issue 15
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David Beckham's Buddhist Connections

The Buddhist connections of David Beckham, captain of the England football team and star of Manchester United, first came to public attention when a temple in United-crazy Thailand inaugurated a shrine to Beckham (among other minor deities).

The plot thickened when the style-conscious Beckham decided to emblazon his left forearm with a tattoo bearing the name of his wife Victoria, aka Posh Spice of the Spice Girls pop group. The couple decided that roman letters would be ‘tacky’, and they eventually decided that the name would be embossed in the Indian script, devanagri, which is used in both Hindi and Sanskrit.

Beckham’s tattoo artist approached the Manchester Buddhist Centre for advice, and consulted Ratnasagar, an obliging Indian member of the Western Buddhist Order. Shortly afterwards the new tattoo appeared on football pitches across Britain and newspaper pages around the world.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper smelt a story. They consulted the UK Hindi commission, which said the tattoo contained a spelling mistake, and that it actually read ‘Kwiktoria’. Just as things were looking bad for Ratnasagar, the Guardian’s rival newspaper The Daily Telegraph checked again. Not only are there numerous variants of Indian scripts and spellings, but they noticed that the Guardian’s transliteration of the tattoo had inserted an extra letter. Relief all round, and the Telegraph gleefully pronounced the latest in a proverbial series of ‘Grauniad’ misprints.