As the George Best Deathwatch continues —with the Manchester United / Northern Ireland striker, drinking/fucking legend said to be on death’s door — the Telegraph’s Jim White writes “All Hail The King Of Cool”
Impossibly skilful, improbably stylish, cooler than a fridge in the Arctic, Best put Manchester on the map. He made it swing. For a time in the Sixties, George Best was so hot the whole of Manchester sizzled in his wake. John Peel claimed that he only got his first break in radio in the United States because the station controller assumed that, as he hailed from near Liverpool, he must know the Beatles. Likewise, for an entire generation of Mancunians, Best was the passport to cool.
It wasn’t just on the football pitch that he lorded it. Everything he did set the pace. He owned a boutique in Market Street called Rogue. He built himself the ultimate bachelor pad in the suburb of Bramhall, and was shown on television pushing buttons that made the telly come up from the floorboards and, naturally, unfolded a bed down from a wall. Plus he had his nightclub, Slack Alice.
At the weekends, Best used to patrol the queue outside the club, checking out the top lookers and inviting them inside. It was, those who saw it recall, an astonishing parade of the North-West’s most beautiful women (including Germaine Greer, then working at Granada Television). Dave Haslam, in his book about the city’s cultural development Manchester England, recalls meeting a chap who was dating, by common consent, the best-looking girl in town. He took her along to Slack Alice one night, was invited inside by Best, and the three of them spent the evening chatting over the champagne. At the end of the night, he left alone; she stayed on with the host. Haslam asked the spurned boyfriend if he had minded being cuckolded so publicly. Not at all, came back the reply, it was Bestie; it was an honour.