There is an air of gloom over Great Britain today, one that supplants even the inherent joy we feel at having won the lottery of life by being born British.
Sorry, I mean not being born French.
It has nothing to do with the sense of loss of empire – at least not more than normal – as that particular feeling seems to have been gene spliced into our collective British DNA since the late 1940’s. It has little to do with our loss of a leading role on the world stage, as our sense of superiority and predisposition toward disdain of all things other than mentioned in Shakespeare or Dickens allows us our usual snotty reserve to function unimpaired.
As a nation we have come to terms with our sadness at the deaths of two of the former Beatles and with it the possibility of a reunion concert for the benefit of some starving nation or other, or even Mr Kite. Yes we did that almost years ago.
Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her diamond jubilee this year and that has helped us collectively to raise our happiness indicators to a national average of, “Mustn’t grumble” a major improvement on the lows of the 2008 global financial collapse when our ratings slumped to, “Oh blast” and caused national outcry.
Today we are a gloomy nation simply because there is always a short period, usually 24 – 36 hours – being enacted which follows any of our national sporting underachievement’s happening, and being accepted into our general resignation with life. Imagine if you will Winnie the Pooh’s pal Eeyore having spent a weekend taking ecstasy experiencing his come down. Well, the period from the low until he regains his normal demeanour is what we are talking about here.
The sort of mood that is worn on the face of the sufferer, that causes irritatingly jolly people to flirt with physical violence meted out by your very own fists when they exhort you to, “Cheer up!” as “It may never happen!” Oh for a Klingon hand held disruptor on such occasions. I am sure the world has no need for these people, and even Jahweh could not have imagined a role or purpose for them in his most complex of grand designs.
Of course, this feeling is nothing that can be perceived on the global financial markets. It cannot be seen or felt to form part of the Zeitgeist so many of the world’s worthy authors attempt to explain. Even those folk at CERN who have managed to be “fairly certain” there is such a thing as a Higgs Bosun (although in scientific terms it has a mass of less than four-fifths of five-eighths of fuck all) are unable to measure whether this feeling has form or substance within the range of their vastly expensive yardsticks.
For this is a sensation only akin to one experienced, one believes, by Sir Alec Guinness when he felt, “a disturbance in the force” by which I do not mean to imply that we, the British, are all Jedi’s – although we are – (these are not the conclusions you are looking for, move along) which can only be felt if you ARE British. That or one of the Dalai Lama’s innermost spiritual circle of aesthetes. For the benefit of Americans, this is the sort of thing only The Shadow or Doctor Stephen Strange – Master of the Mystical Arts – could perceive. This is a feeling that remained part of the Old World and did not cross the Atlantic with the Pilgrim Fathers.
You see, not having a Mount Olympus, Jerusalem or even the coordinates used in Prometheus, we have created our own by elevating winning the Wimbledon’s Gentlemen’s Singles title – as bestowed by the All England Tennis and Croquet Club of Wimbledon, London SW19 – to something beyond even the quest for the Grail in its level of importance, and yesterday our finest knight did battle and lost.
It was not, to be sure, a battle between good and evil. No-one could possibly accuse Roger Federer of representing the forces of darkness. He is Swiss and therefore genetically bred for immunity to such conditions, as are the rest of his yodelling chocolate creating countrymen and women. It is one of the by-products of the Swiss constitutional democracy which enshrines neutrality.
Come the final conflict on the plains of Golgotha, it is the Swiss who will be the referees.
This was a battle waged on the physical plain between two men, Federer, the embodiment of a country where people speaking four different languages have been successfully and enviably been moulded into the pre-eminently neutral country on earth, and Andy Murray, who was bred not to play tennis, but to carry the burden of the weight of expectation of a nation of ending a 70 plus year drought for a men’s singles champion.
To carry the psychic projections of a nation with any real hope of success would have required superhuman capacities, and alas, he was found to be only human after all.
So it is that on this wet and miserable Monday morning in Scotland, the country of our warrior’s birth, that the aftermath of his failure is so intense it almost requires a new sense to fully appreciate it.
I hope that in total blithe disregard of his profession as an athlete that last night he went out and got blind stinking drunk, became abusive toward some poor random Swiss citizen who happened to be passing, and was dragged away by his friends, still mouthing obscenities and threats to sleep it all off. I hope that today his head is so thick with sickness and fog that it blocks out the other, national, feeling of gloom.
Then I hope someone has the wit and compassion to play him, “High Hopes” by Frank Sinatra, bring him a huge fried breakfast and then take him out to get drunk all over again. Repeated courses of this treatment will – in my experience – promote the growth of a skin not only thicker, but also resistant to national expectations and other psychic burdens. In this way, come next June, he can try once again.