In The Daily Telegraph, James Brown writes a highly flattering piece about David Beckham (pictured), saying he has glided "into an outrageously attractive second life" and that, in whatever ambassadorial or advertising work he undertakes, he "looks right". Brown quotes Luke Johnson's recent claim that ambition is bad for your health, adding that Beckham's greatest feat "has been making what he does look effortless".
But what does he do? He certainly seems to glide through life, though it's hard to detect much sign of new ambition. Still, the bar for ex-footballers isn't exactly high, so perhaps we should admire him as he turns 40 for looking so trim and immaculate. Brown tells the story of two blokes at a bar watching an important football game and becoming increasingly annoyed "by a huge walrus of a bloke who was shouting at the television".
The man looked as if he was barely capable of kicking a football, and someone asked the barman: "Why does that fat b****** think he knows anything about football?" The barman replied: "Ask him he won two European Cups with Nottingham Forest, and the Cup with Liverpool." It was the legendary 1970s centreback, Larry Lloyd, who, as Brown says, "now clearly enjoys the things that come on plates".
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A gallery of rogues and thieves
Knowing a couple of aspiring young musicians, I enjoyed Roger Waters's rant about Silicon Valley. The Pink Floyd singer and bass guitarist told The Times how glad he is he was born in 1943 and not 1983. He grew up in the days when, as he put it, "there was a music business and the takeover of Silicon Valley hadn't happened". In those days you could make a proper living writing and recording and playing songs unlike nowadays.
Luckily for him, he says, his heyday happened when "this gallery of rogues and thieves had not yet interjected themselves between the people who aspire to be creative and their potential audience and steal every f***ing cent anybody ever made and put it in their pockets to buy f***ing huge mega-yachts and Gulfstream Fives with. These thieves! It's just stealing. And that they're allowed to get away with it is just incredible." Perhaps it is, but then, as Waters admits, a whole generation has now grown up believing that music should be free. The next generation is unlikely to feel any differently.
Boris isn't quite what he seems
As Matthew Parris noted in The Times, right-wing Tories may well end up adopting Boris Johnson as their candidate one day. But, as Parris also says, they don't seem to have noticed that Boris is to the left of David Cameron.
A clue as to his priorities emerged last week when he told The Spectator: "I don't mind people in the sharp end of the plane guzzling Chateau Margaux but what people won't accept is those at the back of the plane finding their in-flight meal smaller and their conditions getting more and more cramped." We'll hear a lot more of this kind of thing, I predict, once Johnson is back in the Commons.
Tabloid money: the rise of the Ikea divorce
Last year, one local council settled 28 compensation claims at a total cost of £773,390. It is either "a particularly hazardous place," notes Ross Clark in the Daily Express, or "the council and its insurers are a little too keen to give in to the lawyers who bring these claims". Some people "genuinely suffer from negligence on the part of public bodies", but "for too many Britons, making compensation claims is now seen as an alternative to working or playing the lottery".
Such claims are draining the NHS budget and "adding an average of £93 a year to motorists' premiums". Instead of paying out huge sums for minor injuries, compensation should be limited to "nothing but a bit of advice to be a bit more careful next time".
An American therapist thinks that shopping at Ikea is "one of the biggest causes of marital disputes and eventual divorce", says Rod Liddle in The Sun. However, her solution is to force her clients "to work together on self-assembly items at home and report back on how it all went". If my wife and I took her advice "I'd have an Allen key implanted in my right eyeball even before we'd counted all the little screws and laid the planks of wood out on the floor". The problem is that there's no way out, since trying to avoid the "Swedish hellhole" because "the football's on" is also certain to lead to "bitter marital disagreement".
The Mirror's Fiona Phillips says she turned down an invitation to be public health minister in Gordon Brown's government. But she regrets passing up the chance to ensure that food manufacturers were "savagely whipped into shape, made to take responsibility and forced to adhere to strict limits on fat, sugar and salt". Instead, a decision to scrap a salt-reduction drive "has cost 6,000 lives" what's more, the makers of junk food "have all had unprecedented access to government since 2010". It is staggering "how we're duped by the shameless food industry's hunger for cash, which comes at the expense of our health".
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