Rod McPhee: Potential knights to remember

Another new year, another round of skull-shatteringly bizarre honours recognising people most of us barely recognise.

Why is this? It's not as though there's a dearth of worthy candidates for knighthoods and damehoods who would instantly glean public approval.

Talk over the last week or so has centred around creating Sir David Beckham, Sir Simon Cowell and (long overdue) Sir Bruce Forsyth.

But as the list was unveiled on Friday the most famous faces on there – actors David Suchet, Sheila Hancock and Eurythmics star Annie Lennox – only got letters after their name.

Most of those taking the top titles were the usual selection of businessmen, politicians and medical experts.

Nothing wrong with that, necessarily, but what about the people everyone knows, those who've arguably earned their stripes but have been forgotten once again?

Exactly 12 months ago I talked about the crying shame that was the New Year's Honours list. I hoped that there might be a line-up which was more reflective of wider society, and less the product of upper class cliques and back-patting.

But it looks like more of the same in 2011.

I'm not saying I necessarily approve of the likes of Cowell getting made a knight, or an OBE or a CBE for that matter, but given his achievements his is a case worth making. But, no, he gets zero recognition.

And Becks, one of the most famous modern Brits on the planet, who led the campaigns to get us the Olympics and the World Cup, he is undeserving of the title Sir, apparently.

Maybe he's still viewed as being a tad too young – so how do you explain 82-year-old Brucey being denied after seven decades in showbiz?

It's all so wrong.

The allotment of honours should be more accountable. We should know exactly who makes the decisions and they should be justified.

At the moment it all feels too arbitary, too 'old school', too impregnable and suspicious. The honours system remains uninspiring and detached when the opposite should be the case.

If they don't change soon then these titles will become increasingly meaningless. Like peers without estates, power or wealth, no one will take recipients seriously.

Too old, or just too gay?

THEY have a point, but the recent concern expressed by some about Elton John being too old to be a dad is a red herring. He probably is a bit too long in the tooth, but I suspect that the real reason some have grumbled is because he's gay.

When fellow sixty-something singer Rod Stewart recently announced he was about to become a father again there wasn't quite the same response, was there?

What you always get whenever a gay couple move towards a more 'conventional' lifestyle – i.e. getting hitched and having kids – it's always met with a chorus of disapproval.

There's a lingering belief that a same-sex couple always view marriage and family values whimsically.

But it's the same ridiculous sentiment that used to say gay teachers would brainwash kids and lowering the age of consent would lead to legions of innocent teenage boys being exploited by predatory older men.

Hard times, but is TV really killing clubland?

DID anyone go out on New Year's Eve? Course you did, well some of you at least. The hardcore. But if low door entry prices were a sign then venues were really struggling to pack punters in.

Just four years ago anyone who visited bars and clubs on a regular basis would be doing the same on December 31.

But now? No way. Post-recession nightlife in Leeds has been hard hit. Only a comparatively small number go out week after week any more. Most need a special event to lure them into the city centre.

It seems the target market (anyone under 40) are now as inclined to save their dwindling money by staying in to watch X Factor or Strictly. Sad really.

Another exacerbating TV show is Come Dine With Me, which has apparently inspired the nation to shun a night out and stay at home with mini-dinner parties.

Which is confusing because, in my experience, they can be just as drunken, argumentative and often end with injuries, vomiting and the consumption of dodgy food...though, I accept, I may just be going to the wrong kind of dinner parties.

EP 3/1/11

Leeds, Sweet street, 28th March 1979'LIGHTING'Mr. Eddie Mullan, a lift engineer at the City of Leeds Public Works Department, Sweet Street, gives a last polish to one of the four old gas lamps that are to be sent to Germany.

Leeds nostalgia: Bits of old Leeds sent to Germany... in 1979