

They never looked like they could dance well on fire or ice. Robert was a lazy git, but that shouldn’t undervalue his achievement in toppling the Targaryen dynasty. Youngest brother Renly was prone to celebrating a little too early, though he had fairly good judgement in his swift treachery, choice of bodyguard and can’t really be faulted for falling to a shadow monster. It was all best summed up by good old grumpy Stannis, the middle-child who one reflected “I ask you, why did the gods inflict me with brothers?” While the longest surviving, Season Five tracked his considerable fall, unfortunately saddling him with filicide in his final days. Still Stannis will be a great loss to the series. Brilliantly played as he was by Stephen Dillane.

Grammatically sneering

As one of Westeros’ great tacticians…

A fine dry wit of ironic acceptance for such a humourless and obsessive man. One of his most admirable traits was his grammatical purity. Not a trait that necessarily equates with godliness, some have incorrectly labelled him a grammar extremist of various denominations. But no, for Stannis it was something to keep circumspect, even when it was his particular insistence that fewer should be used exclusively for anything that can be individually counted rather than something that can’t.  It’s one of many rules that raises heckles even after a 1000 years, as the language is allowed to tangle near-synonyms with abandon but refuses to let a difference between much and many be merged in the vernacular. But then Stannis didn’t interrupt, why bother when you only have subjects and enemies, and better ways of proving your superiority to either?  No, he waited for gaps or made asides so that the errable speaker’s point is still clear is not as accurate as he wanted. Which as one of Westeros’ great tacticians he knew was far more important, even if the method’s disdainful.

But then at the end was his greatest hour, when somehow the bloody Boltons managed to out fox his depleted army. The exquisite moment of realising your mistakes, then rising to one last, fatal hurrah. If you act it, it looks like this:

Stannis Baratheon's final battle
Ah… (HBO, GoTS5)

We’ve all had moments like that, or will. Of course no doubt thanks to having his best beard of the series, he survived only to fall to vengeance for Renly…

Fewer or less Baratheons. Well, there are none.

But it’s definitely time for many more beards.