James Corrigan: Tiger lost in natural habitat where Super Mac rules

View From The Sofa: Wimbledon, BBC

Expectation and Tim Henman never were ideal doubles partners so perhaps it was no surprise to discover that he who was once Tiger Tim had failed to do the research expected of a man receiving thousands of licence-fee payers' pounds. I don't care who you are, or which noble beast has the honour of prefixing your Christian name, you don't turn up to add your voice to the unfolding story without knowing the story.

Hammerhead Henman – as he might very well have become known if the headline writer had enjoyed a particularly big night on the grog – had not read the morning's papers, seen the morning telly, listened to the morning radio, or been within 100 feet of the morning's worldwide web, so could not pass comment on the "war of words" between Andy Murray (Anteater Andy as they will doubtless soon christen him) and Ernests Gulbis (old Earwig himself). But he could sit there and just be Tim Henman. Which is what it's all been about these last few years.

It's not been: "Oh look, there's Tim Henman, I wonder what fascinating insight he can give me into the pressures that poor dolt Murray is operating under." It's been: "Oh look, there's Tim Henman. Blimey, it's Tim Henman. At Wimbledon. How poignant." And now those shivers down our nostalgic spines have worn off, with what are we left? "Oh look, it's Tim Henman. At Wimbledon. Hmmmmm."

Still there is John McEnroe. Thank all that is holy for Super Mac. It really doesn't need yet another Sport on TV column to point out that this chap is rather adept with a microphone wedged under his snout; or, indeed, that in the land of fine sporting punditry he is not only without equal, but without company. But he isn't and I will. It's my right.

What defines McEnroe from the rest is neatly summed up in the aptly named L.O.V.E acronym – Learned, Observational, Valid, Entertaining. Of course, the third of these is the most important, as any Tom, Dick or Buster could make people laugh, while making them think and understand. But only John McEnroe can be John McEnroe. Because of who he is the antennae twitch that bit more frenetically and the words are taken in with almost fanatical fervour. McEnroe the intellectual affords the sport its substance, while McEnroe the punk rocker somehow manages also to give it some edge.

The old boy – 50 now – is at his best on radio. Any broadcaster who can make a phone-in bearable, never mind listenable, must be some sort of genius. It may seem odd, weird even, but I like to tune in to "6-Love-6" on the net and watch McEnroe on the webcam. It just wouldn't be the same without his continual fidgeting and repeated scratching of the nose as the responses brew for the dullards on the line. If you didn't hear his comparison of Murray and Henman last year – one orchestrating the crowd like a master conductor, the other barely able to pick up that wand – it is, blessedly, on YouTube.

As, of course, by now will be Saturday's unfortunate piece of commentary when Andrew Castle said just the wrong thing as a young lady's bosom came into focus. McEnroe keeping it together at that moment was deserving of an award in itself. But hey, when all said and done this is still tennis and this is still Wimbledon. You cannot be delirious.

The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?