Print

You’ve seen the Pink List – now here’s the Grey List

It was a marvellous thing, the Independent on Sunday’s recently published Pink List, which graded the 100 most important gay people in the country in order of influence. Sexual preference is now such an important part of our culture that many will be hoping the trend continues, with the Top 100 Celibates, Top 100 Metrosexuals, and even the Top 100 People Who Are In a Bit of a Muddle About the Whole Thing.

And yet some of us regret that this new type of list has pushed old favourites, like the Grey List, into the wings. Unlike gays, greys have never made a fuss about coming out. They have dared to be dull, and their successes have been achieved without recourse to charm, wit or even, in some cases, character.

In an hype-addled society, there is a case for honest, open dreariness. For this reason, the Grey List’s Top Ten of the Year will continue to be published here, if nowhere else.

1. Sir Trevor McDonald. Newsreader. A regular on the Grey List, Sir Trevor has a reputation for keeping his screen persona free of any individual spark that has made him the envy of the world. A knighthood brought a level of quiet self-approval which won this great broadcaster the accolade of Grey Personality of the Year.

2. Margaret Beckett. Foreign Secretary. No woman has reached the top spot, although Glenda Jackson was runner-up in 1998. Beckett has doggedly stuck to her task, bringing a calming dullness to every ministry over which she presides.

3. Jeremy Hardy. Comedian. A new entry in the list, Hardy was said to have lifted levels of worthiness in “alternative comedy” to a new high. “Whether he is covering George Bush, foxhunting or New Labour, you know exactly where you are with Jeremy,” said one judge. “It’s all about predictability at this level.”

4. Mark Knopfler. Musician. The great songwriter and guitarist offers that all-important Feelbored Factor in his interviews. However brilliant and interesting his music may be, his personality brings a telling touch of greyness to every note.

5. Stephen Byers/ Alan Milburn/ Alistair Darling. Politician. There have been objections that three allegedly individual politicians are grouped together but, after lengthy discussions, the judges decided that Byers/ Milburn/Darling were so interchangeable that it would be unfair to other politicians to allow separate entries.

6. Michael Vaughan. Cricketer. Few sportsmen have Vaughan’s talent for greyness. He has the dead eyes of Bjorn Borg, the drone of Nigel Mansell, the furrow-browed earnestness of Garth Crooks, yet plays every interview with a straight blocking bat that is entirely his own. Sheer class.

7. Jimmy Carr. Comedian. This new contender may surprise some, but the judges decided that anyone who could bring the delivery and charm of a well-programmed computer to the field of comedy should be rewarded. In the past, much-loved comic actors – among them, Ronnie Barker, Richard Briers and John Cleese – have featured on the list.

8. Kate Moss. Model. The fact that she goes out with a drug-taking pop star and can pout beautifully at the camera has not disbarred Moss from grey greatness. Overcoming huge obstacles to dreariness, she has proved that by looking bored and saying nothing, she can quickly make the most interesting situations seem tedious.

9. Dawn French. Actress. A national treasure on the Grey List? Of course. The British like to be reassured by the predictable loveableness of their favourite personalities. The Queen Mother was a regular on the Grey List, and Stephen Fry has been in contention more recently.

10. Ian McEwan. Novelist. A controversial choice, with one judge objecting that McEwan may look like a commuter on the 8.14 from Purley but writes interesting novels. In the end, the fact that he is the only novelist deemed respectable enough to be mentioned by senior greys in politics ensured his inclusion.

  • Chris Rust

    It’s not a trivial issue that the researchers here don’t seem to have any notion of irony or context. If McCartney is saying old people are unloveable how come so many oldies belt that song out at their 64th birthday parties? It’s an affectionate song about love persisting despite the inevitable effects of getting older, what could be more positive?

    But there’s something quite sinister here, the conclusions of the article say:
    “It is imagined that the negative representations of age and ageing can be dispiriting and confidence and esteem lowering for older people and that more scrutiny of these texts by censorship boards should be exercised.”

    In other words it’s a manifesto for the thought police to start telling artists what to do, based on a particularly numb piece of research. Decidedly chilling.