Simply the Best

Isn’t it a pleasure amid the relentless media-led gloom about Scotland to celebrate an unalloyed triumph by one of our own? We’re so used to being told how laughably incapable we are that you can almost hear the grudging acceptance… ‘Oh, sure, we’ve got Andy Murray but only because he trained in Spain. Anyway Novak’s off form and Roger’s past it.’

The corrupted national psyche that is trained to fail struggles to believe that someone without privileges can be as good as anybody else and even, at times, better. And you have to whisper that bit. The idea that Scotland or the Scots might actually utter a claim to be the best at anything sparks a mass Shhhh as if someone who really does know best hears us and laughs at the presumption.

We’re allowed to be world champion boozers and record-breaking obesity kings but Scotland forgets its place if it imagines there might be a guaranteed place in the global order for a tiny, bankrupt basket case. *Even if the mad Nats get their way and we go it alone, imagine the catastrophe of our debt, the drastic cuts in services, the hike in living costs, the exit of companies. Nobody’s ever done it before and succeeded. Except for Ireland, obviously. Losing people and jobs at the time of independence, with a rural economy, only patchy native industry and few natural resources – not to mention a civil war – the Republic nevertheless today is forecast to end the year as Europe’s fastest growing economy.

Or New Zealand, clearly. When the UK joined the EEC, it ended the lucrative trade deal between the nations which, although ameliorated by temporary arrangements, forced New Zealand into diversification and a search for new markets – all at the time of a huge oil price rise when NZ imported all its oil. It’s now one of the happiest and well-run countries on the global index.

But, you see, they’re not Scottish. So Irish and Kiwi can do…Scottish not much. That’s why I love Andy Murray. He refuses to be an also-ran. That’s what we did in the indyref – declared ourselves also-rans – people who regard ourselves as unworthy. Just not good enough to run ourselves and to forge functioning, friendly relations with our near neighbours that would reassure those who value strong British ties.

Ach, I know you can’t take one person’s story and extrapolate to the whole nation but, come on, I’m a journalist. It’s what we do…And there is something elemental about Murray that speaks of the Scotland we know. I don’t care where he was born. That isn’t what makes him a Scot. It’s in his attitude and demeanour, in his fragile confidence, his trembling emotion, his spasms of frustration. And it’s in his unflinching honesty about his failures and shortcomings. Any PR adviser would work night and day to make him sound sparkier and upbeat but he remains doggedly dour, proudly thrawn, even turning his reputation into humourous self-deprecation.

There is an attitude bred in us that is suspicious of the contrived. I don’t know anywhere else where people who have manifestly motored through the social mobility barriers with degrees, position and wealth still insist on calling themselves working class. Even when we know we’ve escaped from the manual labour family and the council estate, it remains a badge of pride to have that background. It says that some part of us will never change, that there is no desire to desert our roots and that social advancement never weakens our origins. It’s a form of solidarity and it’s held out to another generation like a rescue ladder. This way, son. Take my hand…

I like that the Murrays are in most ways an ordinary family – state school, even split family – when so many of the success stories in Britain revolve around posh schools and Oxbridge. I like that Andy manages to look awkward and a bit embarrassed in his kilt. And I like that his mum is still there beside him. I used to fear that there was something unnatural about a pushy parent never letting her son be himself (as I would have felt). I just didn’t know how they really were – a family. And as time has gone on, my respect grows for Judy Murray as single mother, family helmsman, constant supporter and, well…as woman. She brought them up, believed in the boys and backed them. There was no Tim Henman Oxforshire childhood with tennis court in the back garden and family connections. Their story is really an old one – if you want it, you can have it. But only if you believe.

Of course, the reality is we can’t all succeed but they make us feel we might. If they can, so can we. The Murrays provide the inspiration that allows the rest of us to dream. And I bet there are Scots out there today touched by an air of defiance because of Murray’s achievement, privately savouring and sharing the success. Scottish success.

*Isn’t it amazing how every warning of disaster we were given during the indyref is now being reversed in headlines before our eyes?

UK economy heads for £100b black hole.

Ordinary families will lose £2400 a year.

Brexit to force up cost of living.

Companies prepare to leave London.

Social care faces breakdown.

Britain to suffer hard Brexit from EU.

Britain’s naval defences woeful.

Britain’s spy security threatened by Brexit.

Clyde naval orders reduced.

UK loses triple A credit rating.

Pound tumbles.

The list goes on…

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23 thoughts on “Simply the Best

  1. You might mention progression of many more than the Murray family when you examine Scotland, but I’m proud of their staggering place – now in history – and what it means.

