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Wednesday, June 20, 2012
It’s back - one of the great stories that, agonisingly for all involved, simply isn’t true
In the era of the internet, the urban myth has taken on a new lease of life.
With the ability to spread a piece of entirely unsubstantiated gossip to an address book full of friends and acquaintances in the blinking of an eye and a click of a mouse, it was always going to be the way.
And it was in this fertile environment the David Beckham in Kent myth was born.
It was about four years ago the story first surfaced and it was so appealing even the most hardened of local newspaper hacks couldn’t dare ignore it.
The story was as thus.
David and Victoria Beckham were desperate to hire out Eastwell Manor, near Ashford, as the venue for the christening of one of their children (I forget which one).
Determined to stage it on a particular date (that escapes me too) they were crestfallen to discover it was already hired for a blushing bride and her groom.
But the story doesn’t end there. Oh no. It gets miles better.
So desperate are they to celebrate in style, they approach the soon-to-be happy couple and ask them to move their big day. They refuse.
Not short of a bob or two, the Beckhams resort to the cheque book. We’ll pay you, they tell the couple, £10,000 if you wouldn’t mind moving. No, they’re told, we’re really sorry but it’s all arranged.
Not used to hearing the word no, the Beckhams up their offer until, the story goes, they have offered to pay off the couple’s mortgage and splash out on a £10,000 honeymoon for them.
Best of all, it’s a friend-of-a-friend whose wedding it is. And they’re happy to talk.
You can imagine how the eager reporter keen to make his name could barely resist.
Not only was this local front page stuff, but national too. And given the Beckhams’ global appeal, international. And with a well-placed story there is the chance to not only make a reputation but to earn a few bob too by tipping off the nationals.
It all looked marvellous. Everyone was a winner. The reporter, the newspaper, the Beckhams, the now-rich young couple, and, hell, even the nation who could munch their cornflakes while reading about how the other half live.
But, with so many things that were too good to be true, there was just one small tiny little fly in the ointment. It wasn’t true. At all. None of it.
I recount this story because Kent is not alone in falling victim to variations on this said same theme.
So good, in fact, is the myth that earlier this year it bounced all the way around the nation and found its way back into Kent.
The only difference this time was that Eastwell Manor had been upgraded to Leeds Castle and it wasn’t a christening, merely a bijou little pad for the Beckhams to stay while they visited the Olympic Games in London in July.
This time another local newspaper got wind of it…and as they ran the ‘it’s not true’ story, you could almost hear the sound of shattered journalist dreams. At least they’d properly checked it out.
I recount this story because it hasn’t been seen in Kent since February.
Now, though, it is indeed back and spreading faster than Usain Bolt over the 100 metres.
The only thing which remains constant in the latest incarnation is that the Beckhams are involved and the couple being paid off is a friend-of-a-friend.
One day I hope to meet that elusive friend-of-a-friend, because when I do I’m going to sell so many of the varied stories he is intimately involved with, I’ll be able to retire an extremely rich man.
So rich, in fact, I’ll start bribing couples to shift their nuptials in ruddy great big ostentatious venues so I can celebrate in style.
You heard it here first. And you’re all invited.