I’ve never been into football, hated any kind of physical activity at school and for years later remained somebody who never understood why someone would run when they could walk. My first real impression of George Best was his drunk appearance on Wogan: ‘I like to screw, Terry’. I think many people of my generation and younger remember him this way.
Yet this weekend saw a remarkably impressive funeral at Stormont, complete with Diana style throwing of flowers on the hearse. It was the first funeral to ever be held at the Northern Ireland parliament building, which is one of the most impressive and deliberately humbling pieces of architecture anywhere in the UK. I even recorded the funeral, watching much of it on Saturday night.
It’s impossible not to be impressed by this, which trumps those (even those with some with experience of alcoholism) who still fail to recognise that Best was suffering from an illness over which he had no control.
Nobody gets to be the best in the world, or even to come close, without being an obsessive and what is an obsession if not a form of addiction? Add to that a lifestyle that combines considerable wealth with plenty of free time at a young age, throw in a seemingly unlimited supply of sycophants and it should be no surprise to see the subject destroyed by his own success. The same obsessive, addictive personality that enabled Best to deliver dreams to millions was to bring on his brutal downfall. And that’s why he deserved the statesman’s funeral he received on Saturday.
Farewell Yasser Arafat