Magazine article The Spectator

The Dave and Posh Show

Magazine article The Spectator

The Dave and Posh Show

Article excerpt

ON BECKHAM by Julie Burchill Yellow Jersey Press, 10, pp, 121, ISBN 0224061917

Judging by its length (about 20,000 words) and its dimensions (a dinky little hardback format one step up from the Beatrix Potter books), On Beckham probably occupied its talented author for the best part of a week. It took me, and will perhaps take other readers, slightly over 40 minutes to finish. Certainly, having picked it up just as the late-afternoon train pulled out of Liverpool Street I put it down again long before the lights of Colchester gleamed through the murk. As minutes go they were far from unentertaining or uninstructive, but at about 25p each - the cost, had I not been given a review copy - they represent shockingly bad value for money.

Set down to examine the enticing spectacle of the current England soccer captain, his somewhat less enticing wife and the queer celebrity bubble in which they find themselves, Miss Burchill, as ever in her undertakings, has some interesting paths to follow. She sees Beckham as a kind of Zen Olympian - cool, detached, purified -- bound to his club (Manchester United) from teendom rather in the way that the young Lady Diana Spencer attached herself to the far-off figure of the Prince of Wales. Effortlessly dignified and graceful - a kind of Easter Island statue with the ability to kick a dead ball better than anyone else in England - Beckham also apparently symbolises an older working-- class decency (Burchill gets very lyrical over his East End parents, `the handsome young couple, both proud of their trades') now sodden beneath the surf of freemarket economics.

All this is preceded by a droll account of changing public perceptions of the professional footballer. Here Burchill makes the goodish point that our admiration for soccer players exists in inverse proportion to the amounts of money they earn. Thus Stanley Matthews, Tommy Lawton and the rest of those short-haired, baggy-trousered, sepia forebears bestrode the turf like colossi, whereas today's collection of wife-beaters and reformatory school drop-outs are simply there to be mocked. As indeed, albeit for slightly different reasons, are Beckham and his consort.

Burchill is fascinated by the Beckhams, of whom she rather approves, intrigued by the lives they lead, the money they spend and the reactions they provoke. …

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