A list comparing me to David Beckham doesn’t have so many ticks in the Cole column.
Only one of us has been the England captain; only one of us has played for Manchester United; only one of us earned $250 million kicking a ball around in Los Angeles; only one of us is married to a too-thin former pop star turned millionaire designer of expensive clothes; only one of us craves the public adulation that comes with a knighthood.
Oh, and only one of us is covered in expensively-got tattoos; only one of us used to be super-talented at sport; only one of us is famed for his good looks.
That’s a lot of ticks in the Beckham column. But here’s one big tick in the Cole column, and it has nothing to do with sport. An ageing squash bumbler (every game lost this week) can hardly hope to compare himself to a rather less ageing ex-football star.
And, yes, the big tick in the Cole column is that I pay my speeding fines.
Only one of us was driving a borrowed Bentley through central London at 59mph in a 40mph zone. Only one of us can afford to employ an expensive solicitor nicknamed “Mr Loophole” who specialises in getting the rich and famous off speeding fines.
The other one of us was, last time around, caught when joining a dual carriageway in the centre of Leeds, where a misunderstanding took place between me and the road signs. The limit was 40mph and I was doing around 47mph in the family hatch-back.
Hands-up stupid of me, but surely not as bad as nearly 60mph in a borrowed Bentley. One more year to go before those points are wiped clean. In nearly 40 years of driving, I’ve had three tickets and attended one naughty driver class.
I’m not always in accord with headlines in The Sun. But this morning’s “BEND THE LAW LIKE BECKHAM” sticks a pin through it. Beckham got off because Mr Loophole, aka solicitor Nick Freeman, argued that the ticket had arrived one day outside the 14-day limit.
Beckham doesn’t deny he was caught because you can’t. Instead he paid someone to that he could wriggle out of the conviction.
And that sounds like one law for the rich in a borrowed Bentley and another for a broke man in a hatchback. One rule for a man estimated this month to be worth £340m (according to that respected financial publication Hello! Magazine). And another for the rest of us.
Mr Freeman said that Beckham was “very relieved with the verdict”. And there was me foolishly thinking that the law applied to all, rich and poor, to the famous and those known by few. Beckham avoided a conviction on a technicality, and that goes against the spirit of the law. The spirit of the law being what the rest of us must swallow.
Still, at least he hasn’t got his knighthood yet. According to reports 18 months ago, Beckham was “red flagged” by HM Revenue & Customs when his name was put forward for a knighthood in 2013, because he had “invested in a scheme that HMRC said amounted to tax avoidance” (Daily Telegraph, February 7, 2017).
Oh, well. Only one of us feels hard done by because he can’t call himself “Sir”.