Andy Murray, Wimbledon Champion 2013: he’s only gone and bloody done it!

One of those quick illustrations where you sort of wish you didn't own the Copyright

Sometimes you sort of wish you didn’t really own the Copyright…

As Wimbledon 2013 commenced and everyone started doubting *Andy Murray’s skills even when he played really well, such is (or was) the national past-time, various people said to me things like “you should go there and watch it in person, soak up the atmosphere and all that.” Except I am boring like that. The way I see it, balls to the atmosphere, and double balls (pair of balls?) to the sunshine and the sensations: more than anything I want to actually see the tennis without people’s big fat irritating heads getting in the way. For doing that, nothing beats watching it on the laptop screen, live as it happens, close to the essential amenities and food sources that I require at such a mentally punishing time. I know a lot of people would’ve set their own grandmother on fire and pushed her down a very large flight of stairs just to get a seat in Centre Court, but for me I simply cannot allow myself to be interrupted. Plus, the way life goes, it’s very possible that I’d need a wee just at a very crucial moment, potentially ruining everything. It’s a good thing I wasn’t there in person, then…else when Andy finally put Djokovic down, it might have all suddenly got a bit too much.

(Put Djokovic down. A very dramatic way of putting it! Almost as if Andy was the vet and Novak was a sick, tired dog who could no longer do the splits. Oh, what a thought. This analogy doesn’t really work, of course, seeing as due to their specific physiology, dogs can’t even attempt the splits, so I decided it was better off being in brackets. On second thoughts, it probably would’ve been better to liken Djokovic to a cat…on third thoughts, it was a crap analogy.)

I was a complete non-stop verbal nightmare, sitting there watching that relentless, amazing final. Firstly, I made my girlfriend Jen experience every moment of it with me, even though she isn’t the least bit interested in tennis (she had the optional choice of doing some sort of practical activity like Henna’ing her candles while we watched, but decided against it in the end – probably wise as I’d only have kept screaming “he’s winning, he’s still winning!” in Jen’s face, potentially leading to some very wonkily-designed candles), and secondly, I kept clapping like a toddler whenever anyone hit the ball. One thing nobody could say was that I wasn’t prepared. Twenty minutes before the historic final began, having forced us to return from the shops at a strict time to allow me ample minutes to get ready, I gathered the things I would need to not have to get up during the course of the thing. It would be bad enough that I’d have to go to the toilet every so often…I couldn’t have my desire for food and treats getting in the way of things even more.

It turned out I had planned things well. Meticulously, you could say. I was proud of myself. With two large glasses of water there within easy-reaching distance, I would easily stay hydrated, and with various snacks, I’d have things to comfort me when things got hard for Andy (and if need be, I could always send Jen off).

By the half-way point I was screaming and shouting and really getting on Jen’s nerves (even though she loves me, giving me plenty of leeway to act like a tennis dork as and when I wish to). When Djokovic started a) arguing with the umpire** then b) slipping all over the place***, you could see that Andy could be in with half a chance. I say half a chance because, let’s be honest, we all thought Novak would come back at him, creating a scenario almost as hideous as the one I described earlier, where a grandmother in dire circumstances was mentioned heading towards some stairs.

But he didn’t. He couldn’t. And with that Andy Murray actually went and won.

Andy Murray, the world’s least likely stand-up comedian, finally Wimbledon Champion in 2013. Brilliant! I just wish I’d had enough faith in his skills to put some money on him at the bookies…

* I was going to say “poor Andy Murray,” but learning about the £1.6 million prize money quickly changed my mind. Did you hear? He’s just donated it all to charity!

** The umpire was a bit thick, wasn’t he? Even though I wanted Andy to win, that umpire was definitely biased…

*** Up until that point, I had no idea that Djokovic was capable of losing his balance, so this was a shocking and lovely surprise!


Bolt V Blake: The Men’s 100 Metre Final — It’s About To Go Off!

Tonight was cheese & wine night at my brother’s place; a fine evening spent with mutual friends, where the only real issues were finding enough chairs and deciding on which cheese to eat first (the brie was a favourite). On the TV was a recording of the day’s Olympics events — all the swimming action, along with Jess Ennis blitzing her 100 metre hurdles heat with brand-new British, Olympic and Heptathlon hurdles records in HD! — followed by a

Wait, I should have said cheese, wine & big conversation night at my brother’s. You’ve probably guessed what one of the main topics of conversation was by now. If you haven’t, you either a) haven’t paid enough attention to this blog, or b) you just don’t care about what is arguably the greatest track & field event at this year’s London Olympics.

