OK, I know what people say about him. And I have to admit I’ve cracked a few jokes myself. But tonight, David Beckham you made Marissa Danielle Charles proud.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been sucked into the madness. I, like many of you I’m sure, am fed up of hearing about ‘the Beckhams’. It’s ‘David and Victoria this’ and ‘Posh Spice that’. You can’t get away from them!
If it’s bad for you, trust me, it’s ten times worse for me. You see, I’m a journalist. To most people I’m the worst kind of journalist. Yes, I’m a member of the gutter press, aka known as the ‘tabloid news’.

I work for a showbiz news agency and my colleagues feed you with the stream of Beckham drivel from pictures of Victoria pouting around town to tales of David ‘allegedly’ picking his nose.
Notice how I deftly side step my way out of the line of fire. Strictly speaking I’m not a showbiz news reporter. I am ‘feature writer’. (It sounds much more respectable doesn’t it?)
So I mostly write about real-life issues and real women and things that matter. And I try to remain true to my soul. For every four bizarre ‘only in America’ type stories I slip in a feature about people who have survived the death of a child or concentrate on the political and social issues that I would like to draw attention to but, alas, are not deemed as tantalising as rumours about the rich and famous.

It’s no surprise then that, after nine days of non-stop coverage about the Beckhams, I’ve had enough. As a Brit, America’s fascination with the uber-celebrity couple is almost as annoying as her fascination with the House of Windsor.
I learned pretty quickly as a teen that if I wanted to get any service at a corner store during my summers in Union, New Jersey I had better use my American and not my British accent. If the person at the checkout could detect the slightest hint of ‘Englishness’ I would be faced with a barrage of questions.

My favourite one was: ‘And how’s the Queen?’ as if I were intimately acquainted with Her Majesty’s mood. How should I know? I’m standing here buying a packet of gum from you on Prospect Street in Maplewood, New Jersey, not having tea with Elizabeth Windsor in Scotland where, I hope, she’s enjoying her holidays. And I pretty much doubt people plague her with questions about me as soon as she opens her mouth!

It’s the same with David Beckham. He’s a footballer. He’s gorgeous; fit as a butcher’s dog. Get over it. That’s what my brain tells itself when it’s had its fill of the hoopla. C’mon guys. Stop obesessing.

But then my heart takes over. And, I tell you, she did a number on me tonight.
I flicked on to ESPN to catch the last 15 minutes of the LA Galaxy v Chelsea game to see Becks limbering up, getting ready to take to the field.
The buzz was amazing. It was as if the whole stadium was holding its breath. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen people at a football (soccer) match pay more attention to what’s going on off the pitch than what’s happening on it.

He stretches. He jumps. He runs in place so that the heels of his feet touch his bum. Then he turns and runs into the changing rooms, leaving everyone wondering if he’s going to kick a ball tonight at all.
The TV announcer tells the audience at home to keep their pants on, Beckham is just going to have his ankle re-wrapped because it’s too tight at the moment.
Two minutes later, he appears, surrounded in a halo of flashing lights. (I’m surprised the photographers didn’t blind the poor man.)

Then the moment arrived. David took off his sweatshirt and took to the pitch. The crowd roared. Chelsea and Galaxy fans alike whipped out their digital cameras to capture the moment. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger squinted from his seat while chatting to his wife Maria Shriver. Eva Longoria, Katie Holmes – OK, and Victoria Beckham – watched number 23 run on to the field.

Back at home, I found myself clapping and cheering, shouting at the TV: ‘C’mon David. Go on my son!’ It was partly to drown out the commentator who said: ‘Years from now people will ask you where you were when David Beckham played his first match for LA Galaxy.’ (Give me a break!)
My reaction was also heartfelt. I was proud of Becks. Unless you’ve come from where we’re from I don’t think you’ll understand why I felt good tonight.
Politicians, sport stars, the Hollywood elite had all paid good money to see a boy from Leyton play soccer. That’s bizarre.
Leytonstone is practically next door to where I grew up in east London. In fact, I believe David’s grandparents still live in Hackney. He’s a local lad.

David is nine months older than me. I’m not joking when I say that I could have passed this tyke in the street when we were kids and not have known it.
I guarantee that he kicked a ball about on the Hackney Marshes, which was effectively my mum’s backyard.
And this boy – who still sounds like he’s from Leyton I might add – is being paid $250 million to kick a ball!? I still can’t get over the fact that me, a black working-class girl from Hackney is living and working in LA as a reporter. That in itself seems to be a small miracle so what Becks is doing is off-the-charts.

That’s what people forget when they concentrate on the reality TV shows and saucy pictures in magazines. No matter how he speaks or styles his hair; I don’t care if he’s wearing a kilt or a sarong, this man can play football. He has skill, talent and no one can take that away from him.

I remember the morning that I got my GCSE results. GCSEs are the exams that British teens take when they are 16 – almost the British equivalent of a high-school diploma.
The examination boards mailed my results to me and I went upstairs to the privacy of my bedroom to open the envelope. Five minutes later I met my mum in the kitchen and I said: ‘I got four As, four Bs and C.’ I passed with very good grades that any teen would be happy with let alone one from the inner-city.

Mum screamed: ‘What?!’ Then she got into a fluster and kept on putting the dishes away, tears running down her cheeks.
‘Girl,’ she said, ‘you make your mother proud. You make my nose straight.’
In 1950s Trinidad when Mum was born, to have a straight nose and thin lips meant you were beautiful. It was a family joke that her nose was so flat that from birth her grandmother tried to pull it to make it straight.

As I watched David Beckham take to the field tonight, limping, in pain but still putting on a show for his fans all I could see was that little boy from Leyton.
Call me sentimental but, David, tonight, ‘you make me nose straight.’ M x

P.S. I still reserve the right to yawn and roll my eyes though when I see another picture of you in People magazine!

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