Monday, 8 July 2013

A good day at the office

It used to be that people who were honoured by the Queen had either gone above and beyond the call of duty, done things out of pure altruism, or dedicated a life to public service. But things are changing.

So when Prime Minister David Cameron declared that Andy Murray deserved a Knighthood after becoming the first Briton to win the Wimbledon men's singles since 1936 wasn’t he riding the anti-authoritarian bandwagon, just as Tony Blair did before him?

I watched Murray on Sunday and was as thrilled as everyone else that he won an extraordinary game of tennis. I’m not convinced, however, that it merits a Knighthood.

The next day when Murray appeared at 10 Downing Street, Cameron certainly maximised the opportunity to bask in another’s reflected glory and deliver his ill-thought popularist riposte to a nation still riding a tide of emotional delight.

"I can't think of anyone who deserves one more," said Mr Cameron, in prose that somehow seemed rather weak and bereft of occasion for the political leader of our country.

Murray responded later, saying: "It's a nice thing to have or be offered but I don't know if it merits that."

Our modern-day obsession with celebrity probably has something to do with it - but Cameron ought to know better than jockeying for cheap, short-term popularity with words that hardly sounded sincere.

Should we be rewarding our sporting heros for ‘just doing their job’? Well the precedents have already been set, so it may be hard to pull back.

Remember, for example, our yatching heroine Ellen MacArthur who was made a dame before she had even set foot back on dry land?

In a similar, distorted vein we’ve been ‘rewarding’ bankers and heads of giant corporations with mega bonus’s, even when they’ve been serving a string of corporate or fiancial faults.

So fast-forward to the summer of 2014 and let’s indulge in a little ‘what if’ speculation around an unlikely outcome of the World Cup in Brazil.

Suspend reality for a moment and imagine that our lads in the England team finally get it together and play for the mother-land like never before, emulating Murray and winning the elusive soccer trophy for the first time since 1966.

A big ask I grant you - but while we are at it let’s take this topsy turvy idea a giant leap further and imagine that Wayne Rooney is the superstar hero of the tournament, scoring a series of stunning goals and rounding it all off with a hat-trick in the final.

Yes Siree - you’ve got it! Arise Sir Wayne!