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On Becks, books and brotherly love

Posted on 16 January 2011 | 7:01pm

Well, that was an enjoyable 0-0, even if it meant I missed hearing how the Beeb edited down my Open Book interview with the lovely – sorry, but I find it impossible to say Mariella without that prefix – Mariella.

Someone even lovelier (in the eyes of many though not me) was sitting just in front of us at Spurs v Manchester United, namely David Beckham. My daughter Grace got a photo of her and him together which has now finally ensured I will never be her mobile wallpaper or screensaver again.

I do understand the annoyance of the Manchester United fan who tweeted his pissed-offness that I was there when he couldn’t get a ticket. My only defence is that I do go back a fair way with the Manchester United manager, and Grace has been nagging me for some time to take her to a United game. Yes, I’m afraid that of my three children, two support United, and one Burnley.

My sons won’t go in directors’ boxes, but Grace had so such qualms. We were also sitting behind the Manchester United non-playing members of the squad, Obertan, Gibson and Fabio da Silva. Grace was mesmerised by Fabio’s brotherly love for Rafael. You could see him feeling his brother’s pain and anguish as the referee Mike Dean brandished a second yellow card, and he immediately legged it to the dressing room presumably to console or calm down his identical twin.

So good people-watching, what with Fabio Capello to our right, the lovely as ever Bobby Charlton just in front of us, his fellow World Cup winner Martin Peters over to the left, and also people from my government past. Party fundraiser and Middle East envoy Michael Levy was at the far end of the Tottenham section of the box, and Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell a little beyond that.

As for Open Book, the interview was a kind of Desert Island Discs through books. Five in all, and I chose This Sporting Life by David Storey (best novel about sport ever written), Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (best novel ever written point final,) Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (best book about politics I ever read), Alone In Berlin by Hans Fallada (tale of the moral courage of the ordinary man in the face of Hitler) and Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami (just like it a lot). The lovely Mariella asked me to remind you that it is repeated on Thursday at 4pm.

This five books thing seems to be quite popular. I have chosen my favourite five books on leadership (two are among the five above) for the Browser Five Books website which is running a long interview tomorrow.

All, possibly, because I have my own fifth book out this week, Power and the People, diaries from 1997-1999, second set of extracts in The Guardian tomorrow, link to Amazon here. Now off to read a book while half-watching some Spanish football.

  • Steve Cooke

    “…as the referee Mike Read brandished a second yellow card…” Even I had to ROFL at that. When did Frank Butcher (aka Mike Read..not right spelling I know) become a football referee. And then I thought, Mike Reid is sadly no longer with us. So, now I understand why Fergie was upset with the red card. FYI, it was Mike Dean. Do you really know your football, I wonder?

  • MOrgan Phillips

    Sigh….how the other half live hey. Sorry I mean tiny rich elite.

  • Steve Cooke

    Congrats on the censorship….I posted an entry on Sunday night, correcting the name of the referee. You made the correction & censored my post. So, the great Alastair Campbell, alas, is no champion of free speech. The corn is slipping. BTW, you’ll censor this as well. But, never mind. As long as the truth comes out, it’s a small price to pay

  • Bob Nicholson

    Could you ask the lovely Bobby Charlton to do something about getting Mac into the National Football Hall of Fame. There’s folk in there not fit to lick his old boots clean. I wrote to the lovely Bobby about this a couple of years ago but did not receive a reply.