    Compare with the ugly face – Mr UKIP on BBC-QT, Orange and pointy – fearing a 2nd referendum and spittle washing his fellow loons. We have the beautiful and the ugly – and its beginning to show more clearly that the ugly are running thin on criticism.

    Lets take Rail. Work today – 1 hour late – with a few others on other lines the same – London. constantly bad and no one tiny moan in the media about Transport Ministers heads rolling. In Alba – its full attack speed cos Labour privatized and the SNP have to deal with its crap. Power to the media – holding nothing to account w.r.t PFI or … well .. anything ‘union’.

    One point. Companies prepare – mine has finished preparation. Its like sitting in a circus cannon, waiting for the big’50 top.

  2. One of your best, Dereek

  3. Derek. You are so right in this. I cannot believe some of the negative comments, and, indeed, downright nasty comments, that have appeared in some media articles and comments on these. These have made me so angry. Andy Murray is terrific – and he is a true Scot, in his attitudes. He gets angry with himself. He’s self-deprecating. But he is the best. We, Scotland, lay claim to the world’s number 1 single male tennis player. And he is one of ours. Suck it up!

  4. A great commentary Derek and hopefully some bods out there are paying attention at this point, for they WERE warned.

    They were warned in great detail about trusting Brown and his ‘guarantees’ on devolution. They were warned about the lies concerning pensions spread by BT. They were warned about trusting Westminster over Scotland’s membership of the EU and they were warned over trusting HMGs promises about those ‘Broad Shoulders’.

    They cannot ever say they weren’t.

    They simply chose to believe the worst in themselves, the worst of their population and the very worst of the propaganda they were fed on a daily and STILL ongoing basis. They chose to wrap themselves in the comfort blanket of ‘better the devil you know’, than have confidence in themselves and their nations rights and the aspirations of those who believed in them.

    I am, of course, discounting the unionist ideologues for obvious reasons. I’m thinking of those who voted no out of misplaced caution, outright fear and intimidation, or simple protectionism (self interests). By this point I’m hoping that they should now think long and hard about that possible second opportunity hoving into view. I’m also hoping they are aware we need their aid to halt this ongoing societal and economic catastrophe, but that with their aid, stop it we CAN.

    The alternative of continued Westminster and in particular Tory government for the foreseeable future isn’t really worth thinking about and yes, THAT is another warning.

  5. Clips from the i paper account of Andy Murray’s victory – Djokovic was under the Murray hammer…as the leviathan across the net tightened a fist,… this beast is something else,….only at the very end did Murray lapse into the familiar corpus of febrile facial expressions…tennis inflicts upon Murray a kind of madness,,,a countering, jabbering, ball of self-abuse.
    Presumably the writer ran out of space to describe the joy of Andy Murray’s fragrant English wife. ( And she does seem to be a lovely natured person).The Beauty and the Beast.

    What hurts the English Lawn Tennis Association is that the Murray family have achieved their successes in spite of them.

    * Isn’t it amazing how every warning…etc… needs to be on billboards.

  6. Spot on, as ever. But don’t forget the abuse he got for the ‘any team but England’ joke, and then for supporting YES. He walks a tricky path and knows the media are always ready to pounce!

    • I see there are calls for Andy to get a Knighthood and also queries about why it hasn’t happened already. I like to think (hope) that he’s been approached and in view of his support for Yes in 2014, said thanks, but no thanks.

  7. And then there is Lord Forsyth of Drumlean to contend with. He of the council hoose in Arbroath who climbed the social ladder starting with St Andrews University.

    I have no doubt he genuinely feels Scottish, hence his great scheme to re-patriate the Stone of Scone to make us all feel better (and also a bit mischievous for those who think it is a fake).

    It is when I look at the Edward Mountains and Donald Cameron of Lochiels of this world that I think we have a long way to go to rid us of these interlopers and self- aggrandisers of this world.

  8. Thanks for that Derek. I feel so good for having read this piece. Also so many posters with positive messages giving me hope for the future.

  9. Great piece!

  10. When Andy was very good but not yet the best (lacking the machine-like consistency of a Fed or Djokovic), no one ever said of those players ‘he’s lucky Murray’s not quite on form or he’d not be world number one’. And nor should it be said in reverse now. That’s the point of the world rankings – they are meant to highlight which player, of them all, has been in best form in recent times. But people trying to do down someone who’s achieved so much will refuse to see that always because they are too mean-spirited to just applaud.

  11. Good piece,but I don’t know why the Murray parents parted, and I am pleased that the brothers are close to their mother, but no mention of their father is I think rather unfair
    I see him on TV on various occasions giving the boys his presence; if he doesn’t appear as often as Judy he may have other things to do with his life. Not a sin.

