Privileged background or not, Beckham boy aims to cut through the froth and achieve a good grounding in the world of work, writes Fiona McCade
Do you know how to make a really good cappuccino? No, neither do I, which is unfortunate, because for a short while – a very short while – I was paid to make them.
My student job as a barista lasted only fractionally longer than the froth on my lattes. Boy, it was tough. The milk has to be exactly the right temperature; you have to swish that bit of metal around in it; it’s really difficult and I never did get the hang of it. Most of the time, my coffees looked like someone had desperately tried to bubble them up with a straw – which, on occasion, I did. But when I was finally asked to leave, I didn’t give a flying frappé. I knew that I was going to be rich and famous one day, so what did it matter if I couldn’t steam milk to save my life?
Turns out I was better at making coffee than I was at achieving fame and riches, but I wonder if Brooklyn Beckham ever has such thoughts, as he struggles to master the art of tamping the espresso and choosing the right chocolate sprinkle stencil. Despite being the heir to the Brand Beckham millions, David and Victoria’s 15-year-old eldest child has become a weekend assistant in a West London coffee shop, for the princely sum of £2.68 an hour.
I don’t know whether it was Brooklyn’s own idea, or if his parents are forcing him to do it, but either way, every Saturday he’s knuckling down and grinding those beans like he means it, even though he could be putting his feet up and having grapes peeled for him in the Premier League executive hospitality suite of his choice.
Some people have moaned that he’s taking honest employment from poor kids who actually need the money, but as I know from bitter experience, if he’s no good at his job, they will replace him pretty darn quick. Anyway, it’s not as if he’ll be there forever. This is a valuable lesson for Brooklyn, and he’s at the perfect age to learn it.
Wisely, the Beckhams are allowing their boy a tiny taste of what real life is like, and let’s face it, how else will he ever find out?
For once, he’s going to meet and mix with people who earn less in a year than his parents do in a couple of hours. He’ll have his first experience of serving others and, possibly most significantly, he will learn how it feels to have money, that he has earned himself, in his pocket.
I like the kid’s attitude. It would be so easy to do an “internship” at Mummy’s fashion atelier, and even simpler to hang on to Daddy’s shirt tails in the world of football. His little brother Romeo has already started a modelling career – apparently the prerogative of any celebrity child whose eyes point in the same direction – so good on Brooklyn for choosing to do something which actually smacks of normality.
The problem for so many children of famous names is that they struggle to even identify normality. More than most, Paul McCartney tried to ensure that his kids had a sane, unstarry upbringing, yet it still made me smile recently when daughter Stella said that she “didn’t get an easy ride at the beginning” of her fashion career. Well, perhaps apart from the work experience at Vogue, Christian Lacroix and in an exclusive Savile Row tailor’s shop; and then having Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell model at her college graduation show. Because that happens to everyone, doesn’t it?
Like Bill Gates, who has said that he won’t be dividing up his vast fortune amongst his children, the Beckhams obviously want at least one of their offspring to get a glimpse, however small, of what the rest of us have to deal with.
What I particularly like about Brooklyn Beckham’s choice of job is that it is something that a non-world-famous-and-immensely-rich teenager would do.
It’s not a hooray-Henry gap-year, let’s-save-the-world (but quietly have a holiday) kind of experience. He’s not being photographed cuddling black babies and looking big-eyed and tearful at dried-up Somali waterholes – although that would be better than nothing.
No, he’s genuinely having a go at being one of the common people and it can’t do him anything but good.
I suppose it’s a little bit like one of those reality shows where they give a childless Westminster politician £1 a day and tell them to feed a numerous, ever-so-slightly feral Northern family with it. After a week of shopping at Netto, and discovering that small children and E-numbers don’t mix, they give the inevitable “I can’t believe people live like this! This is appalling! We need legislation to gather the forgotten masses into the safety net of inclusivity!” speech, before screeching away in a limo the moment the cameras stop rolling.
However, in this case, there seems to be no motive other than the wish to experience some normality. Despite the considerable financial cushion he has to fall back on if his cinnamon macchiatos don’t make the grade, it looks like Brooklyn Beckham is simply trying to earn his own pocket-money.
OK, the press has found him out, but this job is just too dull and lacking in any kind of glamour to be anything but a sincere attempt at doing some actual work.
Coming as he does from almost unimaginable privilege, perhaps this young princeling will never really be able to understand how the other 99.9 per cent live, but crucially, the Beckham family have realised that he needs to at least try to understand. Which is already one step further than the Hilton family have ever got.
So if you should find yourself in a London coffee shop, complaining that a familiar-looking teenager has given you a flat white instead of a decaf half-caf mochaccino, give him a break.
It’s more difficult than it looks.