First Person - with Phil Weir

Phil Weir
Phil Weir

Every great occasion needs a handbag...

It came just after Andy Murray won his match.

As he clinched victory, the TV cameras panned round and came to rest on Centre Court’s presidential box, and who, viewers, could not have been impressed by the site that greeted us there.

Who was that man stood behind David Cameron? What a noble face! The face of a senator! The face of a Caesar! The face of a born leader of men!

No. Not the guy with the moon face and the hint of a chin and the giant flag. The guy behind him. The elderly gentleman with the resolute, craggy features. Who the devil was he? I’d give him my vote! I’d give him my allegiance! I’d follow him into battle! But I suppose we’ll never know.

He was just another face in the crowd.

So, back to the man with a face as big as an entire section of the crowd.


And back to his Saltire-unfurling coup de foudre.

Hard on the heels of this nearly-spontaneous, almost-slightly-Braveheartish stunt – which in somebody’s book, but not mine, as a flag-displaying moment, no doubt matched the US Marines raising the Stars and Stripes atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima in 1945 and Soviet soldiers of the 150th Rifle ‘Idritskaya’ Division pinning the Red Flag atop the Reichstag in Berlin that same year – it was revealed that Alex The Salmond had smuggled the jumbo pennant into Wimbledon inside his wife Moira’s handbag.

This got me to thinking, which is always a dangerous thing – what else does First Minister’s Spouse carry around in her handbag in case her man requires something, anything to Scotify an occasion. Is her lady-accessory as compendious and as versatile with its array of equipment as, say, Batman’s utility belt?

If so, Moira’s sleek-but-Tardis-like petite valise de femme no doubt contains some basics that an SNP leader on the hoof and the make cannot, sensibly, be caught without – a tin of shortbread with a technicolor painting of Loch Lomond on the lid; a pair of tartan trews (waist 46); a Corries shirt with more lacing than can be mustered by a dozen pairs of 28-hole Doc Martens put together; a six-pack of Irn Bru; a bottle of 25-year-old whisky; a bottle of 25-day-old Buckie; a set of bagpipes; two haggi (one normal, one veggie); a set of golf clubs; a curling stone and brush; a tartan bonnet with attached fake ginger hair; a dozen Proclaimers CDs; a microwaevable fish supper; the complete works of Rabbie Burns and Ian Rankin; 20 Trainspotting DVDs; and a set of stag antlers and/or a set of highland cow horns.

Optional extras could include a phial containing earth from Bannockburn or Culloden or both; a phial containing red paint flakes from the Forth Rail Bridge; and a thick pad of ripe-for-giveaway post-its pre-signed with the scrawl ‘Best Wishes, Sir Sean Connery’.

Yes, behind ever great man there is a great handbag, and Moira, or Caddy, as I now call her, can only be commended for her commitment to the cause and her endurance in carrying that damn thing around. And I don’t mean her handbag.

And while on the subject of Wimbledon, it struck me how some players seem doomed from the start, with the draw doing them no favours at all. For instance, No 1 Name Seed Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, was drawn against China’s Li Na, whose mini-moniker has her ranked at 942nd in the world. The writing was on the board early on in this straight sets victory for Radwanska, who, with way more vowel, consonant and syllable firepower available, easily got the better of Li. Apparently the Chinese player is to re-think things for next year and is planning to lengthen her name by deed poll in the near future.

So come next Wimbledon, look out for Li Na Martell, which is at least a step in the right direction. And it’s a name change which may even get a confused Alex Salmond flapping a Saltire in her direction.