A Boy Named Cruz

by Stephen Tall on February 21, 2005

Frankly, today’s news was drably tedious. The top three stories on the BBC News website currently are ‘100 more foods on cancer dye list’, ‘Prince’s staff defend household’ and ‘Over-65s promised Tory tax cuts’. Food scares, Royal nano-scandals and desperate Tories: all three are so much part of this country’s warp and weft that their absence would lead to the inexorable unravelling of Britain.

So, thank goodness for the Beckhams: ‘For unto them a child is born. And his name shall be Cruz. And, lo, the media shall mock, for they understand foreign names not.’

(By the way, those of you still wondering what this article’s about… Well, it’s not intended for you guys, so don’t read on: just click ‘Back’ now. It’s for those of us who care about our celebrities, and who appreciate the socio-political cultural phenomenon their stardom embodies.)

I will freely confess to being a big fan of Mr Beckham. Not particularly for his footballing skills – though I cheered as loudly as anyone when his scorching free-kick against Greece propelled England into the 2002 World Cup. Nor for his celebrity endorsements – I don’t scrape my skin with Gillette razors, look cool in Police sunglasses, or stock up on ‘ready-prepared’ meals at M&S.

No, what I respect about Becks is his native intelligence. And I’m not being sarcastic. When his affair with Rebecca Loos broke last year in the News of the World, the ‘scandal’ had the potential to wreck his career and his family. What was his reaction? Did he pimp himself around the red-top tabloids, celeb trash-mags or Richard & Judy to ‘put his side of the story’ or ‘set the record straight’ (those clichéd lies rasped forth from the mouths of forked-tongued media snakes desperate for a scoop)?

No. He did exactly the right thing: he stayed schtum, said nada, kept it zipped. The result: the media flames were not fanned, but snuffed out by the non-oxygen of publicity. This didn’t become some long-running Kerry-Brian-Delta love triangle played out on the front pages of Heat and Closer. The media storm abated, and the Beckhams were able to return to whatever amounts to normality in their hyper-monied lives. In the marital rapprochement which evidently followed last spring’s revelations, they sporned another little boy. A happy ending, n’est ce pas?

Apparently not. Those journalists who were piqued when interest in Beckham’s affair peaked, have come back for another go. Why? Because they seem to think that Goldenballs and Posh are so comic-book stupid they would name their son ‘Cruz’ – a girl’s name, d’you see? – in order to condemn him to a lifetime’s taunting. (“Cruz in for a bruising” the playgroud chant might go.) They would, of course, do this without any research, or seeking wider family counsel, because they live the lives of Chavs (and you don’t have to be Julie Burchill to believe that’s a word which dismally jumped the shark even before it was coined).

Well, okay, it’s not exactly a common name. But then his elder siblings, Brooklyn and Romeo, aren’t exactly Simon and Peter. It is, though, without doubt, a boy’s name: “I grew up in southern California, and can remember Cruz being a perfectly acceptable name for a boy. In fact, I’d never heard of a girl being called Cruz,” Sarah Left informed the Guardian Newsblog this afternoon.

Indeed, if you visit the US Social Security Administration website – www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/ – its very handy search function, proves Cruz was the 598th most popular boy’s name in America in 2003. Which, incidentally, is 326 places higher than good ole’, plain ole’ Clint.

And anyway Johnny Cash’s sublime ‘A Boy Named Sue’ must surely stand as the last word in defending a father’s perverse choice of forename for his son:

‘… he said: “Son, this world is rough / And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough / And I know I wouldn’t be there to help ya along. / So I give ya that name and I said good-bye / I knew you’d have to get tough or die / And it’s that name that helped to make you strong.”‘

The rest of the world may mock through the haze of green-eyed jealousy, but I doff my cap to the Beckhams. They may have more houses than O-levels, but they are living proof that intelligence is about a whole lot more than book-learning. ‘Nuff said, ’nuff respect.