I’m not the most patriotic person in the world, and I’m definitely not the biggest sports fan, but here are a few reasons why I think this Sunday’s main event will be well worth watching (even if the notion of sprint-training is less appealing than being stuck in a lift for 8 hours with Frankie Boyle…especially the case if your name’s Rebecca Adlington…).

1: It’s two men running as fast as humans can physically go without either passing out or dying. I don’t give a shit who you are and what you like: that’s good TV.

2: The men’s 100 metres is about as competitive as life gets here on planet Earth. Are you the kind of person who feels a sense of intense irrational joy when you see someone do something trivial not quite as good as you can? If you feel immediately lifted when witnessing a stranger or loved-one park badly, adore overtaking slow cyclists while out on your bike, or get a disturbing amount of pleasure from watching an old person try and text on their ancient phone while becoming visibly distressed while doing it, then you are without doubt a closet 100 metres fan!

3: There hasn’t been a showdown as anticipated as this for a long time in athletics. Even better, the Usain Bolt Versus Yohan Blake story adds a unique twist. On the surface it might seem more interesting if Blake and Bolt were bitter rivals, but actually, I think the fact that they’re training partners and friends creates a more unusual and compelling dynamic.

4: Even if you haven’t been following the charismatic Usain Bolt story for the last few years, you’ll likely have become aware of just how legendary the man has become. If Bolt gets beat on Sunday — something that’s likely to happen if he doesn’t get a great start or does a false-start, leading to instant disqualification under the new rules — it’ll be a massive upset and could potentially mark the beginning of a new champion. At the very least, it’ll prove that when Blake beat Bolt at the recent Jamaican Trials, it wasn’t just a fluke.

That’s if…somehow, I doubt Bolt’s going to let it go so easily…

The Olympic Games Opening Ceremony: Memorable TV

Copyright issues mean that I can’t legally draw what I wanted to draw. If I did, I’d immediately get into trouble. Instead, in the spirit of guerrila illustrating and sticking two fingers up to the controlling forces of this planet, I have chosen to draw 5 interlocking triangles which may or may not represent a very famous symbol connected with this blog post

I’ve personally always struggled with the amount of money that the Olympics costs to host/produce, and the fact we’re in a recession did mean that when preparations kicked in, I had a good old moan about it. However, this post is not about moaning, it’s about celebration. No matter what your stance on how the transport network will cope, or some of the dubious sponsors connected with the games, tonight’s opening Ceremony was impressive, if only for the amazing lack of knowledge that the commentators possessed about precisely what was going on. Here are my more positive highlights.

1: This post starts with a personal highlight. Before the Ceremony started, an old-fashioned English ice-cream van came slowly down our road, complete with Croatian driver. I purchased a 99 Flake for the first time in years and my sister, who is visiting, told me an outrageous story of how she dropped her last 99 Flake the second after she bought it. A bad way for a 99 Flake to go. You know you’re getting old when a 99 Flake story sounds outrageous…

2: Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins came on and rang a massive bell to mark the start of the Ceremony, doing so casually, almost as if he was sleep-walking or thought this was a dress-rehearsal (or maybe both combined).

3: The Tolkien-esque hill with spiral path and ancient tree, surrounded by a traditional old English village. I loved it, but what I loved more was when the tree took off like the world’s slowest rocket and then, surprise!, loads of miners came crawling out to mark the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. It really reminded me of Ghostbusters, actually, when all the ghosts walked through the city. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what Danny Boyle had in mind.

4: The general dream-like atmosphere of it all. Again, it doesn’t matter what your opinion of the Olympics or elitism or dodgy sponsor associations is – it was one hell of a history lesson.

5: When the giant Olympic rings showered rain-light and an impressive lava-stream weaved its way across the ground. I imagine mums and dads all over the world had to field a lot of questions when this happened, like “Daddy, how did they do that?” Makes me feel lucky that I haven’t had children yet, because if I had of done then I have no idea what I’d have said to them. I’d have definitely had to lie.

6: The recorded bit where Daniel Craig – sorry, Bond – met the Queen. A nice surprise. The camera-people seemed to be obsessed with the Queen’s corgis, and this fixation remained until we followed Bond and the Queen into a helicopter…which the Queen then parachuted out of with comic effect! (It was genuinely funny, actually.)

