Everyone's a Winner-Or a Cheat: Dr Reid Wants the Credit, Gordon Meets a Champion and Tony Learns a Valuable Lesson
Box, Red, New Statesman (1996)
Scene 1: The Cabinet Room. John Reid sits alone dictating his autobiography, Are You Looking At Me?, into a Dictaphone.
Reid: Chapter one. New paragraph. I have always been a great admirer of Genghis Khan and in times of crisis I often ask, "What would Genghis do?" Enter Tony.
Tony: Hi John. Reid drops the Dictaphone and leaps up.
Reid: What are you doing here?
Tony: Just checking up on things. How's Britain? Collapsing without me?
Reid: No, no, it's fine. Economy's booming. We've had the best exam results ever. And I've just exposed a major terror plot.
Tony: Good, good, I'm sure I can take the credit for most of that. Any sporting triumphs?
Reid: Well, Andy Murray beat Roger Federer.
Tony: Splendid. Well done. Er, is that darts?
Reid: Tennis. He's the British number one and he beat the world number one.
Reid: And he's a Scot.
Tony: Right. I see. No offence, John, but I think we'll play that one down. Anything else?
Reid: The cricket. But we're not quite sure how to handle it.
Tony: Well, it's easy. If they win, they come over for champagne and a photo call. If they lose, they piss off back to the nets.
Reid: Well, we beat them all right. 3-0.
Tony: Oh no. I'd better address the nation and apologise. Better still, let's just forfeit the series.
Reid: We can't. The umpires have already made Pakistan concede the final match. Their captain was caught cheating.
Tony: Caught, was he? Poor guy.
Reid: At the last minute, too.
Tony: Really? I may have some important lessons to learn from him. Let's get the whole team here for a party.
Scene 2: At No 11 Gordon is hosting a reception in honour of Andy Murray. The air is thick with Scottish accents. Gordon taps a spoon against his glass of Highland Spring Water.
Gordon: Friends, colleagues, Scotsmen. [Beat] Dr Reid. Oh, I forgot. His invitation got lost in the shredder. [Gales of laughter] We're here to celebrate the remarkable rise of one of our most brilliant countrymen. [Applause]
So, how best to sum up Andy's achievement? Two years ago he was ranked 250th in the world, and now he's close to the top 20. So he's leapt 4.6453 places for every set that he's won. Even more remarkably, this represents a rise of 0.2673 places for every day he's spent on court. Or, to put it in its most graphic terms, his net contributions to the Exchequer have risen faster over a 24-month period than those of any sportsman since David Beckham signed for United. …