Oh Posh! Why suddenly so coy about your cute children
Proud father: David Beckham is a loving and dependable family man, but the Beckhams do tend to use their children as kind of commercial currency
Christmas cards are my big festive failing. I can never get organised enough to get them bought, written, addressed, stamped and sent out in time.
Every year I fail, fail, fail to tick off every name on my list. Some years I don’t send any out at all. My address book is a mess and out of date. Where have Louise and Robert moved to Who is Shrn Cper It is a nightmare.
So well done Posh and Becks. Congratulations on your pan-global social skills and rock-hard secretarial muscle.
For despite their mutually furious workload and pond-hopping lifestyle, the Beckhams managed to get their 2011 Christmas cards sent out to their friends and media contacts all over the world.
And this year, their card features a photograph of their four children tucked up in bed, naked from the waist up.
Brooklyn is cuddling baby Harper, Romeo is laughing, Cruz has a pair of gold antlers sketched on to his head. The back of the card tells us that the photograph was Taken by Daddy.
Some might think the innocent photograph is neither festive nor in particularly in good taste. Yet no one could call it in particularly bad taste either.
And come on, it is so very cute! So very goodwill to all men. So cosy and warm.
Everyone was happy — until images of the card were inevitably leaked online and on to social-networking sites such as Twitter.
Then all of a sudden, the Beckhams were not ho-ho-ho-ing any more.
In fact, the celebrity couple were furious at the leak and demanded that newspapers and websites remove the images immediately as publishing them was an invasion of their privacy.
This newspaper was very happy to comply, but the genie is out of the bottle. To the couple’s chagrin, images of the card are now all over the internet.
They are not happy, but really, what were they thinking Is this not a case about stupidity, rather than privacy
Of course, technically a Christmas card is a private document.
However, if you photograph your own family and send the image to hundreds, if not thousands, of acquaintances, surely you have invaded your own privacy
And if a great number of those acquaintances just happen to be journalists and professional media associates, I would argue that you have just launched a marketing exercise — not a private correspondence.
We all know that people send Christmas cards for all sorts of self-seeking reasons, not just because they want to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.
The Beckhams are arguably the ones blurring the lines between private lives and public lives
What is not in any doubt is the fact that the Beckhams adore their children. They have always seemed such a happy and loving family.
Yet they are also a family who have grown rich on the lucrative advertising deals that their celebrity — individually, as a couple and as a family — now attracts.
David Beckham’s recent replacement of Jamie Oliver as the face of Sainsbury’s supermarkets is a case in point.
Family: The Beckhams, pictured here heading back to England for Christmas, were not happy when their festive greetings card went online
Yes, the primary reason for hiring Becks must surely be because he is a sporting icon. Yet it is also because he presents himself as a loving and dependable family man. This wholesome image adds immeasurably to his bankability and cachet.
Those carefully-calibrated public appearances, including one with Beckham and two of his sons on the red carpet this week, say something important. Brand Beckham are loving parents, but they do tend to use their children as kind of commercial currency. Even if they do so unwittingly.
Public and private: Victoria Beckham and Harper are often photographed out and about and the family have grown rich on the Beckham image
So if anyone is blurring the line between private and public, it is them. Not the dozy recipients of their cards; those who were so thrilled to be on the Posh and Becks Xmas list they stampeded to Twitter to trumpet the fact.
For decades it has been a well-established precedent in royal, ministerial and celebrity circles to send out photographic Christmas cards as a kind of annual statement. A festive gloat, if you like, masquerading as sentiment.
What I would say to the Beckhams is this: if you don’t want a private image of your children to be in the public domain, don’t send it to 3,000 of your closest friends. Be more like me. Don’t send any at all.
Savers who”ve been scrooged
The Christmas fairy came early to the city of Indianapolis in the U.S. this week. She appeared at the Christmas club counter in the local branch of K-mart, when a young father with three children was putting some shopping on his tab. A mysterious woman stepped up beside him waving her credit card and said: ‘No, I’m paying for it.’
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When he realised she was being serious, he burst into tears.
Before she left the store on Tuesday evening, the woman, who appeared to be in her mid-40s, had paid credit orders for around 50 people. On the way out, she handed out $50 notes and paid for two trolleys full of Christmas toys for a woman queuing at the till.
Apparently, she was spreading this financial goodwill in the memory of her husband, who had just died. Saying she was unable to spend the money he had left her, she wanted to make people happy with it instead. The woman, who did not identify herself, only asked people to ‘remember Ben’.
Isn’t that lovely
K-mart is one of the few large discount stores in America to offer a Christmas club service — a system whereby customers can squirrel away purchases ahead of Christmas Day, but let the store hold on to their merchandise as they pay it off week by week.
