Jaci Stephen: ‘As they scoop me off the floor, I see Victoria’s perfect form in the distance’

Way Out West

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Peas in a pod. That's what they were doubtless saying at the Sports Club in LA this week, when they saw me working out on the treadmill just feet from Victoria Beckham.

OK, so she's younger, prettier, and even thinner than I have managed to become, but we both have dark, short hair. Never mind that she is the tiny, sweet pea at the end of the pod, and I am the over-ripe, hard one in the middle: as peas in pods go, there's likeness enough for me.

According to the papers, Victoria runs eight miles a day; I can't say whether she does or not, because in my attempt to equal her performance, the paramedics always get to me long before she finishes her run. When they are scooping my body parts off the floor, I can usually see Victoria's perfect, bobbing form in the distance, but then I lose consciousness again.

The Sports Club, which is reported to be the best in the world, has two branches: one in LA West, and one in Beverly Hills, which is where I see Victoria. Until this week, I hadn't spoken to her and, I confess, I was beside myself with excitement when I did. So much so, that I had to calm myself down by eating two muffins, three slices of cranberry spice bread (a subliminal spice connection, perhaps?), and half a tub of Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice-cream.

I'm a big fan of Ms Beckham, who was my favourite of all the Spice Girls. Not only did I think she was the most beautiful, but the most talented. I enjoyed her music as a solo artist, and she recorded some really catchy tunes. Even she would acknowledge she's not Ella Fitzgerald, but she knows how to entertain and, in a tough industry, how to reinvent herself.

In her television work, she has displayed a wonderful sardonic wit in various documentaries; and her flair for fashion design has won her accolades from the highest in the industry. Add to all this, the fact that she is a wonderfully loyal and supportive wife, and a terrific, adoring mother, and you have to wonder what on earth the poor woman has done wrong to warrant abuse on a daily basis.

It doesn't matter how much money you have, to manage a hugely successful career, while bringing up a young family – in different countries, to boot – is tough. Surely she deserves our admiration, not the admonition that has pretty much become a national sport.

The couple haven't had an easy ride in LA, either, where David's recent altercations with two fans earned him criticism. But all that seemed to dissipate on Sunday, when his brilliant free kick helped LA Galaxy save face in what was finally a 1-2 victory for Barcelona.

I watched the match on TV, and, for some reason, could only get the commentary in Spanish. My Spanish stretches on to "Una birra", which is useless a) because I don't drink alcohol, and b) because it is Italian. So all I heard were long stretches of what sounded like someone being very ill after a long night out – "Ellebrooghutrescuatenta" – followed by "Spicy Boy".

I kid you not. Only once during the entire match did the Spanish commentator say the word "Beckham"; he was always Spicy Boy.



I didn't get to meet David, but I did catch sight of the Barcelona team, who were staying at the truly spectacular SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. In an effort to lose the half stone I had acquired in my eating binge after meeting Victoria, I was very picky with the menu and ordered watermelon and tomato cubes, with a Brussels sprout and lemon purée salad, topped with "lemon air".

Under normal circumstances, you wouldn't catch me in the same room as a Brussels sprout, unless there was also a Christmas tree and a whacking great sack of presents from Santa (I used to wonder whether all those presents were just a bribe to get kids to eat the Brussels sprouts on their Christmas dinner; and why ARE they compulsory, when we hate them for the other 364 days of the year?); but it all sounded very low-cal.

I was certainly right on that score; there aren't many calories in lemon air, I can tell you. In fact, you can barely see it, because it is, well, mostly air, in a smidgen of white, citrusy foam.

It was fantastic. Honestly. Better than the muffins and the Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice-cream. I can't wait to tell my new running mate about it. I'll be slipping into a pair of her designer jeans before you can say Spicy Boy.

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