Can the most blatant nepotism sometimes add to the gaiety of the nations? It depends. In the old days, the eldest son of British notables might be sent out to rule as Proprietor of the Province of Maryland, which feels less than ideal, while other scions were elevated to administer 50,000 square miles of India on the basis they were both clubbable and semi-adequate lower order batsmen. Hand on heart, however, I cannot fault the state of the art system of turd-polishing that gifts Brooklyn Beckham a hilarious new career once a year. In these straitened times, I simply do not wish to deprive myself of the amusement. I have hugely enjoyed every single one of the high-profile professions thus far embraced by Brooklyn, 23 – footballer, art photographer, published monograph author, model, and now chef. Is there nothing he can do?
If there is, I am sure none of us wishes to find out about it. Where was I, before the eldest son of David and Victoria Beckham was being promoted into the sidebar of my consciousness thrice weekly with a series of impossibly gilded professional ventures from whose comic implosion he seems able to move onwards and ever upwards with consummate ease? Wherever it was, it wasn’t a very happy place. And like I say, the fact that Beckham Jr is typically offered a brand ambassadorship as opposed to an actual ambassadorship feels like progress of a sort in our septic isle. Better a sponsored cleansing regime than an ethnic cleansing regime.
A full rundown of the more priceless career ventures would be impossible, but special mention must be made of the Penguin Random House collection of Brooklyn’s photography, which featured iconic images such as an elephant taken against the light so that only the background could be clearly discerned, glossed by the self-penned caption, “elephants in Kenya. so hard to photograph but incredible to see”. Or perhaps you prefer the blurred one of a restaurant dinner: “i like this picture – it’s out of focus but you can tell there’s a lot going on.” A launch party at Christie’s London would accompany the work’s publication.
This week, Brooklyn graces the cover of Variety’s Young Hollywood issue, despite in no sense being part of what we’d call Hollywood. According to the cover headline: “Brooklyn Peltz Beckham, Heir of Britain’s Other Royal Family, Has Instagram Eating Out Of His Hand.” Does he? No idea, darling. He certainly has 14 million followers, and we are informed that last Valentine’s Day, he and his new wife Nicola Peltz “baked heart-shaped pizzas in a Vogue video that’s been viewed more than 3m times”.
At present, Variety insists that Brooklyn is “eye[ing] a food empire”, which – if the accompanying interview is anything to go by – currently consists of Brooklyn making fish and chips for the interviewer in a random cottage on his billionaire father-in-law’s estate in Mount Kisco, NY, to which he has puttered up by golf cart from one of the grander bits. Brooklyn only has to discard two tries at battered fillet before producing something he feels he can serve to the magazine’s emissary, and still have the journalist get back to the office without food poisoning so he is able to file the article. A tiny part of me wonders whether any chef throwing away two versions of fried fish before he got one that conformed to basic food safety standards would be something of a red flag, but I fully salute the interviewer’s spiritual constitution as well his physical one. “We had this idea,” reveals our serial innovator, of why he and his new wife are now known as the Peltz Beckhams. “We kind of combined our last names. I was just like, oh, we could start a new thing … ” So yes, you have to have a pretty strong stomach to swallow lines like that and not give them both barrels. Double barrels. Whatever.
But it’s not just botched fish suppers for Brooklyn. “His longer term dreams are even more entrepreneurial,” we learn, “and he hopes to use television to ensconce himself in the food world.” Or, indeed, food to ensconce himself in the television world. “I’ve always said to my wife,” says Beckham Peltz, “we should actually do a reality TV show, because she’s so funny.” Go on. “I want to have so many TV shows, and hopefully one day open up a pub in LA, because LA needs a pub.” The interviewer drops that “while he won’t share specifics, he is planning to launch a branded product ‘in the sauce department’ later this year”.
Naturally, there will be those who wonder at Brooklyn’s inability to have what other mortals might regard as amateur hobbies without considering them nascent professional empires. It does seem likely to be linked to having grown up in a family where even private downtime is tirelessly packaged and commercialised. Whole acres of the Beckham parents’ social media feature supposedly intimate moments shared with millions. You know the sort of thing – Victoria addressing her husband and daughter via her Insta with a photo and caption along the lines of “Love you so much Daddy and Harper! Kisses!”. I’m certainly not questioning the expression of love, merely the efficiency. After all, if one did wish to unleash a term of endearment on the child sitting right next to one on a yacht, surely the most efficient way to do so is to simply turn to that child and deliver it vocally, rather than typing it into Instagram, editing it, scaling it, then mediating it via Facebook’s server farms and one’s 30m followers?
This, perhaps, is the context in which a hobby at which you are no more than tenuously adequate feels like a potential empire. “I found what I absolutely love to do a little later in my life,” explains Brooklyn, 23, “but I absolutely love it.” As for the previous professional callings, “I was still trying to find that one thing I would literally die for, and I found that with cooking.”
It seems unlikely to come to that – and shortly after this declaration, Brooklyn grabs a bottle of beer and pootles back off to the big house in his golf cart. No doubt there’s already some joyless Martin Luther out there, who will one day nail his 95 theses on some Instagram wall and demand that the practice of celebrity nepotism be ended immediately. Until then, I am absolutely here for Brooklyn’s latest incarnation, and whatever next year’s turns out to be. Has he not entertained us? Wittingly or unwittingly; let’s not be fussy.
What Just Happened?! by Marina Hyde (Guardian Faber, £18.99). To support The Guardian and Observer, order your copy at the Guardian Bookshop. Delivery charges may apply.