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Sunday, 14 July 2013


Last Sunday, after a long wait of 77 years, history was made in Wimbledon when Scotsman Andy Murray won the grand slam against Serbian Novak Djokovic at the All England Tennis Club. He was the first male Briton to have won the tournament since Fred Perry in 1936, when he defeated German Gottfried von Cramm, whom he also won against on the previous year in the Wimbledon men's single finals, after defeating Australian Jack Crawford at the same venue in 1934. So although Murray brought the long wait for a British finalist to win to an end, he still have to win two more tournaments at Wimbledon to equal Fred Perry.

But unlike Perry, who was generally disliked by the club officials for having come from a working class background, Murray was greeted by the besotted Etonian Prime Minister David Cameron, along with Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and opposition leader of the Labour Party Ed Milliband. Cameron even suggested a Knighthood for Murray, who in turn had far better sense to withdraw from such a proposition, with the greater percentage of the public agreeing.

Murray with the Wimbledon 2013 trophy

Along with his trophy, Murray also received a pay cheque of £1,600,000 as well as admiration from the nation - as a Briton, not an Englishman, as he was born in Dunblane, up north in Scotland and grew up there. Therefore I could not help but feel a notable lack of local public celebration for someone who had put Britain on the winning map after such a long wait. Now, had the winning finalist been his predecessor Tim Henman, a true blue Englishman and a Tory to wit, the whole nation would have had a forest of St George flags flying from just about every house and car aerial along with street bunting. Instead, life carried on, the world continues as it always does - no street parties, no bunting, just a day of front page newspaper coverage and a series of Facebook postings from a fan or two.

Murray was one of the fortunate ones. He happened to excel in a particular sport and now having received worldwide fame. A celebrity, even the chief Government minister fawned over enough to make a hasty decision to have him awarded a Knighthood. This takes me back to 1969 when three American astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, travelled 250,000 miles to the moon on the Apollo 11 and two of the three setting foot on the surface of the moon on July 20th for the very first time in human history. Instantly, all three became worldwide celebrities.

I recall the tremendous public applause as we watched the whole episode on monochrome television. I was sixteen at the time and it was more than a year after leaving school. As the three faced the TV cameras shortly after splashdown, I felt a wave of envy take hold of me. At my job, all I was doing was dogsbody work at a family-owned furniture-making factory under a war-veteran supervisor who had a hangup about not making any impact or a name for himself in the world. Fame and public recognition had totally eluded him. He hated his position of being "of the masses" or simply "rank and file" - both terms depicting ordinary unimportant people. He made sure that I fully understood that I was in no better position than he was. When I suggested that I was special, he rebuked me, followed by a stream of constant teasing. Unfortunately for him, he died around 1975 after being hit by a car, and took his grudge with him to the grave.

But his power over me not only stuck, but in the years to come I was able to see that the inward desire for fame and recognition is universal. Who would not want to appear on television, or better still, on the big screen or at a theatre stage? Alternatively, one can become an author and write books, or to be a newspaper journalist or news reporter on TV. Although a few authors with little or no academic qualifications do get their work published first time, this is rare. Rather, it is fiendishly difficult to get an edge in anywhere, and I read on a reliable source that the vast majority of novice writers see their efforts winging their way back home from the publishers accompanied by a reject note. Or ending up shedding tears in front of the TV camera. Such was the case of the audition of the Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat West End theatrical production as chief actor/singer, a few years ago. When one candidate's song failed the first round of the audition, he fell into the arms of presenter Graham Norton and cried like a baby while still live on air. Not the sort of emotion shown if failed for a post as a plumber. The role as Joseph was eventually won by a professional singer.

Even here on this website, it has been suggested that I write of my travel experiences and submit for publication. This sounds fine, if I knew that I stood a high chance of acceptance. Who would not want to see their own works on display for sale at Waterstones? Then again, it's my opinion that backpacking travel is not specifically unique, although this might have been the case half a century earlier. Nowadays there are a large number of undergrads who travel abroad on their gap-year and come back with tales of extraordinary adventures.

