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  • David 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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