The Third Leader: Star for a night

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The Independent Online

Finally, after the inescapable images of our various heroes with heads down and lips bit, there is a British triumph to celebrate. Not, true, one in a sporting arena achieved before a marvelling world, but, nonetheless, a timely reminder of the respect which we continue to inspire even in the most unlikely locations.

Take a bow, Mr Neil Smith, who, following some lively and liberally translated reminiscences in a Russian hotel bar about his time in an unrenowned Seventies rock band, found himself up on stage in a packed arena in Abakan judging Miss Siberia.

Many will admire the native sang-froid with which Mr Smith, after being hailed as an international guitar legend and intimate of the Rolling Stones, carried out his task, carried off a speech, and then spent nearly an hour signing autographs. Others will seek to unravel how such things can be.

We are just happy that they happen, mostly because they shouldn't in a world of easy communication and instant Google; and greatly relieved that Life, despite all efforts to make it otherwise, remains so gloriously unpredictable as to allow a 52-year-old engineer from Rotherham to be, however it was contrived and however briefly, a Rock God.

You will have your own favourite examples of such an unlikeliness. I much enjoyed Mr Guy Goma, but feel that Sir John Major went on a little too long. More topical is another doughty Yorkshireman, Mr Charlie Adie of York, who, after another conversation in a bar, ended up playing rugby for Estonia against Finland, and being named man of the match. An idea for next time, possibly, Brian.

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