7: When the floor was turned into a giant hospital with beds everywhere. It did seem to be like one enormous advertisement for the NHS, but despite this, it made being sick seem fun again, so there’s something to be said for that.

8: The weird demon creatures that appeared to mark the amazing history of Great British children’s literature. Each one looked to be modelled on the creatures from British hit film Attack The Block. Or at least how those same creatures might look if you starved them for several months and gave them only sugar.

Diving superstar Tom Daley in an alternative universe where the aim is to create the biggest splash using just your belly and under-arms

9: The ingenious range of creepy giant monsters on display. A terrible and hastily designed/constructed 20-foot Voldermort from the Harry Potter films and the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang promised enough nightmares to last a billion children an entire life-time.

10: One of the commentators claiming that all the dancers were NHS doctors and nurses. Er, no they weren’t. At least not all of them. I didn’t see one person who looked like a clueless dad there and you’re not telling me the NHS doesn’t have a few hundred-thousand of them.

11: I kept wondering if the cast of Hollyoaks would appear and that was not a highlight, I can tell you. It really shouldn’t be on this list but I’m sure you’ll agree, it was distressing.

12: Learning French while watching pure TV excitement. I’ve forgotten it all now, but as they kept announcing things in French I was sure that some of it was sinking in. One day it’ll come out, probably at exactly the wrong moment.

13: This one’s debatable: Mr Bean – played by Rowan Atkinson – playing the fool sitting at a keyboard, as the London Symphony Orchestra played a classic tune which I cannot remember the name of. I am expecting a backlash for writing this, but I stand by this statement: I loved growing up with Mr Bean as a role-model.

14: All the amazing British music and actors and songs which were played throughout the ceremony. It really is incredible how much good stuff has come out of Great Britain since…well, let’s not be stingy here. Since forever!

15: Loads of people looking like they were genuinely enjoying themselves. It was great TV, even for cynical people.

16: When they played the West Ham football club anthem from classic hooligan boys movie Green Street, while, on screen, a female and male actor pretended to meet for the very first time. This was a bizarre contrast, since Green Street is to violence on British film what Blue Peter was to being selective about handing out badges. It was also followed by a montage of kisses which surely must have made the Queen go “Danny…Oh!”

17: Dizzee Rascal. He lit the place up.

18: Sir Tim Berners seated behind a desk in front of a computer. And no, I didn’t have a bloody clue who the hell he was either and yes, I felt ashamed. Sir Tim Berner is a downright genius for developing the basis of the Internet, it has to be said, but not exactly the kind of bloke you’d want to bump into at the supermarket after not seeing him since secondary school and you both started talking, as you do, about what you’d achieved since being 16.

19: The 2 minute silence to commemorate the brave men, women and children who lost their lives in the World Wars.

20: When Muhammad Ali came on at the end…

21: No big accidents, incidents or anything bad going wrong.

22: 80,000 people waiting for Steve Redgrave to deliver the Olympic torch after its journey of 12,800 miles.

23: Learning that “Olympism” is actually a real word.

24: The construction workers of the stadium being acknowledged.

25: All the blue lights and surreal undersea-atmosphere reminding me of Avatar.

26: The lighting of the cauldron. A gorgeous idea…footage that will truly live forever. There really is very little point in me attempting to explain it here for people who didn’t see it, but let’s just say this: if modern art was always like this, life would be amazing…

27: Hey Jude…


1: All the nations coming on with their flags in a way which seemed a bit lazy to me. Most of the people carrying the flags look drugged, or as if they’re off out on a Las Vegas Stag Party. A few of of them must have been drugged to have been coerced into putting on some of those outfits…

2: Disappointingly, shockingly, there was no ode to a) fish and chips, Great Britain’s best and most extravagant fish-based meal, b) grumpy old men like you can find in an English pub, c) our love of moaning about the weather, or d) the Loch Ness Monster. Come on, you can’t forget the Loch Ness Monster! Also not featuring, unless I missed it, were e) Jimmy Saville & The Crankies and f) Cilla Black. I was really hoping she’d sing “surprise, surprise, the unexpected hits you between the eyes!” from hit 1980s/90s show Blind Date. Lastly, completely missing were g) sighing and queuing – two things which we are experts at. It seems a shame to miss them both out, don’t you think?

3: No Mr Blobby!