And once news of this got out earlier this week, the secret Santa idea of anonymously donating to these accounts caught on. Now, donors have paid off strangers’ Christmas club accounts in five other states.
God bless these good Samaritans and their direct action charity.
Meanwhile, back in Britain, a very different story emerges. The plight of the 116,000 Christmas savers who lost everything following the collapse of the savings firm Farepak remains bleak.
The company went bust five years ago, taking 35 million of customers’ savings with them — the nest eggs of low-income families doing their best to give their kids a decent Christmas.
Following a long campaign, the Farepak savers had their day in Parliament earlier this month. However, liquidators trying to unravel the company’s affairs have already spent 8 million on fees and administration.
It is becoming clear that the savers will receive nothing like the money owed. When it comes to a straight fight between financial institutions and small-time savers, we all know who is going to win. What a scandal.
What next for the duchess – sooty rags and bare feet
Charity work: The Duchess of Cambridge arriving at Centrepoint”s homeless shelter in Camberwell, London
What an incredible year it has been for the Duchess of Cambridge.
She married her beloved prince in a flawless and beautiful wedding ceremony. She lived quietly as an RAF wife in Anglesey. Then she was a sensation on her first royal tour to Canada and California.
In private and public life, she has not put a suede-booted foot wrong.
Whatever she does, she is always smiling and full of joy. Unlike Samantha Cameron (perma- terrified expression) or Victoria Beckham (pinched-toed look of misery), Kate exudes a kind of delighted radiance. She seems thrilled with her lot, takes her duties seriously and performs them to the best of her ability.
She does us proud. The Royal Family and this country should be tremendously grateful.
Of course, not everyone is. Some people will always find something to moan about.
This week, Kate had the cheek to wear a 350 woollen Ralph Lauren dress on a visit to the homeless charity Centrepoint in London.
Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, there were many complaints about the extravagance of her outfit. Oh, come off it. Kate is a duchess. Darling, she is a royal. She comes from a rich family and she married into an even richer one.
What do people want from her Sooty rags and bare feet That would be patronising, to say the least.
In fact, our future queen is the most High Street royal there has ever been. She shops at Reiss. She is a Zara girl. If anything, she should start poshing up, not dressing down
PS: How did she get that dress Even at sale time I’ve never been able to find a pair of socks at Ralph Lauren for anything under a fortune.
Unintentional hilarity on Sky News yesterday morning when Sir David Attenborough appeared to plug his new penguin documentary, The Bachelor King 3D.
A clip of the film, which will be shown on Sky 3D on New Year’s Eve, was duly shown. Proving ornithology is not his strong subject, news anchor Eamonn Holmes started off the discussion by expressing surprise that all penguins looked the same.
Then his co-presenter Charlotte Hawkins (pictured) joined in with a few choice penguiny thoughts of her own, prompting Sir David to be the bearer of bad news. ‘I hate to have to tell you this,’ he said, ‘but penguins can’t fly.’
Why no one”s laffing now
With terrible inevitability, the Big Man now faces court.
Alan Pollock is the commuter who threw an alleged fare dodger off a Scottish train last week — and two million people have seen his public-spirited intervention courtesy of YouTube.
The object of his ire, student Sam Main, claims the ticket office wrongly gave him two singles instead of a return. He refused to get off the train and was allegedly abusive to the ticket collector. But he says he is the innocent party, and has duly posed for newspapers wearing his very best poor-wee-me ‘victim face’.
Now ScotRail is investigating the behaviour of the train conductor, Main could face disciplinary action from his university and Pollock has now been charged by the police with assault. A prosecution may follow.
What a sorry mess, for all involved. Particularly for Mr Pollock, who has the most to lose.
Tell me this, how is the public interest being served by police bringing these charges against him It’s not justice, just politically-correct manoeuvring in the bright light of unwelcome publicity.
Something to remember next time you feel tempted to upload a supposedly harmless video on to the internet for a laff.
What a silly Mix-up
Can I just pat myself on the back for predicting months ago that Little Mix would do well in the X Factor Whack, whack, thank you.
However, I’m not too sure about the Spice Girls-style nicknames the group have just given themselves.
Branding: The nicknames dreamed up for themselves by Little Mix make them sound more like products than personalities
Boho Mix. Swagger Mix. Cutie Mix and Fiery Mix It makes them sound like brands. Or like something sold alongside the kola kubes and pan drops in sweetie shop jars.
Cutie Girls, please note that no one who calls herself Cutie can ever be taken seriously. Anything is preferable to that. Up to and including Pancake Mix.