My father was about seven months old when we last had a British Men’s Singles Wimbledon Champion. Having waited nearly 77 years for another he nearly didn’t make it to see the next one after Andy Murray’s nerve-wracking victory over Novak Djokovitch on Sunday. The fact that the OM “literally” did not see the moment of triumph is by the by: he had managed to watch the match till 3-4 in the third set, but retired to sit in the garden as he couldn’t stand the tension. Not unusual for a man who dug the allotment rather than watch England in the ’66 world cup final.
But I can forgive him his moment of stress-relief as he is currently recovering from a triple heart by-pass operation. It was something that had rather taken him by surprise when the doctor who carried out his angiogram told him they needed to get him into the Bristol Heart Institute as soon as possible. It was a “do not pass GO, do not collect £200” Monopoly kind of moment. He thought he would be home that night, but it took another two weeks and two hospital transfers before he came home with vertical scars adorning his chest and legs. No one else was particularly taken aback by the turn of events for a man who has always carried a little more weight than is strictly necessary, who had smoked in his younger years through to middle age, and who has taken a great deal of comfort from a sedentary lifestyle in which gin and decent wine have played increasingly significant roles.
But a truly great summer of British Sport beckons, starting with the Lions’ rugby win over the Wallabies, Murray’s phenomenal success at Wimbledon, and the potential for another British win the Tour de France, maybe an Ashes victory in the cricket and – who knows – a British winner in the Open Golf always a possibility. So TOM can relax in this brilliant weather, with us providing breakfast for him, Gill coming round to do the lunch and dinner and sport all across even the most satellite-unfriendly TV.
Perhaps he might develop nerves of steel and be able to actually sit through a whole match in which he feels some allegiance to one or other combatant, but I am not so sure. I knew when I walked into the hospital to collect him that he was ready to come home. He was watching Murray’s quarter-final on hospital TV, in which Murray had just won the third set (easily) as he clawed his way back from a two set deficit.
“He’s playing awfully – he’s going to lose” was the pithy, perceptive comment from TOM.
“You’re feeling better, then?” I said.
Hopefully he will not retain a negative mindset on his own ability to recover from a metaphorical two set deficit. A triple by-pass (not to mention the lump they took out of his lung) is going to knock him back – but he will need to buck his ideas up, get a grip on the short-term goals, and actually look forward to a long hot summer of armchair sport. All things are possible…if we can get a men’s singles champion in this country, surely the OM can get a more positive outlook on life?
I remain upbeat…