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My hot-tub half-second with the England team


When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited St George's Park this week, I had a flashback. It wasn't that the FA's new cutting-edge training facility in Staffordshire reminded me of my school sports hall – there were far too many bits of hi-tech kit for that, plus everyone who appeared in the photos looked thrilled to be there, unlike the glum faces of the grammar-school girls forced to play badminton at my alma mater.

And while Kate and Wills's beaming smiles and game, if awkward, attempts at trying out the sports equipment (her in knee-high boots, him in his suit and barely-there hair) were reminiscent of every time any of the Royal Family visit anywhere, that wasn't what was ringing a bell either.

No, it was the topless shot that jogged my memory. I'm not talking about the Duchess's recent photo scandal, but the England squad's torsos as they soaked in the St George's Park jacuzzi. It took me back to the day I shared a hot tub with a few members of the squad. I was in the spa at The Grove in 2009, a luxury hotel in Watford (though on its website, the place seems to prefer calling it Hertfordshire. Funny, that), and stepped into the jacuzzi, just as I realised it was full of strapping, tattooed lads splashing about. I quailed, and hotfooted it to the pool instead, away from the swirling soup of men.

Then I was struck by the thought that my hot-tub pals looked familiar. It dawned on me that they were Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and either Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard (I always get them confused). I definitely wasn't going back in. I was far too plump and, well, un-waggish to consider venturing in again and striking up a conversation. My friend was luckier in some ways, bumping into Beckham. But since the friend was male and both were fully clothed, neither of our experiences was quite as exciting as it could have been.