In praise of Victoria Beckham

And on the Tube, it’s time to remember modern miracles

Share

Convincing one’s subjects of the monarchy’s value is an ongoing PR battle for the Royal Family and this week the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been on the front line. They’ve done rather well, haven’t they? Lugging the grumpy baby from photo op to photo op, smiling, smiling, always smiling and all for a measly ratings bump. According to a recent survey, 42 per cent of Australians are now in favour of a republic, compared with 58 per cent in 1999.

More fool the Aussies. In Britain we’ve always understood the value of someone to look up to. Our urge to venerate a royal couple was so strong that when it didn’t exist it was necessary to invent one: the original royal couple were Victoria and David Beckham, and they were brilliant.

Victoria marked her 40th birthday last Thursday by posting a selfie, looking tanned, toned and content in husband David’s arms, after nearly 15 years of marriage. Content, but not happy, exactly, because Victoria, like her royal namesake, rarely allows herself to be photographed smiling. Contrast her stony photo face with Catherine’s people-pleasing grin and ask yourself which is the more regal.

Although Victoria Adams was raised in a comfortable home in Hertfordshire, you may be surprised to learn she’s not actually blue-blooded. The “Posh” nickname began as a sort of snobby British in-joke, because, while her father drove a Rolls-Royce, that doesn’t make the family posh, not according to the standards of British society. It was a joke that Victoria always seemed to enjoy. In 1999, she and David had a gloriously trashy royal wedding of their own. They sat on golden thrones, she wore a diamond coronet and following the ceremony they moved into the seven-bedroom “Beckingham Palace”.

Perhaps burned by the utter cobblers that was “girl power”, feminism can be sniffy about the value of celebrity role models, but Victoria’s story really is inspirational. The disposable members of disposable pop bands aren’t supposed to enjoy longevity, let alone secure an invite to a real royal wedding. She’s phenomenally successful as a businesswoman, and she manages to convey the importance of family in her life, without making a show of subservience (unlike Beyoncé in her recent “Mrs Carter” guise). For any fans who wondered how a Spice Girl might become a Spice Woman, Victoria’s biography provides an eloquent answer: don’t take yourself too seriously, but take your ambitions very seriously indeed.

From her nickname to her unlikely embrace by high fashion, Victoria Beckham’s whole career has been a enjoyable piss-take of the absurd criteria by which we define our “betters”. All hail Queen Victoria, then. Because if we must grovel at the feet of strangers, just because they’re richer, thinner and more famous, better her than the rest of them.

The selfish traveller

It is unacceptable to speak ill of the dead. That is, unless they died on public transport. Witness the scenes at Eurostar terminals when travellers were told their Easter getaways had been delayed, in part due to a fatality near Lille.

There’ll be similar commuter cursing the week after next – with no hint of irony – about the “selfishness” of the striking London Underground workers. No matter that they’re taking a stand for workers’ rights, an issue that affects us all.

Why are people so lacking in public spirit when it comes to public transport? Perhaps because it usually works so well. We are able to glide across land, sea and air, without considering the engineering feats, human labour and irreplaceable fossil fuels which make it all possible. Convenience, like familiarity, can sometimes breed contempt.

Two hundred years ago, if an ordinary British peasant like you (no offence), wanted to see Paris, you’d have to sell your first-born into bondage to pay your passage, spend 12 hours chuntering down dirt-tracks, cheek-to-cheek with livestock, then risk your life in a rat-infested ship for the two-day voyage.

We forget, but modern transport is nothing short of a miracle. What a shame it’s wasted on such ingrates.

When once is enough

“Nobody knows anything,” wrote Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman, and his words were the movie-biz mantra until this week, when they were improved upon by the former child star who played the exceedingly cute daughter in Mrs Doubtfire (1993). “Sequels generally suck,” tweeted Mara Wilson, ruling out her involvement in the recently announced Mrs Doubtfire 2. Out of the mouths of babes! But if Mara’s old enough to know better, what’s 62-year-old Robin Williams’s excuse for making a film that’s bound to be terrible?

When I interviewed the actor a few years ago, he was pragmatic: “The idea is just to keep working. People say: ‘Why did you make Old Dogs?’ Because it pays the bills.” At the time, he ruled out a Mrs Doubtfire sequel: “At the end of the first movie they revealed his identity … so how does he carry on playing her?”

What Williams really wanted to talk about, however, was World’s Greatest Dad, a pitch-black comedy of which he was justifiably proud. It was about posthumous fame and auto-erotic asphyxiation (yes, really) and contained probably the best performance of his career. About 12 people saw it.

That’s movie-goers for you; they whinge about unoriginality but they won’t take a chance on anything unorthodox. Except, of course, if it involves a cross-dressing man infiltrating his ex-wife’s home by posing as an old Scottish lady. Because there’s definitely nothing creepy about that.

Don’t knock our climate

If you’re cursing the British climate this bank holiday, just be thankful we live in a country were even major geological events are underwhelming. Tremors in the Midlands made national news this week, but as one headline boasted, they were “100,000 times smaller than the Chilean quake”. Less of a quake, then and more of a gentle quiver.

Time to trade in Earth?

Her name is Kepler-186f and she’s turning heads at Nasa. But isn’t it a bit tacky to be ogling replacement planets while we’re still living with the old one? Earth used to be our everything, so we should at least try to make it work. Y’know, for the kids’ sake.

@MsEllenEJones

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Workers clean the area in front of the new Turkish Presidential Palace prior to an official reception for Republic day in Ankara  

Up Ankara, for a tour of great crapital cities

Dom Joly
Rebekah Brooks after her acquittal at the Old Bailey in June  

Rebekah Brooks to return? We all get those new-job jitters

John Mullin
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future