The Nadir Masters: Wimbledon For Tortured Souls

Wimbledon starts today, but a tennis tournament featuring only my nadirs would be full of blood, sweat, tears and sports cars. But who will win? Me at 22 or the 38-year-old I am now? And there is always 27 to consider...
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Wimbledon starts today, but a tennis tournament featuring only my nadirs would be full of blood, sweat, tears and sports cars. But who will win? Me at 22 or the 38-year-old I am now? And there is always 27 to consider...


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Dejected Andy? You ain't seen nothing until the Nadir Masters

If I held a masters tennis tournament involving just my nadirs, it’d be contested by 22, 27, 28, 30, 35 and 38. Six good looking guys, growing in confidence down the ages, and it would not be unfair to say, buffer, each enjoying periods with fine hairstyles, each experiencing job losses and each going up before disciplinary panels in their jobs. Except 35. 35 had a successful writing career but his private life was one big motorway pile up.

There would be 2 round robin group stages, with each age seeded. 27 and 35 are the favourites, but 38′s the dark horse. 38 carries the scars of those that came before him and his participation in this inaugrual tournament was only secured after the removal of 19, whose only basis for inclusion was 1) the sequence of debilitating and highly embarrassing stomach rumbles that rocked his English A Level Mock exam in the summer of ’91 and forced him to walk out of the exam, and 2) puking during his interview at Littlewoods Marble Arch just weeks later. These, the 38 successfully argued, were not traumas.

22 would, prior to the tournament’s start, give an interview predicting confidently that he would win. 22 was self-absorbed, introspective, unaware that his own trauma would in time be overshadowed by the dark events to come over the following 17 years. Of the six, 22 was the only one who under achieved with women. Painfully shy, he was yet to be afflicted with the body hair that emerged during the mid-twenties, and thus was able to wear shorts in the summer.

Who are you at 22 though, the 38 said mockingly during the pre-tournament press conference. Old enough officially to be regarded as an adult but still young enough to get away with doing stupid things, that’s all you are. There was no love lost between these two, and the best of the round robin matches would see the broken 38 take on 22. The young man who was convinced he was once part of Tears For Fears, would be completely taken apart by 38, and from the start, it would be apparent there was no love lost between the two.

38 would mock 22′s wispy goatee whilst 22 would look at 38′s disappointing stubble and say “16 years on and that’s all you got?”

38 would shout back, “You young fool; you didn’t have to be me. You could’ve come through your disappointment. “

27 meanwhile would ease through its group and enter the semi-finals as the hot favourite. But one of the more eloquent Paddy Barclay-like correspondents covering the Nadir Masters would point out 27′s was just one trauma, albeit the biggest. 27 was shaped by finding his mum slumped on a sofa. But that’s it. One incident. One life changing moment. He didn’t have the darkness carried by 35 and 38, one of whom, he predicted, would lift this title.

30 was a player, flying high on a cocktail of anti-depressants, women and P45’s. 30 left his dad’s funeral in the backseat of an inappropriate for the occasion sports car

30 meanwhile didn’t even hang around to watch the rest of the tournament after being knocked out in the round robin. 30 was the ladies man whose reflection on his dad’s death was tied in with how he spectacularly broke into his dad’s flat to look for him. He couldn’t separate the two. He regretted that more people didn’t witness his breaking in through his dad’s bedroom window. Every time 30 recounts that story, it’s not gone unnoticed that the window he claims to have claimed through gets bumped up a floor. 30 was a player, flying high on a cocktail of anti-depressants, women and P45’s. 30 left his dad’s funeral in the backseat of an inappropriate for the occasion sports car. 30 held a party at his aunt’s house when his aunt and uncle were on holiday and the place got trashed. 30 doesn’t even remember two girls telling him that they loved him. The bereavements that rocked him eventually opened him up to a new world of travelling and football journalism, but he was held in low regard by the other competitors who felt he wasted the opportunities that came his way.

In the semis, a magnificent battle between 38 and 35 takes place. In the run up to the match, the 38 gives a moving interview on how he’s finally accepted his past and moved on, but how his epiphany came too late for him to hang onto his woman. His preparation in the run up to the semi has, he says, been interrupted by the failure of a new pair of shoes ordered from Next online, failing to turn up 2 weeks after ordering them.

