As a young reporter, Celia Walden receives an unusual assignment: track down a global superstar and keep him away from all other journalists. That man is soccer player George Best, who made his debut for Manchester United at age 17 and was the star of a star team throughout the 1960s. Enormously skilled and ruggedly handsome, idolized by men and women alike, he was referred to as 'the fifth Beatle', and still holds a firm place among the world's all-time best players.
But in 2004, George Best is nearing 60 and deteriorating like a much older man. A notorious alcoholic and philanderer, he has just received a liver transplant and has Antabuse tablets sewn into his stomach lining. His wife has left him again. When Celia finds him in a bar in Malta, he isn't exactly delighted to see her. He's been chased by journalists all his life. Yet as Celia's assignment to "babysit" George around the clock stretches out over months, an unlikely sort of friendship develops, and she gets to know George as a funny, volatile, and complex human being, an avid reader and member of MENSA, ravaged by alcohol and gradually withering under the constant glare of the spotlight.
Babysitting George is a tender account of a unique relationship between a young journalist and a dying star. It questions the exploitative nature of tabloid journalism; the terrifying, all-consuming nature of addiction; and the implausible meetings that can change one's life.
Having grown up in the Man United/George Best era I was hoping for some insight into his later years yet there is little insight here only a repetitive account of his drinking, his health, the women in his life and his reaction to being "babysat". Inevitably there was always going to be a limit on how close Celia Walden could come to the aging and ill Best but the reader finds out little more than any reader of news stories at the time. What was the purpose of this book? The reader might feel that it was far more about the author than about the subject. I certainly did.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful