Thursday, June 28, 2007

Winners

So, that’s Tim Henman out of Wimbledon. As predicted, he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. As the bright young hope that is Andy Murray is injured, we have been left with no British players in either the men’s or the ladies’ singles. It’s just like the bleak days of the 1980s (but thankfully without Margaret Thatcher), when a few has-beens who didn’t exactly set the court alight when they were younger managed to scrape the odd victory.

There was always something slightly distasteful in those days about out and out patriotism; probably because those that advocated it were rather distasteful themselves. The union flag had dodgy connotations: bovver boys with snarling, hate-filled faces. Lots of us Generation Xers adopted a cynical attitude in reaction. Cheering people just because they came from the same country as you wasn’t right-on.

Somewhere in the ‘90s, things changed. I remember Italia 90, Gazza crying, and feeling rather emotional myself, albeit an emotion fuelled by a few pints of Stella Artois. It wasn't just football: suddenly, we had tennis players who won matches and looked as if, on a good day and with a strong following wind, they might actually go all the way. Suddenly, it was all right to be vocal in support of British sport. It was OK to want success. And once they became successful, you didn’t have to adopt the Daily Mail’s sneering attitude of shooting people down.

One of my colleagues still has a jaded, cynical view. Why, he wondered today, did Henman bother fighting to a fifth set, when we all knew he was going to lose? Surely it would’ve been better if he’d done the decent thing and bowed out after three? I said that we’d still have someone in the competition if Andy Murray had been fit. My colleague said: “Maybe, but he wouldn’t be in for long. He’d still lose.”

“I can imagine what you’d have been like in the Second World War,” I said. “’That Churchill, I don’t know why he bothers. He’ll just lose in the end’.”

It’s like saying: “Why bother living, trying, striving – because ultimately, we’ll all die.” I may have a strong streak of cynicism running down my spine and I can be as jaded as the best of them, but I don’t do nihilism. We have to reach for our moments of joy in life; we have to believe that sometimes, dreams do come true.


19 comments:

Stay at home dad said...

Well exactly. You can't help but wonder what all the Henman haters have ever done with their own lives... not become the 4th best in the world at anything I bet.

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. I don't think it is fair to suggest that the Brits don't win at sport. They probably get their fair share, to be honest.

England won the Rugby World Cup, not all that long ago. And they won the Ashes.

Wales won the Grand Slam a year back.

And Lewis Hamilton is doing pretty well at the Grand Prix.

So the glass is already half full.

Remember we are a very small country indeed, and if we want to do well we have to 'punch above our weight'. That involves spending a serious amount of cash on school sporting facilities for things like tennis, football, cricket and golf.

mutterings and meanderings said...

SAHD, absoluetly. I am not a great Henman fan, but I do like to see him win ...

Anon, I'm not suggesting we don't ever win, I was looking more at our attitude to winning, to success etc...

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It is a shame Henman's gone. I'm not a tennis fan myself but it would have been a proud moment to see a Brit lift the cup. Perhaps they should give the ladies more incentive to win and maybe a little more encouragement.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

that was bloody spooky! I was commenting on your blog as you were commenting mine! And yes is the answer to your question. More than anything.

Anonymous said...

m&m - Yes, I take your point about attitude. Virginia Wade was on the telly the other day, and admitted she might have done better if she wasn't as reticent about her talents, in the manner of Billie Jean King or Chris Evert.

Then again, I'm not sure I'd want to live in Britain if all our 'British reserve' was lost.

Personally I would go and live in Canada if all British men were like Andy 'w@n**r' Roddick or Lleyton bl**dy Hewitt.. Although I notice many of your female readers appear to have something of a soft spot for Mr Agassi and Mr Ivanisevic, neither of whom can be described as being 'backward about coming forward'.

Where would that leave someone like Mr Federer ? He appears to be too much of a nice guy to be ruthless, but he still seems to win often enough...

andy said...

I find it difficult to get worked up about tennis - and whether a "brit" is still playing or not. I find it easier to get worked up about 3 brits getting killed in Basra.

Drunk Mummy said...

I find it hard to support Henman because I can't bear to align myself with a frenzied mass of 'fans' foaming at the mouth and cheering at his opponent's double faults. These people are not sports fans, or tennis fans - just flag waving half-wits.

Mopsa said...

I agree M&M, it's much more cheering being around folks who keep their pecker up. The nihilism can get terribly tedious once you've past teenage years. Otherwise we'd do nothing other than listen to Leonard Cohen songs and only walk in the rain. That's fine - but only in small doses.

muddyboots said...

can't say l'm bothered about Henman losing. UK tennis players seem to have no real fight or drive to succeed, all a bit too cushy perhaps

Omega Mum said...

I think quite a few people did say that to Churchill - wasn't there a lot of debate for longer than we think about some policy of living with A. Hitler?

ziggi said...

we won the cricket today!

Anonymous said...

I was in the pub this afternoon [4ish?] and there was a serbian guy playing, who looked like a younger, hairier, version of Goran. Can't remember the name, but marks out of ten, girls / ?

lady macleod said...

I am the eternal optimist and I say cheer on. Some days it will be fitting and some days it will be fighting the good fight.

Well said you and well said, SAHD.

The Moroccans remember when Scotland beat them at football in '98! Here we are known as kings of football! Somewhere in the world you are a hero. Well done, good show Henman.

Marianne said...

'Lose your dreams and You
Might Lose your mind.
Is life Unkind?'

Dreams are what spur us on. There is something very plucky about someone who will fight to the death - very British Bulldog.

Orhan Kahn said...

You have quite a well written passion for the sport. I'm more of a football-in-hand type of sports lover.

debio said...

Well, M&M, as I see it, your colleague epitomises the culture of mediocrity which pervades the UK. After ten years of the Tony Blair 'dumbing down' club there is a whole generation accepting ordinariness. The hard working entrepreneur is at best sneered at and at worst taxed out of sight and, should he make any real dosh, is accused of playing the system.
OK if you're a vacuous, self-publicist - the celebrities are revered as gods - and no-one begrudges them their money.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

What's with this "British" stuff? Remember that Murray derided England in the last World Cup by saying he'd be rooting for Paraguay! Personally, I shall never forgive him and I hope that his Wimbledon journey is identical to Henman's... the nearly man. We have much to be proud about in this sceptred isle and like you I dislike the fashionable cynicism and unpatriotic smirking that seem to be part of these modern times. I say "For Harry and for England!"

dulwichmum said...

I am so glad we have the same opinion re the Daily Hate Mail!

DM