Top Ten Gingers: featuring red-headed old lady fashionistas, orange cats and SPORT, SPORT, SPORT. The top three in this festival of the flame-haired are all rally-related. What a tremendous shock.
10. Paul Collingwood. Now who doesn’t love Colly? As I thought. We love his tenacious batting, and we love his fielding. Durham’s finest ginger.
9. Street Cat Bob, known for his smart little knitted scarves and his busker companion. Like all self-identifying cat people, I claim to be able to read the mindset of a cat through facial expressions and body language. The way Bob carries himself clearly shows his stout and stalwart pride in looking after his man. Bob is a gentleman.
8. Anthony Davidson, racing driver and analyst. If you only see him on Sky Sports at the “SkyPad” you are missing out. His practice session commentary and repartee with David Croft are tip top, as listeners to their pre-2012 BBC Radio commentary will attest. Ant is also fascinated (I stop short of the term “obsessed”) with radio masts, which is a point strongly in his favour. And let’s not forget he’s DAMN quick in a Le Mans prototype.
7. Andy Murray. Not technically a ginger? Aw, come on! Dark auburn counts.
Used to be, you could easily spot a person without much grasp of human nature and humour. They’d be the ones saying “Ugh, Andy Murray is so grumpy”. He ain’t grumpy. He has a dry sense of humour, something entirely occult to these ludicrous people. Once Murray shed a few tears after defeat in the 2012 Wimbledon final, those fools came round pretty damn quick.
6. My friend Sarah’s daughter Sophie. She’s two. She’s very funny. She loves disco and funk – you know I want to go down in history as the person who introduced this smallest among the top ten gingers to the works of the CHIC organisation. I hear that Sophie is currently interested in and concerned by “the people”. When Sarah makes gingerbread men, gotta be one for Sophie, one for Mummy, one for Daddy and one for “the people”. A leetle teeny weeny socialist!
5. Miguel Ángel Jiménez. His ginger ponytail! His beard! His biiiig ol’ cigar! His belly! Miguel Ángel will bring the Rioja AND the good time, and you know it.
4. Ilona Royce Smithkin, artist, performer, and one of the muses of the Advanced Style blog. She’s 92 (the video below is two years old) and just fucking splendiferous. Lady makes her own long ginger false eyelashes. Now this next part is important. Ilona says that for a long time she didn’t have much self-confidence. She was very insecure, But now, in old age, she has self-confidence. Let this be a lesson to you. It isn’t too late. You aren’t too old.
3. Kris Meeke – the rally driver currently without a seat who most deserves a seat. Fast, very fast. Technically astute. Intelligent. Honest. Witty. This man must have a drive as soon as possible. I demand it.
2. Becs Williams, the flame-haired Duchess of rally. A splendid lady, indefatigable at the microphone (so long as there is enough coffee and perhaps a little something to eat), Ms Williams has anchored the live internet radio broadcasts of the World Rally Championship, and hosted the official press conferences since, ooh, a long time. I wouldn’t dare to say how long, for surely nobody lies about their age with such insouciant alacrity as Ms Williams. A lady who is capable of wrangling not one, but two Clark brothers, while simultaneously arranging deliveries of coffee and cake by sheer force of will alone, is to be respected and lauded from Norway to New Zealand. And she is.
1. Jari-Matti Latvala, future world rally champion. Not technically a ginger? Aw, come on! Pale auburn counts.
The most adorable creature who ever threw a car sideways around a corner. Unfailingly honest. Funny. Determined, but with an emotional openness that can be perceived as vulnerability. This week’s Motorsport News (24/10/12) has an interview with Volkswagen’s Jost Capito, Latvala’s new boss, with the quote “Seb (Ogier) can stand on his own and doesn’t give a shit, but Jari-Matti needs to be loved.” Some say this is a terrible weakness, and that no sportsperson should need this kind of bolstering. On the other hand, some of the greatest man-managers in sport, such as Martin O’Neill, have specialised in getting the most out of those very talented people who need a little love. It’s also never worth forcing someone with a strong personality of his own to adhere to some narrow idea of sporting masculinity. Let me quote the runner-up in this list, Ms Becs Williams, on Twitter just a few moments ago as I type : “JML once told me he tried to do ‘aggression’. He didn’t like it and it didn’t work!”.
I am in full agreement with Colin Clark’s stated view that Latvala is the fastest driver currently in the World Rally championship, including Sébastien Loeb. We’ve all seen and heard Loeb at stage ends looking a little concerned and saying “Latvala is very fast”. So he’s the fastest and the nicest, and will not be shifting from top position on this gingers list. That’s that and if you don’t like it, you can fight me.