The poem Auld Lang Syne was written by the great Scottish poet Robert Burns. It signifies new beginnings by reflecting on the good old days. Just like tennis at Wimbledon. Every year brings a new chapter of grass court tennis wizardry at its best that adds another glorious chapter to the storied book that is Wimbledon.
But if this year's Wimbledon has taught us anything, it is that nobody cares about tennis. That's right. Tennis as we know it, is dead. Or any rate goes into coma during these two weeks.
It is all about stories these days. Sports editors all over the world are eagerly poring over their thesauri (2009 editions) looking for superlatives to describe Federer's amazing rise from the ashes to triumph. The entire commentary team of ESPN and NBC have nightly wet dreams of an all-Williams final on the women's side.
And most of Britain is farting chicken tikkas and belching warm beer at the prospect of Andy Murray winning Britain’s first Wimbledon since the time that anybody still cared about tennis in Britain. Or cricket for that matter. These days it is all about footboll, innit? And all this for a Scotsman.
In the 2nd century AD, the Roman emperor Publius Aelius Hadrianus, better known as Hadrian, built a wall near Caledonia, or present day Scotland. He built this wall ostensibly to demarcate Roman territory, but the real reason was to keep out pesky Scottish immigrants.
Get that? Even the Romans couldn’t stand the Scots. Roman gladiators fought lions and tigers barehanded, but they couldn’t deal with this country. This country of lochs and whiskey-drinking golfers, the emblem of which looks a red orang-utan that has just been dealt a 1200v electrical jolt. No I am serious, look it up.
Scotland has a deep and interesting relationship with England. It hates it. And thanks to Mel Gibson and Danny Boyle, most people outside of Britain think the country’s history is divided into two phases: Ye Olde Time when William Wallace and his merry men pranced around in tweed skirts, and Ye New Time of teenagers in Edinburgh getting high on heroin.
Ok, back to tennis. What is that you say? Yes, I did mention tennis is dead, didn’t I? Well, back to Andy Murray, then.
There is something about this kid that gives me the heebie-jeebies, or the willies if you prefer. It is not the impossibly wide mouth that goes Gaaaahh each time he wins a point or those sharp-as-passing-shot canine teeth that look like they can tear up the wooden net posts chip from chip.
Neither is it the flashing of the biceps to show that he is all grown up now. Is it the anti-Federer trash talk, then? No, that’s not it. His constant revving up of the gullible crowd that includes dainty old ladies who have just had their tea (with a spot of milk) and their little biscuits, maybe? Disturbing yes, but heebie-jeebie-generator, no. Well what is it then?
There can no other explanation for this.
He is a robot. Yes, Andy Murray is a salacious Scottish cyborg (try saying that thrice in quick succession).
Consider this: He doesn’t lose. Valiantly or otherwise. His game has no known weaknesses. He makes little to no unforced errors. His emotions although impressively varying and deceptively unpredictable (not!), seem programmed. Even his roller-coaster matches, such as the win last night over that other Swiss guy whose-name-is-not-Federer seem designed to evoke the Tim Henman experience. His post-match interviews consist of just the right sound-bytes that puts a smile on every journalist's face.
Robert Burns is widely regarded as the father of romantic literature. But he lived a long time ago. Andy Murray has replaced even Sean Connery as the de facto Scottish icon of the modern era. A pity then, that he is not human.
Burns must be doing somersaults in his grave.