Magazine article The Spectator

The Spectator's Notes

Magazine article The Spectator

The Spectator's Notes

Article excerpt

Here, in full, is the current newspaper advertisement for the coming programmes on ITV1: 'THIS SUMMER Ant and Dec will give away £1,000,000. Famous faces will face the music (and Simon Cowell). David Beckham will bare his soul to the nation. A man will be drowned alive. Robbie Williams will support Unicef. Gazza will support Robbie Williams.

Celebrities will be marooned on Love Island.

The Beckhams will throw a World Cup party.

Dinosaurs will be saved from extinction.

Oh . . . and then there's that WORLD CUP footie thing too. ONLY ON ITV1.' This seems an almost complete summary of things that I do not want to see.

Or so I thought. But my moles from the Beckhams' World Cup party given on Sunday night tell me that I am wrong. The Daily Mail reported that the party at 'Beckingham Palace', Sawbridgeworth, Herts, 'barely sputtered into life . . . after a catalogue of disasters. . . . With her dreams crashing around her Victoria reportedly flew into a screaming fit, ' etc. Gordon Ramsay, the cook, suffered from a 'crippling injury', said the Mail, and 'the heavens opened', ruining everything and making the fireworks 'a damp squib'. Wayne Rooney 'appeared sullen' and the waiters wore 'gypsy-type Spanish dress'.

But according to my friends with the tickets, none of this was true. Posh was all smiles, Gordon Ramsay danced energetically without limping, Wayne Rooney was extremely polite, there was no rain at all and no fireworks, and the waiters wore plain, non-gypsy, nonSpanish costumes. The Archbishop of York also got in a rage with the party, saying how disgraceful it was that people paid £100,000 for a pair of tickets when a hospital porter gets only £131 per week. I don't understand why it is wrong for people to spend huge sums on such things when the proceeds go to charities -- in this case the Beckhams' own charity for disabled children, as well as for Unicef and the Prince's Trust. But the main point, according to my sources, was that the occasion was funny and friendly. Frankie Dettori was thrown round by the England team as if he were Pass-the-Parcel, Ozzy Osbourne managed to get a five-figure sum by auctioning, uninvited, his services as a cook for a dinner party, and P. Diddy auctioned a weekend with him in New York where 'you won't wake up till Wednesday'. Presiding over everything was the gentle, kindly figure of David Beckham himself, with a solicitous word for everyone, dancing with all sorts, and making a touching speech in which he said, 'There's a lot of people I'd like to spank, ' at which he blushed hotly and, after deafening cheers, went on, 'I mean there's a lot of people I'd like to thank.' He showed himself a true gentleman throughout. 'Our society has sold its soul when even Royals bow down before the cult of celebrity, ' shouted Melanie Phillips, also in the Daily Mail. Actually, the only royal person present was Princess Beatrice, who is a teenager.

At Michael Wharton's memorial service in St Bride's last week, we sang F.W.Faber's hymn 'There's a wideness in God's mercy'. One couplet goes 'There is room for fresh creations/ In that upper home of bliss', which made me think, I'm afraid, of the House of Lords. Modern politicians have to say that they favour direct election to the second chamber (though Tony Blair went through a period of rejecting this), but if this were to happen, the smooth running of political life would be threatened. …

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