Life comes at you pretty fast. Just ask Phillip Schofield.
One minute you’re gleefully spinning a glimmering, shimmering wheel of misfortune on daytime television to determine whether or not some shivering schmuck with the bill payer’s permission will be financically permitted to actually pay those bills this winter, the next you’re using that same platform to deliver a meticulously scripted apology in grave solemnity to try and quell the fervour of a simmering scandal.
You see, here in Britain we will stand for a lot - blatant cronyism, downright dishonesty from elected representatives, overt neglect of public duty in the name of self-preservation, casual and entrenched structural racism, the malnourishment of school children at the height of a global pandemic, literal human excrement being pumped onto our beaches, even Dan Wootton - but heaven forbid that you even so much as think about jumping a queue.
Who would have thought that the downfall of an institution as dearly vapid as This Morning would be, well, this mourning?
In a way, Schofield and snickering sidekick Holly Willoughby are now facing their very own Partygate, except this time only one person has died, and Middle England actually seems to give a damn.
Perhaps the pair can get in touch with one-time selfie chum Boris Johnson - a kind of professional greased-up piglet/Midwich Cuckoo hybrid - for a few tips on how to wriggle and gaslight their way out of this particular muddle.
Naturally, the excuses have started already. Phil and Holly “would never” jump a queue (despite having jumped a queue), and were only there in their capacity as reporters. Last time I checked they don’t hand out Pulitzers for watching Gino D’Acampo make his mamma’s lasagne for a seventeenth consecutive cooking segment, but hey ho.
As always, as a reaction to this blight of ethical perplexity, we subservient masses have looked to other public figures to anchor our moral compasses. Gordon the Gopher’s silence, for instance, has been conspicuously deafening, presumably because he remains a stringent Schofe apologist.
But one man who has been hailed for his services to standing in line with complete strangers is David Beckham.
The former England captain and set-piece specialist turned up in the capital last week sporting a full three-piece suit and woollen flat cap - a sort of PK Blinder, if you will - and proceeded to queue for 13 hours to pay his respects to the Queen as she lay in state. He must only be a couple of brownie points away from that knighthood at this stage, surely.
Now, regardless of your views on the Royal Family or the pageantry and deference that have marked this past fortnight, Beckham is universally acknowledged to have done things the right way. If you’re willing to embrace the doublethink of an intrinsically egalitarian queueing system to bow for a dead monarch who you have openly accepted was born to rule over you, then the very least you can do is wait your turn like everybody else.
You see, Beckham is one of the good guysTM. Just don’t mention that other five-letter word beginning with a “Q”: Qatar.
This winter, FIFA will debase itself at the altar of grubby oil money with a World Cup that will more closely resemble a festival of human rights abuses.
From the very outset, Qatar’s bid to host the tournament has been mired in controversy. Amnesty International claim that many of the workers who have been drafted in from Bangladesh, India, and Nepal to expedite the refurbishment of the Khalifa Stadium are being subjected to forced labour, appalling living conditions, and effective internment.
The Guardian report that more than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since the country was awarded the World Cup a decade ago.
Elsewhere, women’s rights are still restricted by male guardianship laws, homosexuality is illegal, and flogging remains an enforceable legal punishment.
Why then, has Beckham voluntarily lent his endorsement to the people who uphold such an antiquated and oppressive social framework? Well, aside from the reported £15 million his ambassadorial role spits out on an annual basis...
In one promotional video, the 47-year-old is filmed travelling throughout the gulf state, eating local food, visiting traditional markets, and riding his motorbike along sprawling desert highways like a metrosexual Hell’s Angel.
“It’s another beautiful day here in Qatar,” he chimes. “This will go down as one of my favourite mornings. People in Qatar are very proud of their culture. The modern and traditional fuse to create something really special.”
He adds: “Qatar really is an incredible place to spend a few days on a stopover.” And I’m sure it is, as long as you’re a straight man with money to burn.
Now, please don’t misconstrue the crux of this article - I don’t for one second believe that David Beckham is fundamentally a bad person, delighting in nefarious business dealings or the subjugation of social minorities. Call it the benefit of the doubt.
Instead, the issue feels like one of ignorance, wilful or otherwise. But really, the problem is that because Becks is so well-respected, so ubiqitously revered, his overt patronage will only serve to dilute and normalise the worst aspects of the Qatari state and its amoral World Cup.
After all, how bad can things really be over there? David Beckham raves about it, and he waited 13 hours to look at a coffin. I even heard he ate some Pringles, you know, like one of us normal idiots.
None of us are perfect, nor are we omniscient in our knowledge of the quiet, insidious wrongs that cause so much misery. But when your word counts for as much as Beckham’s, and when your power to influence is as grand, surely there has to be a greater duty to properly understand the things for which you advocate.
And so, in the name of redressing the balance of public perception, it is now only fair that we send Gordon the Gopher to the Middle East to make his own promotional tourist information video ahead of this winter’s dubious tournament. You’re guilty by association, you furry little scoundrel.