NOTE: sometimes writers make mistakes, publish a blog then wake up in the morning and realise that hundreds of people from across the world have witnessed and probably laughed themselves silly at those mistakes…for example, in the original version of this blog post, I inexcusably said that Voldermort was a character from The Lord of the Rings. Well, as Elessartelkontar thankfully pointed out in the comments section below — along with some other good points — he quite clearly wasn’t, he was from the Harry Potter series and called Lord Voldermort. That was just my  brain getting things mixed-up. Thanks to her for saving me from possible massive embarrassment! In future, I’ll learn to double-check…

7 Things To Forget/Remember While Murray Battles Federer

Andy, doing his version of a smile, looking a bit like a demented James Marsden

Dear Andy: Right now you have much bigger things to worry about in the way of the biggest tennis game/match — I never know what to call them — of your career and our English tennis history, so I highly, highly doubt you will read this before the game/match begins. Or ever, for that matter — I mean, the fact I just wrote that made me almost wet myself with laughter. Anyway, if you do see this post then that’s not my fault, you really shouldn’t have been on your phone in the changing rooms and I think you know that, what with all our hopes resting on you, no pressure, honest. Another thing: sorry Andy but if you ever see this post, it might annoy you, so you should probably resist the urge to continue reading beyond this point. Seriously, please don’t. I do not write this with that intention — the last thing I would want to do is annoy our great tennis hope — I assure you. The following are merely observations which I have had over the years, nothing more. I wish you the very best of luck in your massive, massive tennis game/match against the outlandish Roger Federer. May you kick his arse bigtime.

7 Things To Forget/Remember While Murray Battles Federer

1) This is serious business, so forget, please, that Andy Murray’s mum looks amazingly like Andy Murray wearing a dress and smiling a lot (the smiling is the give-away that it is not AndyMurray in drag, but I highly doubt I needed to tell you that…). I know it’s going to be hard, what with the camera people keep on showing us Andy Murray’s mum’s face over and over again, but you have to try. Like I said: it’s Wimbledon…it’s serious business! Andy is no exception, of course. On a school trip to Cromer when I was 13, some of my schoolfriends remarked how much I looked like this one donkey with a big nose. It hurt very much, seeing as my nose was yet to catch up with the rest of my body. You win some you lose some, I suppose. At least you look like your mum and not an unpopular farmyard animal that you never even see on farmyards anymore and you only ever find on beaches, and hardly ever!

2) Forget that Federer is more or less a softly-spoken-cardigan-loving robot who rarely ever loses. As Murray looks perilously close to losing that next point — come on, no matter how well he plays that is going to happen — repeat to yourself: he is just a man, he is just a man, he is just a man… and under no circumstances allow it to slip into …just a man who has only gone and won everything ever, Jesus, what chance has Murray got!!! Like I said: Andy, if you are now fuming about the whole looking-like-your-mum-thing and this second point, you really shouldn’t have read beyond the aforementioned point. You too, Kim Sears his girlfriend. That was very naughty.

3) Big upsets can happen and have happened. I don’t think I need mention Nadal…

4) If Andy Murray does win, he will still give the most boring post-match interview known to man ever — this is virtually guaranteed (and highly dependant on a line official slipping some Speed into his water bottle mid-match — stranger things have happened, right?). But it doesn’t matter! And anyway, you should really be used to it by. On the upside, if he wins then I highly doubt you and the rest of the nation will really give a shit.

5) Forget about the English weather. Ah, now there’s something I am looking forward to! At least for a while.

6) One day, Federer will lose a match and suffer painful, hideous defeat. Unless he retires before that’s able to happen…but come on, where’s your optimism? Stop thinking it cannot happen.

7) Federer is an incredible tennis player, one of the best ever, so if Andy Murray loses then remember that he lost to the very best there is and he still gave it a bloody good shot. I know it’s going to emotionally destroy a lot of people if Andy doesn’t win, but come on, worse things happen. For example, this morning I found a baby grasshopper in the bathroom and it only had one rear leg — its jumping days over before they’d even begun. No! What’s sadder than a baby grasshopper that will never have the ability to jump? Exactly. So stop moaning.

Liked this? You might like — no, you WILL like, where the hell’s my optimism today? — my debut novel, The Number 3 Mystery Book, available from Amazon UK here and Amazon US here. I’m feeling generous today as well, so here you go, here’s a review. Live in the UK and want a paperback? They’re available from