The edge - Amanda Platell sees Mark Thatcher in Euan Blair

Let's hope Euan Blair doesn't get so used to the high life that he ends up like that other model of

The quote that most completely sums up George Best's life is one he made when justifying his return to drinking after receiving his new liver. "You don't have to sign something to say you'll look after whatever organ you're given," he said. "It was given without strings." Yes, like everything else in his life - his talent, his children, his women, his drinking, his fists - there were never any strings attached, no accountability for any of his actions.

And yet this is a man adored throughout the nation by men young and old, men who would be appalled if their own fathers or brothers beat up their wives and screwed around like rabid dogs. Any behaviour is excused if you were one of the greatest footballers who ever lived.

And as his life ebbed away at a private hospital barely three years after receiving the "no strings" liver transplant, his demise was treated with the solemnity of the death of a pope. The coverage managed to overlook the violent outbursts, the wife-beating, the cheating and the fact that, according to one of his many mistresses, he smelt of rotting flesh.

Talking about his new BBC1 series The Story of God, Robert Winston said on Andrew Marr's Start the Week that one of the reasons many young men no longer had faith was that, for nearly half a century, they had worshipped footballers such as George Best and now Wayne Rooney.

When David Beckham's star was in the ascendant, before the petulant behaviour and allegations of affairs, it seemed they had finally found a real hero on and off the pitch. For that brief moment it seemed a new god was found, but that, too, ended in tears, the golden boy turning out to be a primping egotist.

Now, with the violent, faithless Rooney, we are back where we started with George Best - from sods to sods in three generations.

Minutes after confirmation of the investigation into the conduct of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, over the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, the head of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, was on the news saying "we should be a little careful of policemen rushing into comment". A bit rich, given there is never a moment between any bad news for the government or the police and Chakrabarti's mug on the telly.

Watching Tony and Cherie's son Euan rolling up for the Bafta children's awards, at which, for reasons beyond the comprehension of any sentient being, he presented a prize, you were struck by two things. First, how completely at ease the 21-year-old and his girlfriend Suzanne are with the champagne-and-red-carpet treatment. And second, how much he milks his family connections. Like mother like son.

Political researcher in Washington; runner on a Steven Spielberg TV series and the third Harry Potter film; a chauffeur-driven limo and luxury apartment while serving out his two-month internship with Tony's mate Bernard Arnault, one of France's richest men - all this on a 2:1 in ancient history from Bristol. Let's hope he doesn't get so used to the high life and the PM's connections he ends up like that other model of opportunism, Mark Thatcher.

The edge of reality . . .

- Relief all round that Rod Stewart did not wear one of his trademark thongs in the birthing pool when Penny Lancaster had their first child. Such an experience would scar the poor mite for life - even more than being the seventh child born to almost as many different mothers, or having a father who will carry a bus pass before his new son reaches school age.

- While we're on pop parenting, Madonna talks movingly of her children on Channel 4, in I'm Going To Tell You a Secret, revealing that her bilingual daughter, Lourdes, is helping her with the words she will say on stage in the Paris leg of her world tour. Yes, how do you say "Are you f***ing ready, France" in French?

- David Blunkett, who will guest-edit an edition of the Today programme over Christmas, says it will be entertaining and not full of heavy politics. A bit like his time as work and pensions secretary, then.

This article first appeared in the 05 December 2005 issue of the New Statesman, The next holocaust