Minor British Institutions: Losers

Some talk of Andy Murray and some of Brown, G; of Scott and Boadicea, and such great names as these. For of all the world's great losers, there's none that can compare with the British, is there?

Well, yes, of course there is; but this is the British, as usual, boasting about being best, even at losing. It's so much more mythic, too, losing gallantly, as Harold, Harry Hotspur and Cliff Richard (second, Eurovision, "Congratulations", 1968) show.

Nelson, who was a natural, even snatched it from victory by losing successive body parts and then dying. Uselessness has often been an advantage: Alfred is better remembered as a failed cook than a great king; see also Ethelred, the Light Brigade, and Eddie the Eagle.

Murray, sadly, doesn't play the losing game as well as his predecessor, Tim Henman, a nonpareil with a name to fail for, close both to timid and a female chicken. Let's not forget, either, that British Grenadiers were evacuated from Dunkirk.