Thank you everyone for contributions to the Decent People XI, AKA the John Peel memorial pub team. The short definition for membership was as follows:
There are plenty of people who you would, for one reason or another, stand a pint, though you’ve never met them in person. Peel was one of the few who you would expect to be good company while drinking it.
The criteria for qualification were being:
- a decent, essentially good person
- a person good to be around
- defiantly themselves
- in the public realm
As many of the early candidates were, like John Peel, recently deceased, I’m adding a fifth qualification lest the whole thing become too much an exercise in maudlin:
Without more ado, here’s the teamsheet, with the numbers indicating playing position, not any kind of ranking:
1. Moore, Patrick
2. Tutu, Archbishop Desmond
3. Greer, Professor Germaine
4. Flintoff, Andrew
5. Martin, Sir George
7. Strachan, Gordon
8. Fry, Stephen
9. Palin, Michael
10. Snow, Jon
11. Benn, Anthony Wedgewood “Tony”
12. Mowlam, Mo
13. Jones, Terry
14. Bennett, Alan
15. Benaud, Richie
16. Glover, Fiona “Fi”
Well, any surprises there? Some very, very late entries for sure. Benaud and Bennett made the bench probably because there was a last minute scramble for players and they seemed available. Patrick Moore didn’t get a mention up to this point, but the manager decided that he is clearly a good egg, has happily ploughed his own curious furrow for almost half a century, and is a useful xylophonist to have in a tight corner. If he wasn’t a goalie in his youth, then he damn well should have been, and it’s about time he started pulling his considerable weight. For similar considerations (except the xylophony, for which we have no obvious back-up), Mo Mowlam is the reserve keeper.
For the outfield positions, I’ve tried to match persons to the well-known stereotypes for various positions. Hence, the relentlessly enthusiastic and rather diminutive Tutu makes a fine full-back in the Emlyn Hughes manner, while on the other side of the pitch Germaine “bite yer legs” Greer is a classic left back, combining never-say-die commitment to the cause with a surprisingly complex off-pitch persona.
There was, of course, a bit of a kerfuffle about whether anyone appearing on Celebrity Big Brother shouldn’t be disqualified on principle, but the voting came down about equal, and two considerations swung it definitively in her favour. First, pick you favourite Germaine Greer story. There you go. Second, drinking with the antipodean professor is always, always an entertainment.
In the centre of defence, genial giant Andy Flintoff and Sir George Martin make a curious partnership. Flintoff could play anywhere, do anything, but is here as a kind of Duncan Edwards centre-half, liable to charge up the pitch and score whenever things are a little tough. Sir George is an upright, elegant defender in the spirit of those Liverpool greats like Hansen and Lawrenson.
The midfield runs Strachan (playing in his old position) - Socrates (ditto) - Fry (in the middle of things as ever) - and Benn on the left. This is purely so that we can unfurl the traditional “veteran left winger” joke last seen in the vicinity of Michael Foot. Benn was a shoe-in, and I’m surprised nobody mentioned him. Any middle-rank politician who can sell out a lecture tour has to be both interesting and a human. The only concern with Tony Benn was that the drink of choice would be tea not beer. Some sacrifices must be made.
Up front, Palin and Snow make a very mobile attack, with Snow getting on his bike enough to please even the very-much-not-in-this-team Ron “Racist” Atkinson, and Palin a sort of Lineker figure in that his iconic niceness overlays a wide streak of naughtiness.
On the bench, Benaud, Mowlam and Bennett we have already discussed. Jones T. is both smart and funny, lives near me, and took time off from being a film-making comedian to complete and publish a very good book on Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale. Glover is an exceedingly good, personable broadcaster and was absolutely not added to the team because the manager realised with a start how few women had made it onto the list.
Thank you all for your help. Now, please just imagine walking into a warm pub with them all.