  12. I’ll never forget the Monday morning ‘Call Kaye’ after Murray won Wimbledon the first time round. The main topic was whether we could call him one of our own given he had trained in Spain as a teenager. What other country in the world would lower themselves to even consider it worthy of discussion? Haven’t listened to it since.

    • The converse of that is Hamish Mcinnes the Scottish mountaineer who opined that the Alps provided good practice for winter climbing in Scotland!

  13. ” Except for Ireland, obviously. Losing people and jobs at the time of independence, with a rural economy, only patchy native industry and few natural resources – not to mention a civil war – the Republic nevertheless today is forecast to end the year as Europe’s fastest growing economy.”

    let that be the starting point for YES2, a civil war and 50 years of austerity and mass emigration, til we join the EU and get loads of American multinationals to Headquarter in our country, just don’t tax them onerously, or at all.
    Then we can have a debt fueled property binge where we can roar like a Tiger, and when the music stops a further 10 years austerity max, under Berlin’s auspices , with the debt outstanding we will be the fastest growing economy in Europe for a year or so , till the next country comes along…..

    Would go down great on the doorsteps that “yes there’ll be cuts far worse than the Tories, it will be longer , you will pay to visit a Dr, there may well be workfare……….but it will be ours , a Scottish round of cuts , imposed on Scots, by Scots”

    One wonders if a sense of British identity will flourish in such circumstance.

    • I’m pretty sure the point was that Scotland doesn’t have and/or is extremelt unlikely to have any of the difficulties Ireland faced. Scotland does have significant natural resources, a diverse and pretty successful economy, an entirely non-violent independence movement and a pretty well established and efficient governmental machine to manage the process. Scottish independence looks likely to be much, MUCH smoother than it was for Ireland.

      • Exactly right Kenny. Papko seems to have (purposely?) failed entirely to appreciate the juxtaposition between the circumstances of Scotland and Ireland which Derek was obviously highlighting.

        • There were two points I was trying to make at Kenny and Gary

          Firstly Ireland wanted independence above all , or certainly in light of the civil war , the side that wanted independence above all, won.
          It was another 50 years till they joined the EU, whose funding they were a beneficiary, (its only in 2015 that Ireland pays more into the EU , than she gets out )
          Likewise the lowest corporation tax rates in the EU , attract American multinationals.
          She may well be the “fastest growing economy this year “, that’s just a random figure, a different country every year will be “fastest growing” and tends to suggest they recovered from a low starting point.(as the graphs for all economies undulate between boom and bust ).
          But fair play to them anyway.

          The Scots on the other hand could not get over the line with “50 years of milk and honey “, you may well change the tune and the idea of drastic cuts for the common good, will get the country to tights in a decade to so,

          But that’s not a mile away from the current policy of the Tory Govt .

    • Except of course Brussels would have no role to play in that scenario UNLESS we join the Euro. Which we can’t as we don’t have an independent currency stable in ERM II for 2 years. The EU doesn’t force accession countries to take the Euro and makes them wait for it after Accession while their currency sits in ERM II until it is stable enough.

      The Czechs, Danes and Swedes have not been forced into it. Their currencies aren’t even in ERM II and there is no mechanism to force them.

      With our own Central Bank we can devalue in that situation, as Iceland did. They then fished their way back to health. We have fish, whisky, food, tourism, education and oil.

      To expand Derek’s point about NZ, I was there while all that was going on, but NZ did not have to bail out its banks in the Crash. At the moment the Kiwi Dollar is high, with the pound low my sister and her family over from Auckland in London couldn’t believe how cheap stuff was. They went shopping while I took my nephew to the Natural History Museum and Hamleys.

  14. Well written and upliftingly great. Many tennis players have trained abroad, but only the yoon cringe distorts the issue when Scottish successes become world successes.
    One wonders, though, if Murray and his brother had originated from dahn sath what the EBC media would have been like? Wall to wall coverage? Constant repeats?
    Great news for all of is who do not see football as the only “sport” as a measure of Scottish greatness.

  15. Andy, the Team GB Butcher’s Apron Pole Holder, should make up his mind on his true allegiance. He accepted a slap on the wrist, years ago, for daring to wear Saltire wrist bands at the Holy Ground of Union Jack waving Wimbledon. He is an International star now and can afford to stand up to the Brit Nats if he dared chose. The Black American athletes, plus Mohammed Ali were not afraid to stand up and be counted and suffered heavily for it. Too many sell out for the, bedroom tax dodger, Queen’s baubles. or a bike shed in Manchester. To pretend that “sport” is free from politics is akin to saying that EBC is objective and unbiased. Aye Right!

  16. The boy done good – and as one of his past “doubters” I am doubly pleased to have been proved wrong.

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