Funny really; there I was on Friday night, taking advantage of the newly relaxed licensing laws, and disagreeing with my mates over the way George Best’s death had been handled across the media and elsewhere. Sure, the coverage was a tad excessive, I thought, but not unexpectedly so considering the fame of the man, and if needs be it could be (and was) easily ignored. Unlike my mates I didn’t think the obituaries were overly celebratory, they seemed quite happy to talk about the seamier side of his character; they even omitted the painful “where did it all go wrong, George” anecdote, or at least I never came across that story in any of the reports I saw.
We also argued over the minute’s silence. Why should every football match honour the man, they said, particularly such occasions as the City-Liverpool game where there was little chance the silence would be observed? Personally, however, while I am not a fan of such things most of the time, a brief moment to mark the life of such an influential figure in the game doesn’t seem undeserving; and if requesting some numskulls to shut up for a minute means we are giving them enough rope, then so be it.
I woke up on Saturday morning, nursing a hangover, cursing the state for not ordering me home at eleven o’clock the night before. I switched on the telly and did my eyes deceive me? Was the whole of the BBC1 schedule bumped to make way for live coverage of George Best’s funeral? Yes it was. I remembered the previous evening’s conversation when I defended the media’s handling of the story, and I started to feel a bit foolish. In the event Cbeebies soon filled our television screen (there was a particularly fine episode of Barnaby Bear at Loch Ness) and so I missed the sad occasion.
Seeking the hair of the dog the family Quinn made its way down Cheadle High Street in the afternoon for a spot of lunch. We popped into our favourite café bar for the first time since it had been refurbished, and discovered they had recently installed two new impressive flat screen TVs. They were showing News 24, which was beamed live from Stormont, covering the aftermath of Best’s funeral. Operation Overkill was in full swing as an endless parade of mourners was interviewed. I was confused; not that the funeral was considered newsworthy, but that it was being treated as an epoch making event.
“I suppose it will be like this when Beckham dies”, said my wife, and I nodded as I knocked back my first Stella, imagining what the coverage would be like a few decades hence.
But then I thought again; did my wife mean there would be a similar level of coverage if Beckham died now? What would happen if he died soon, like in the next week or so? If the coverage of George Best’s death was over the top, imagine that with the extra-added tragedy of a “brilliant” footballing career cut short? If Beckham does die imminently then he could even rival Diana for blanket media attention; and if Posh Spice survives the plane crash (I’ve decided it will be a plane crash), can you imagine her playing the grieving widow across print and screen? I don’t even want to think about it.
I wish David Beckham a long and prosperous life.