DAD'S CRUELLEST BETRAYAL; When George Best Had a Liver Transplant, His Son Thought It Was a New Start. Here He Reveals How Wrong He Was -- and How His Father's Alcoholism Drove HIM to Drink

Daily Mail (London), March 16, 2015 | Go to article overview

DAD'S CRUELLEST BETRAYAL; When George Best Had a Liver Transplant, His Son Thought It Was a New Start. Here He Reveals How Wrong He Was -- and How His Father's Alcoholism Drove HIM to Drink


Byline: Calum Best MY DAD THE FALLEN IDOL

MILLIONS of football fans watched George Best's decadent, drunken decline in despair, but no one felt the pain more than his only son Calum. On Saturday, in the first part of our exclusive serialisation of his new book, Calum recalled how he was beaten up by the father he idolised. Today, he reveals how he too turned to alcohol -- to numb his pain ...

MY DAD's 50th birthday is going to be a really big deal. A huge party has been arranged at one of London's most famous nightclubs, and I've flown over from Los Angeles to be here for his special day.

A load of celebrities and media people have been invited. But I don't really care about all that. I'm more excited that Dad and I are going to be together as father and son for such a big occasion. It's an opportunity for us to build the bond I want so much.

I spend the day of Dad's party out and about in London. I can't find him before it starts, so I arrive at the club, Stringfellow's, on my own. The owner, Peter Stringfellow, looks like no one I've met before. He has long blond hair, and he's wearing a brightlycoloured suit, a leopard-skin shirt and earrings.

He throws his arms around me, telling me what great friends he is with my dad, and how happy he is to have me there. I chat to Peter, and look at the big cake, and at the photographers who are lined up waiting for Dad.

'Where's George?' Peter asks me. 'I don't know,' I say. The minutes pass, and then it's an hour, and then longer. Something is wrong. People begin to realise that Dad's not going to show up. I'm embarrassed and annoyed.

Peter is disappointed, but even so, he says to me, 'Son, treat this place like your own,' and hands me a wad of the cash they use in there -- they call it 'angel money'. I look up and there are two dancers right by me. There's lobster and chips on the table, plenty of drinks and I have money to spend.

Much later, Peter asks me how old I am. He's not too pleased when I say I'm 15. But he says I'm always welcome, and if I need anything to give him a call. He really is a sweet guy. And maybe, like me, he is used to my dad letting him down.

Afterwards I fly back home to LA, but a couple of months later I'm in London again for my annual summer fortnight with Dad. This year, I've brought a friend for company.

I don't want a repeat of what happened the previous year, when Dad told me in a drunken rage that he hated me, and that I wasn't his son.

That messed me up for a long time, and I've spent the intervening 12 months experimenting with drugs. It's the best way I've found to block everything out.

I know Dad hates drugs and would go crazy if he knew about it. I don't like the idea of disappointing him, but it's possible that another subconscious part of me wants to do these things to spite him.

My friend and I have a brilliant time staying with Dad at his small flat in Chelsea. He gives us loads of spending money, but I don't see much of him.

We buy drugs and hang out on the King's Road during the day, and go to clubs at night. In previous summers, the fact that Dad seemed to be pushing me away had left me devastated. But now I'm having too much fun to care.

I don't pick up on the similarity between what Dad and I are doing. He's drinking all day, I'm smoking weed all day. He's drunk most of the time, I'm stoned most of the time.

As I get older, I see the sad irony in this. I also come to think that if we were together more and had a good relationship, it's likely neither of us would be living like this.

COLLEGE doesn't interest me. I'm not academic, and the college guys I know seem to spend their time drinking, which is enough to convince Mum it's not a good idea for me to go.

I decide my best career option is modelling full-time. I'm already signed up with an agency, and after I leave school I start taking it seriously. …

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