Charles Nevin: The Third Leader

Mark of distinction
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The Independent Online

Ah, David Beckham. Scoff if you like; this, though, is the most famous Briton in the world. And a figure, surely, who more than any other represents the ambitions, foibles and feelings of his compatriots, from his achievement in our most admired occupation to what he spends its fruits upon.

This latest is from Solomon's Song of Songs, "I am my beloved's, my beloved is mine". It's on his arm, for his wedding anniversary. Victoria Beckham has responded in kind (neck). The scoffers will point out he has ignored Chapter 2:14: "Let me hear thy voice, for it is sweet," but we scorn that sort of thing here, and, indeed, any communications-focused discussion of the respective merits of tattooing and texting.

I should say, too, that tattooing has an excellent national pedigree, including George V, who sported a dragon (but not, sadly, "Mum"). And that, pertinently, the great galactico now bears inscriptions in Latin, Hindi and Hebrew, although I am not suggesting this is the way forward for all of us, as it can lead to difficulty: his Hindi is supposedly misspelt, and one translation of his Solomon is also worrying: "I am my beloved".

Traditionally at this point, when writing about tattooing, I mention the Hell's Angel who sued his tattooist for missing out the first "a" in "Son of Satan". But I would also like to salute England's captain for a splendid, romantic gesture. A fine totem indeed. On my arm, son!