Like so many others, I spent my Sunday afternoon trying to watch the Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon finals at the same time. I tried channel-hopping. I tried double-screening, switching gaze between television and iPad, but couldn’t focus on either game. I ended up just watching the tennis, and it broke my heart.
I’ve long supported Roger Federer in an obsessive and somewhat pretentious way. For me, he represents the triumph of talent over force, fragile beauty over grit. Rafael Nadal is AC/DC, I sometimes say; Federer is Mozart.
I have now watched Federer win so many majors, and said to myself: enough, he is the greatest, now let it go. Then his genius propels him towards another amazing feat and I’m sucked back into the mad worship. He can’t do it again, can he? He must. He is the greatest.
I didn’t think Federer could beat Novak Djokovic on Sunday. When he lost the first set, I felt resigned. But then he picked up his game and the contest turned into one of the best Wimbledon finals. My excitement grew.
We had to go to Mass at 4 pm. I should confess to feeling a pang of resentment at the obligation. Sinfully, I checked the score on my phone once or twice.
We got back in front of the television in time for the fifth and final set. The children started giving me worried looks as I shouted at the screen. Federer had two championship points, but fell short. I wanted to cry. I admire Djokovic, an Orthodox Christian and in many ways as big a talent as Roger the Great. But he isn’t Federer.
I then tuned back into the cricket to watch England win the World Cup in what many are calling the most thrilling match of all time. Nothing could lift my spirits, however, and I woke up on Monday still feeling down.
Sport doesn’t matter, I know. If anything, it is probably good for the soul to watch one’s heroes fail – a reminder that we’re all frail mortals. It hurts like hell, though.
Speaking of pain, I am temporarily crippled, having totally ruptured my Achilles tendon. Total rupture is the proper medical term, I’m pleased to relate. I want to tell people I injured the leg rock climbing or cage fighting. The embarrassing truth is I did it dancing – getting carried away at a friend’s 40th birthday party. I was having a jolly time, then something went ping in my leg and I couldn’t walk. The next day, at an NHS “minor injuries” unit, a male nurse looked me over for a few seconds, gave me a pair of crutches, and told me to take paracetamol. My loving wife then started telling everyone I had merely sprained my ankle, which made me look a frightful drama queen as I hobbled about gasping.
I was delighted, therefore, when the specialist told me I would need an operation and three months on crutches. “If you were a footballer, you would be out for nine months,” he added, and I pumped my fist as if I had just scored a goal.
The injury is not quite as gratifying now, on day five of having my leg in plaster; although I have the perfect excuse to watch a lot of sport on television. I am tempted to write a furious email to that minor injuries unit, informing them of their dangerous misdiagnosis, which could have left me limping forever. Surely that isn’t a Christian impulse.
Will this year’s Pride Month ever end? It’s the third week of July, and most public buildings remain festooned with rainbow flags and messages of support for the LGBT community. I thought Pride was meant to end in June. Maybe because it is the 50th anniversary of the famous Stonewall protests the celebrations are taking longer. Increasingly, though, these parties for homosexual equality seem to take over the whole summer.
In my inbox, I just opened an email that promised LIMITLESS PRIDE. It’s an advertisement for a photography book “celebrating the 50th anniversary of New York Pride”.
Bring on shame, I say. I can see that 50 years is a landmark, but the whole Pride jamboree is so materialistic, vulgar and vain these days. Never mind for a moment the rights and wrongs of human sexuality: pride is a sin.
The favourite to be Britain’s next prime minister, Boris Johnson, is, like almost all politicians today, a vocal gay rights supporter. So is Donald Trump. Neither man concerns himself too much with traditional ideas of morality or the family. They are liberals in their hearts, even libertines. Nevertheless, their critics have decided that they must be homophobic because, well, politics. Sadiq Khan used the occasion of this year’s Pride to attack Boris Johnson for once having written the word “bumboys” as a journalist. The rule is: if you are a conservative, leave identity politics well alone. You can’t win.
Freddy Gray is deputy editor of the Spectator
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