And here's the hunch. Such professions mentioned above all require degrees. It does look to me that gaining a university degree is a good alternative to local, national or worldwide recognition, and as in the case of journalism, a necessary stepping stone. As these careers are fiercely competitive, with thousands applying for so few posts, maybe physical excellence is possible with out and out determination, training and a huge dollop of pure luck.

So failing at school, being lucky enough to find and hold down a humble manual job, feeling one in a faceless crowd, of the masses, an also ran in sports, not recognised - let alone famous - little wonder that to my experience, being a nobody has the capability to lead to self-pity, depression, a life of hopelessness, failure, worthlessness, class envy, even suicide. I'm sure that among sport celebrities like Andrew Murrey, David Beckham or Bobby Charlton, or presenters like Brian Cox, Simon Reece or David Attenborough, along with numerous actors, singers, news reporters and newspaper journalists, such occupations are linked to public recognition and fame. It was interesting to note that just before writing this, a filler appeared on Amanda Platell's page of the Daily Mail. In it I read that since the Goring Hotel in London was the venue of Kate and the Middleton family just prior to her Royal Wedding to Prince William, its fortunes have soared with bookings stretching over months.

International footballer David Beckham

When I feel so small and insignificant, unimportant and worthless in a world of celebrities, one of the most liberating forces at work is the truth of the Gospel. I have found the value of celebrity losing its power when I learned the truth of the Gospel. In it is the knowledge that God loves you personally. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, he died with my name and your name on the cross. When I first believed, God the Judge granted judicial acquittal, or justification. The very fact that every believer has his name written in the Lamb's Book of Life shows that God Almighty knows each one of us as individuals. And furthermore, the relationship is eternal.

What a wonderful truth - to be known and loved individually by the Almighty God!

And that's why I tend to pity, rather than show reverence to a celebrity. True enough, there are some, like singer Cliff Richard, who is world famous and a believer in Jesus. But most of the others do not, or had never known the Lord. Actress and singer Marilyn Monroe and ex Beatle John Lennon were such cases of great celebrities who lived and died without knowing Jesus Christ as Saviour, both stepping into lost eternities while still at the prime of their lives.

As for Andrew Murray, a friend I know personally, had given this tennis champion praise on Facebook for elevating patriotic and national pride and glory. Underneath, in one of the comment boxes, I wrote; 
What Andy needs now is Jesus Christ as Saviour.
My friend actually clicked "Like" on my comment, implicating full agreement.

Although Andy Murrey had done a great service to Great Britain, his glory is self-ward. I actually mourn for him rather than show reverence. In fact, I find it very difficult to show reverence to any celebrity who is still in his sins. Instead, I long for such a person to have faith in Jesus. This applies to everyone alive - to know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Like this, an eternal crown awaits him in Heaven.


  1. Hey Frank, enjoyed this post but you need to correct the second sentence - women can be Britons too!

    Angela Mortimer in '61, Anna Haydon-Jones in '69 and Virginia Wade in '77!

  2. Not only does God love each of His children infinitely, but He designed each of uniquely to fulfill His specific purpose, No one else was designed to encounter the unique sphere of influence each of us has, nor equipped with exactly the right gifts, abilities, personalities and experiences to be able to proclaim God's glory to that unique sphere of influence. Sadly, we may wander from the center of God's perfect will for our lives and suffer loss of rewards, but His work goes on with or without us. May each of us be what He intends for us to be and play the part in His plan He has written for us.
    Great post! God bless,

  3. Hi Frank,
    I smiled when I read your sentence 'Who would not want to appear on television, or better still, on the big screen or at a theatre stage?' I thought 'Me'. I have never had any desire to be famous, I have always enjoyed being just 'me' as God made me, and being born again of the Holy Spirit is the best situation anyone could be in. How I feel could not be described better than what Philippians ch.4 vs. 12 and 13 says. ' I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.' God bless

  4. Isn't it sad that the world puts so much stress on such often meaningless accomplishments? I can't wait to see how much different God's rewards and trophies will be.

  5. Really good post Frank. I will say that both you and Brenda have had interesting lives going all over the place whereas I feel, although I have no desire to be famous in the least, I have missed out somewhat. I'm asking God into this.