‘Becks in Paris’

Can’t remember who first pointed me to ‘Becks in Paris‘. Whoever it was, I’m grateful.

[The] blog imagines Beckham’s internal monologue as he collides with the Parisian intellectual tradition – the glittering surface of a footballing icon cracked open by existentialism. Golden boy deconstructed.

The man responsible is a lecturer in French philosophy at the University of Cambridge. The blog has, it seems, become a cult hit of sorts with Andy Martin now travelling about giving talks on ‘Becksistentialism’. All very British.

Here’s the second half of entry #8, ‘In the café’:

‘Sartre has this phrase,’ says Eric. Voué à l’échec. Doomed to failure. Nous sommes tous voués à l’échec.’

I stared into my coffee. It looked brown and sludgy like the Seine on a bad day. I had a suspicion Eric was never going to get a job working for the Samaritans. To be fair, he must have troubles of his own.

‘And yet,’ he said – I reckon he must have noticed I was looking a bit off-colour right then – ‘this failure, it is liberating, non? For the very idea of success – this is the illusion. Existence is like one of your big sticks of rock. From Brighton or Blackpool.’

‘Terrible for your teeth,’ says I.

‘And,’ he continues, ‘you break it open and you see, written all the through it, in red ink, the letters L-O-S-E-R. All the way…’

That was dark. He has these big bushy eyebrows, old Eric, and they sort of meet in the middle and go down in a big V when he is concentrating. Like one of those deep depressions on the weather map.

‘I have brought you un petit cadeau,’ he says. And reaches into his pocket.

I perked right up. I love presents. Eric was right, all this stuff about failure really was a bit liberating. There was nothing to fear, I realized, except fear itself. ‘Can I open it now?’

I took it out of the bag. It was a book, a slim paperback. ‘L’Etranger’, says I, reading the title.

‘The Stranger or Foreigner,’ says Eric. ‘But perhaps best translated as The Outsider.’

‘Pour moi?’ I don’t think anyone ever bought me a book before.

‘L’Etranger,’ he said, jabbing a big hairy finger in my chest, ‘c’est toi!’

I felt a kind of hole open up in front of me. Captain of England. Midfield maestro. Goldenballs. And now, in Paris, it was true, I had become marginal. Suddenly I was the Outsider. I saw the name of the main man on the back cover: ‘Meursault’. It was staring me right in the face: the first two letters spelt Me.

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