Sunday, January 28, 2007


That’s the banner headline which blasted tennis player Andy Murray into the sports spotlight at Wimbledon in 2005.
As the decline of Britain’s last great Grand Slam hope, Tim Henman, continued relentlessly and he seemed to be heading for ever deepening obscurity, the media was desperate to find a new rising star. And the boy emerging from the mists of Dunblane seemed to satisfy the need for fresh hope.
Eighteen months later Murray’s performance has yet to match the hype and fulfil that hope. Unlike Henman, who regularly made it to Grand Slam quarter and semi-finals, Murray has still to get beyond the third or fourth round. In fact, he’s doing well if he gets that far.
The best that can be said about this young Scot, whose frequently snarling personality on court is far from attractive, is that his performance to date has been erratic. One day he can beat the Grand Slam master, Roger Federer, the next barely lift a racket.
Predictably, last week he was beaten in the fourth round of the Australian Open by Rafael Nadal. But for the first time Murray looked as if he might one day make good the hype when he put up a fight which left the world Number 2 so exhausted it may have contributed to his losing his quarter final match two days later.
The trouble with hype is that it so often exceeds what it promises or can be fulfilled. When it fails to deliver most people shrug it off with an air of what would you expect. But hype can be dangerous to the hyped man or woman. It can lead them to believe their own publicity and hamper their development.
In Murray’s case I am sure that as he has struggled to overcome the problem he is not a natural athlete and get a grip of his surly temperament, it has added to the pressure on him and contributed to his delusion that he is one of the tennis elite – a player in the game’s premier league when he’s still really only an aspiring member in the first division.
I believe the lad has the potential to equal Henman, but to stand a chance of doing any better he needs forget the hype and concentrate on developing his game.
Politicians like Gordon Brown and David Cameron are having a field day banging on about the importance of Britishness and ‘British values.’
Perhaps that is why more and more people are starting to think of themselves as English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish.
Copyright © Rebecca Hamilton 2007. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 21, 2007


While politicians and the race relations industry jumped on the publicity bandwagon, racism had nothing to do with what happened on Channel 4’s Celebrity Big Brother.
The most telling aspect of the clash between the beautiful, dignified Indian actress Shilpa Shetty and the ignorant, repugnant Jade Goody was its reflection of how far standards of behaviour in Britain have fallen.
Britain once brimmed with young women as dignified as Shilpa, women who knew how to behave and never used four letter words or discussed their love lives in public. They respected people and were respected and valued themselves.
Today they are an endangered species, their place usurped by an uncouth, loud-mouthed, binge-drinking generation of ASBO bullies who can barely speak English properly or utter a sentence without using four letter words.
Jade is a Blair street babe and cheer leader of this hooligan mob who have no respect for anyone and count an ASBO as a badge of honour - a high profile product of the yob culture which despises decency and has been fostered in the amoral, sleazy political climate promoted by outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair.
She was the star of the show when she first appeared in a non-celebrity version of Big Brother and has built a media and business career on the instant fame it gave her.
But from the moment she saw the stunning Shilpa, she felt threatened. As the haunting insecurities which drive her soared to the front of her mind, she needed a girl gang to bully and humiliate this rival – and got one fast.
Only Z-list celebrities desperate to relaunch their waning careers volunteer to go into the Big Brother house. I suspect that the clever, ambitious Shilpa may have tried several times to find a way reach beyond Bollywood to an audience in the West and Celebrity Big Brother was the best offer she got.
It’s certainly working for her. She is now the star of the show and will probably win as the remnants of the Goody gang and the other assorted nonentities are no match for her. A glittering global career with the celebrity magazines queuing up with their cheque books to feature her on their pages and film, TV, book and other media opportunities lie ahead.
Jade is getting the come uppance she deserves for being a bully.
Her perfume is already off the shelves in big stores and even her former supporters in Essex, where she lives and has a hair salon, are disowning her.
Like her stage-managed hug-and-make-up scene with Shilpa before she was ejected from the Big Brother house, her tearful repetition to a tabloid of how sorry she is for what she said is a desperate attempt to save her career. But her time in the spotlight and fling with fame is over. No one will want her face on the front cover any more.

It would take a multi-million pound PR and marketing campaign to sell even a reformed Jade now.
Hopefully, Tony Blair will be gone from 10 Downing Street sooner rather than later and take the hooligan culture he has promoted with him.
The Jade Goody big bully scenario is as much part of his legacy as his sins in Iraq and the peerages for cash scandal in which he is now embroiled.
Copyright © Rebecca Hamilton 2007. All Rights Reserved