I’m not a David Beckham fan. Put me in a room full of people who aren’t Beckham fans and I’d quickly make plenty of enemies among the majority who think my opinions too extreme. In many respects, Beckham represents the turn towards self-indulgence this country has seen over twenty years, where the body has become the place where consumer products battle for prominence. From the prevalence of tattoos to the feminisation of male culture, from a world in which style wins over substance, to the worshipping of the shallowest celebrities: all roads seem to lead to Beckham. Even at what he does best, he embodies the showy but not particularly effective side of football.
Yet to leave him out of the Olympic squad seems morally wrong, especially when that place is given to a player who allegedly refused to be on the stand-by list for the England squad. Beckham never ruled himself out of playing for England, flying ridiculous distances to appear. As captain, one sensed that it meant something to him beyond the increased marketing possibilities. He worked so tirelessly for the country to win the Olympics (though, here again, I’m pretty indifferent to the whole bloody spectacle that it seems strange to be arguing that winning it was a virtue) that do deny him the chance to play for his country, one last time, seems ridiculously petty.
Yet this country has become so obsessed by winning that we seem to have forgotten greater qualities, such a loyalty, friendship, common human decency. Robert Preston was just on the news saying that the failure at Barclays is down to customers not realising that there had been a change in corporate culture: that the banks started to screw us over in the name of profit because they’d forgotten that they were actually meant to serve the interests of the customer.
Who really gives a stuff if we win a gold for football at the Olympics? Let Beckham play and show that we cherish something greater than winning, greater the Mammon… That itself would be a victory, though a victory that in a way stands in the way of everything that Beckham has cherished, promoted and exemplified over the last two decades.
No cartoon, as yet, today. I’ve been busy animating and drawing a cartoon which might actually earn me a couple of bob. But then again, it might not.