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.
The list goes on…by