Ed Lines

THE last time I can remember being in Wimbledon it was on Ladies Finals Day, 1995 and I was at a house party just down the road from the tennis club. We didn’t even have it on the telly.

I remember it not just because I was driving (thus not drinking) but because I was talked into staying over and letting my hair down (I still had a fullish head back then). As a result I’m pretty sure that was the night my son was conceived.

And yes, the wife was there in Wimbledon too, seeing as you ask.

Steffi Graf beat Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and the day we all arose with hangovers (and one lady with a bun in the oven) Pete Sampras beat Boris Becker in four sets.

As many ways as the Lockwood world changed that weekend, the Wimbledon location was pure coincidence. Certainly anything in the air didn’t influence our son’s tennis abilities. He might as well swing a frying pan.

And just as I’d never been bothered about attending the tennis at Wimbers before, neither have I since. I suppose if someone offered a freebie I’d give it a whirl, but I’m far more a pint and a pie than a strawberries and Pimms type.

All of that notwithstanding, I was absolutely chuffed to bits for Andy Murray, the first Scot to win the title in 117 years .

Because no, as much as I’d willingly take an oversized chain saw and cut the Sweaty Socks (rhyming slang) adrift to go drill their oil wells to their hearts’ content, this was not a victory for ‘British’ tennis.

Forget 77 years since Fred Perry won the title. No Scot had got near it since Robert the Bruce traded in his claymore for a catgut-strung tennis bat (I have no evidence that he ever did, by the way).

Indeed, upon the emergence of Andy Murray it came as some surprise to me at least to learn that Scotland had any tennis courts, let alone star quality players.

Sports-wise, I thought they all either got drunk and kicked lumps out of each other at Celtic-Rangers matches, played that skatey-curling game in the Winter Olympics, or for the ‘real’ men in kilts, turned their hands to rugby union where the heights of their ambitions every year are finishing above the Italians in the Six Nations.

Beyond that, ‘tossing’ old telegraph poles about six feet was as far as the Scots got, wasn’t it? (with respect to a few mad racing drivers and Sir Chris Hoy – and I’m not sure driving and cycling out of Scotland as fast as you can should qualify as sport, anyway).

 

So it gets right up my nose that poor old Murray has had his sensational victory appropriated by everyone from the BBC to David Cameron. I take my hat off to the lad for not telling them all to get stuffed – and it would be a Tam o’Shanter too, if I could get my hands on one.

Why my beef?

Here’s why. A few weeks ago the US Open was won by Justin Rose, the first Englishman to lift that trophy since Tony Jacklin in 1970, and the first Englishman to win a Major since Nick Faldo in 1996.

I didn’t see a single reference to Rose being British.

When Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France last year, was he suddenly appropriated by the Celtic nations to raise their own generally miserable demeanours (apart from the Irish who circumvent that natural trait by consuming copious amounts of Guinness?)

No, he was the Englishman Sir Bradley Wiggins. If Luke Donald, Ian Poulter or Lee Westwood win The Open at Muirfield, what do you reckon their nationality will be?

Because of the historical nature of the event, I would have loved to have been at Wimbledon on Sunday afternoon to witness that achievement.

And, in the unlikely even of me being in the Royal Box behind David Cameron, I would have gladly held the Saltire flag aloft with SNP leader Alex Salmond.

Well done Andy Murray, a Scottish hero.

You and your mates can still have your independence though, for my money (oh I forgot – it is my money, and our money, which is why they’re going nowhere).

 

SPEAKING of Andy Murray and sport, and do any of you ever believe yourself to possess a ‘jinx’?

When I was an impressionable teen, and in the wake of the George Best/Denis Law era, I was a Manchester Utd fan. I followed them firstly in the old second division, the era when Tommy Docherty brought back flying wingers in Steve Coppell and Gordon Hill. It was a passionate if reasonably brief affair.

These days I haven’t much truck with any football, generally considering them a collective of snarling, over-paid, big-girls-blouses. I do still watch out for Man Utd’s scores but I can guarantee you that if they’re playing a big game (Chelsea, Man City, someone in Europe etc), the minute I walk in and sit in front of the telly, they’ll fall apart like a cheap suit. It happens every time.

Remember when they won the Champions League in 1999, having been 1-0 down against Bayern Munich going into injury time? I was housed in a hotel in Gloucestershire and watching in my room.

Convinced the game was over I walked down to the bar, where I’d started watching before a group of Arsenal fans came in and started cheering for Bayern.

By the time I got downstairs it was 2-1 to United.  See? I only had to turn my back and up popped Sheringham and Solskjaer! And did I get any credit?

Which brings us to Andy Murray. I swear, if I watch him, he loses. Time and again.

On Sunday afternoon I was listening to him breeze to victory on the car radio (that doesn’t count for some reason). I walked into the house and he was 2-0 up in sets, and had three break points in the third.

He lost the next six points and it looked for all the world like Djokovic was coming back with a vengeance. The wife and son threw me out into the garden to go do something useful.

When Murray got three Championship points up, they let me back in. Next thing you know it was advantage to the Serb. Back into the garden.

They finally allowed me in to see the presentation, convinced I couldn’t do any more damage.

There’s some kind of weird science at work, I swear. And just to be on the safe side, if I was new Man Utd manager David Moyes and Andy Murray, I’d pay me a hefty bribe in order to find something else to do when they’re in action.

 

NO SOONER had I waxed lyrical on our misguided British idea that we are a democracy, than the Unite union’s alleged fixing of the selection process was exposed. I hope someone goes to jail, I really do. 

And much as I wouldn’t trust Ed Miliband to walk to school on his own, I’d like to be able to praise him for acting swiftly over the Falkirk scandal. I will wait just a tad though, because his decisiveness might just be a panic reaction in the knowledge how deeply in trouble Labour/Unite are. And if that’s the case, what’s the betting big brother David, in his cosy job over in New York, is kicking himself like mad!

 

I’D LIKE to congratulate the European Court of Human Rights which on Tuesday ruled that British ‘all life’ jail tariffs for the most heinous of murderers are “inhuman and degrading”. Thank you, monsieurs.

It won’t make a blind bit of difference to the fates of people like Jeremy Bamber, who murdered his entire family, or the other despicable people behind bars on this sentence.

What it will do is raise the bar of antagonism amongst ordinary Britons to the point where staying in this ludicrous, PC-ridden institution is not acceptable.

It should hasten a British Bill of Rights, departure from the ECHR and ultimately the EU itself.

Politicians might be greedy but they’re not daft. As much as the majority would gladly stay in both, they know which side their bread’s buttered. They can’t benefit from EU wheezes if they’ve been booted out of Westminster.

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