Tale of the tape:

38
Has just lost Latin America, the love of his life
Spent 150 days in a hotel
Occupation: Comedian & Temporary worker

Creator of Please Don’t Hug Me podcast
iTunes: http://goo.gl/JGRjB Jellycast:http://goo.gl/Colnd MixCloud:http://goo.gl/zaWIe

Hair out of 10: 8
Goatee ambition: 6

35
Exposed womaniser

Close friend dying. Also suffered 3 other bereavements
Channel 4 Show is cancelled
8 flats in 12 months
Hair out of 10: 9
Goatee ambition: 8
2 court cases lost, intermittent internet connection with Pipex.
Putney flat had a balcony and dishwasher, both of which he never used.

It’s not hostile out there. It’s a sad battle, one neither man wanted. The two respect what each other’s gone through. What they both lost. Between them, they’ve slept on at least 20 different pull out beds. This is two battered men on the cusp of middle age, slugging it out.

38 edges the match, just, and the two ages embrace at the end. A moving end to perhaps the match of the tournament.

In the other semi, 27 destroys 22. 22′s trauma informed the other ages that came through. With the exception of 27,every other age and their traumas can be traced to 22. But 22 didn’t have to lead to all this and every opponent has raised their game when confronted by the young navel gazer with the now widely-derided curtains hairstyle.

27 and 38 come out for the final. There’s no love lost between these two either. 27, driven on by the memory of Friday 18th February 2000 opens majestically, threatening to play the man 11 years his senior, off the park.

38 is weeping, mumbling incoherently, like Sampras against Courier when his coach was dying. 38 knows he’s in trouble, on and off the court. His trauma is now.

27 slaps his less hirsute chest, smiling at 38. 38 reminds 27 that at least he was able to get it up. 27 counters that was the depression. It’s getting nasty out there.

27′s wearing his trauma like a badge. 38 hates him. Hates that 27 started all this. 38 fights back from two sets down, noting as 27 changes his shirt during an interval, that 27 has less body hair.

He remembers his aunt waxing him at 27 and how the screams from the bathroom alerted his uncle who thought they were arguing. 27 recalls how awkward it was when they couldn’t remove the wax from the bath enamel. But 27 could still go to the beach. The beach isn’t an option for 38.

27 slaps his less hirsute chest, smiling at 38. 38 reminds 27 that at least he was able to get it up. 27 counters that was the depression. It’s getting nasty out there.

38 reminds 27 about the inappropriate overly sculpted goatee he sported at their mum’s funeral.

“And look what you became,” says 27 going for the jugular. “Everything she did for you and look what you did with your life.”

The TV paymasters are loving this Nadir Masters. The tension, the animosity, it’s gripping stuff.

Watching in the stands is the ghost of a small frail woman, who always looked older than her years. She’s puffy faced, wears thick rimmed rose coloured glasses. She looks ill, her skin pale and drawn, her hair badly dyed, Ted Rogers-like. How did no one know she was dying?

27 notes her presence and is unsettled by her. He wonders too whether she heard the disparaging comment about the decline in his bedroom performances.

27 recalls how she visited him in a dream just a few days after he found her. She walked past him as the 4-year old boy in his Twitter pic to collect her own body from the mortuary. She didn’t want to bother anyone, and carried her corpse over her shoulder. She was small. But she was strong.

Noting 27 was sobbing, she stopped to ask him why he was crying and told him there was nothing he could’ve done. 27 never forgot that. That was the last time he spoke to the greatest person he ever knew.

By the time he finishes recalling that dream, 27’s whole game has collapsed. 38 has edged past him and is serving for the match.

38 can’t lose. Not again. Not now. Not when 38′s carrying all the mistakes and pain of the other competitors with him. As 38 clinches victory, he steps off the court, not waiting for the presentation – this was never about trophies - and gives the waiting Sue Barker and the cheesy post-match interview the swerve.

In the dressing room, slumped, towel wrapped around his head, pondering his next move, 38 sees 22 checking his latest goatee in the mirror. 22 steps back 8 meters or so and beams proudly as he can just about see his goatee from that distance now.

“Gotta be visible from at least 10 metres now,” says 22 all pleased. 38 notes the odd Americanism had crept into their everyday speak from an early age

All 6 competing ages leave without showering. The communal shower was never for them.

You can  listen to Daniel's Please Don't Hug Me podcast on iTunes, Jellycast and MixCloud

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