NOT THAT I KNEW HIM, OF COURSE.
BUT THE FACT THAT HE WAS A ‘DOUR SCOT’, ANTI-ENGLISH, GUARDED, SULKY: IT WAS EVIDENCE ENOUGH TO CONVINCE THE KANGAROO COURT IN MY HEAD THAT HE WAS GUILTY OF… WELL, OF NOT BEING LIKEABLE, I SUPPOSE. I WONDER HOW MANY OTHERS I HAVE SIMILARLY TRIED AND SENTENCED.
It was only when I watched the BBC documentary this week,Andy Murray: The Man Behind the Racquet, following his great Wimbledon victory, that I realised his infamous ‘anti-English’ quote had been made in response to Tim Henman’s friendly goading in front of journalists, a joke shared which was misquoted and for which he received hate mail. It was only when he cried in defeat last year that I realised he had a heart, and mine began to soften. And it was only when Boris Becker commented, after Sunday’s victory, that Hollywood couldn’t have made up the story of where Andy came from, and where he’d ended up, that I remembered Dunblane.
Of course: he was there. And during Sue Barker’s delicate interview with him for this week’s documentary, he curled into the foetal position at the mention of that dreadful day in 1996 when 16 children and a teacher were murdered by Thomas Hamilton. The eight-year-old future Wimbledon champion had sheltered under a desk. Tears formed in his eyes as he spoke, hugging his dog for comfort, and explaining how he hoped his success might help the town.
Yes, it was only after all this that I resolved to ask two questions, when next I catch myself judging someone, anyone: first, what can I learn about myself from my reaction? And second, what can I learn about, or from, them?
In Andy Murray’s case, I have learned about myself that no amount of collected Christian wisdom or insight can substitute for practising my faith. ‘Judge not, lest you be judged,’ said Jesus. Embarrassingly simple, yet incredibly hard.
Second, I can learn from Andy himself that the human spirit is both immensely resilient and beautifully fragile; that the good will out; that grace emerges even from the darkest situation; that repeated failure is okay; that sometimes, if you commit yourself fully, you really can succeed; and that you don’t need to defend yourself always, if you let your life do the talking. A victory, we might say, to love.
Written by Brian Draper for The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.