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  • Writer's pictureDavid Mathews

Fourteen men with the surname Johnson, in my order of preference

At times like this, I need diversions. Our new grandson is arriving later with his mum and dad. He’ll help for a few days, though I’m not sure who will be crying more, him or us.

Party games are good, except when the parties are political ones playing charades.

Here’s a game you might like to try. You choose a surname (you could equally base it on first names) and each player ranks all the people they can think of with that name, dead or alive, in order of preference. How much do the players’ lists coincide?

Let me start you off. Random choice of surname: Johnson. How would your list compare with mine below.

No cheating. Do your list before you look at my 14 Johnsons.

All done?

Here we are then, starting with my current favourite:

Denis, author of Train Dreams, a book I re-read as soon as I finished it the first time

Michael, athlete and insightful, generous analyst

Brian, cricket commentator with a huge sense of fun

Martin, England rugby captain, an absolute pest of a forward

Robert, blues singer and songwriter. ‘I woke up this morning …’

Samuel, man of letters, pedant, skewerer on the pompous, grumbler

Magic, basketball player deserving of his name

Glen, English footballer. I like that he was a defender who once won BBC’s goal of the season

Jo, Conservative MP, brother, grown-up

Blind Willie, gospel blues singer and pioneer of the slide guitar

Lyndon Baines, 36th President of the USA: 1964 Civil Rights Act, but ‘Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids …’

Andrew, 17th President of the USA. Hopeless. Impeached

Alexander, etc, etc. Journalist, English nationalist, xenophobe, spoilt child. Hobby: Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Stanley, culpable, indulgent father of Jo and Alexander, op cit

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