Today I find myself in the rather strange position of wanting to stand up for David Beckham. This is not something that I have had any urge to do before. And I am certain that he neither wants nor needs my support. He’s a grown man; talented, successful, handsome, with a sophisticated and expensive PR machine around him – he most certainly doesn’t need me. Neither can I claim to be a particular fan of him or of football. Although his talent as a footballer is undeniable. And as much as I can tell, Mr Beckham has worked incredibly hard for our country and for numerous charities. I know, he hasn’t done too badly out of it either, but talent and success is not something to blame him, or anyone else, for when he has clearly worked so hard to achieve it.
So to the point. The facts as I understand it are that Mr Beckham’s personal emails were hacked. The Hacker found some emails that cast Mr Beckham in an unflattering light and therefore tried to use them to blackmail him for up to a million pounds. An injunction was obtained to prevent publication in this country, but media from outside of this country who were not covered by the injunction published anyway. Some British media companies then followed suit in spite of the injunction in this territory.
Now there are two points here that particularly concern me; the first being the blackmail. Charming, obviously. I’m not sure how it is less of a crime even if it is more sophisticated than nicking money from someone’s piggy bank. A bit like trolling, there seem to be a number of people around who feel brave enough to behave appallingly if they have a degree of anonymity. I haven’t figured out why that should be, but I am sure that a psychologist or a psychiatrist could tell me. Is it like people behaving differently when inside a car rather than outside of it? If you are a psychologist or a psychiatrist, please tell me, I would be most interested to know. Anyway, blackmail. As old as the oldest profession and a lot less honourable. Hopefully the authorities will track this individual or individuals down and deal with them accordingly.
Secondly (and this one is more nebulous): private emails are just that aren’t they? Private. Isn’t it like opening someone’s post, selling it and publishing that? I am deeply uncomfortable about private emails having been published, and I can say with confidence that no one is remotely interested in my private emails, probably not even the people to whom they are sent. So inane are my ramblings that sometimes, my friend, Catherine and I are being pursued relentlessly around the Warwickshire countryside by two famous men whom we find rather attractive. These men are found in various locations; one (we’ll call him Sebastian Cummerbund) reciting Shakespeare in his hideously unattractive voice to try and tempt me to him, and the other (we’ll call him Kiki TheFinnishOne) is dressed head to toe in a red racing’s driver outfit and crash helmet and is at the wheel of an ice cream van speeding past Catherine’s house or place of work at all times of the day and night. Sometimes our mutual friend, Sophie, appears in these stories as well. She has seen ‘Poldark’ and ‘And Then There Were None’ and has since developed a deep and sincere concern for the whereabouts of Aidan Turner’s towel. Imagine how embarrassing it would be if someone published those emails. I mean for the three men in them. Not us, no one cares about us. Sometimes (and this will surprise you) we rant about work as well.
Is it more acceptable because Mr Beckham is rich and famous? I’m really not sure where the line is drawn on that one. Just how rich and how famous do you have to be to make it all right? One million in the bank? Two million? Quite famous? Internationally famous or just recognised occasionally in the supermarket? And who amongst us, has not had a bad day? Who has not been exceedingly peeved about something and fired off an email or a text to a friend to get something off their chest that they would be mortified about should it be made public? No? No one? No one at all? Rubbish. If Facebook or WhatsApp published messages, they could blackmail the entire world. But if they did that then trust would be broken and their very, very lucrative businesses would be buggered, which is why they presumably work very hard indeed to prevent such a thing happening.
So the upshot of all this is that Mr Beckham is not a saint but a human being. Shocking indeed. And human beings get pissed off occasionally. A revelation. It does not negate any of the work he has done, or continues to do, for charity or for his country. At least, I don’t think it does. He uses his very extensive powers for good. And however big or small your powers may be, there can never be enough of that in the world.