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Columnists

My country 'tisn't of thee

Jude Simpson

Jude SimpsonWhat is wrong with us Brits that we can't stomach each other's achievements? What is this sociopathic compulsion to lay into our most successful compatriots, setting aside their enormous accomplishments to focus on details of their life which, we decide, cause us personal affront?

OK, so Lewis Hamilton is the youngest world champion in Formula One history. So what? We're not going to be too impressed, we decide, because a) he only just made it - overtaking at the last corner to win by a single point - and b) we still hate the fact that he moved to Switzerland, where he gets to pay less tax. Both these things are morally outrageous.

We once hated Tim Henman for being a nice man who didn't win anything (being one of the world's top ten tennis players ten years running doesn't count - any of us could do that). Now we hate Andrew Murray for winning stuff but having a slightly abrasive attitude (which is totally different from having an aggressive winner's mentality, and something we ourselves could never be accused of).

If you have to criticise, let me at least help you do it properly. Here's the Jude Simpson Guide To Criticising Lewis Hamilton:

1. See a £20 on the ground. Don't pick it up.
2. Next time there's a buy-one-get-one free offer, pay full price for both.
3. Decide not to top up your ISA - it's right that the tax on your interest goes towards our cherished Government.
4. Think of all the things you have achieved and berate yourself for not achieving them more convincingly. (Remember that A level you just scraped a C in? You are such an embarrassment.)
5. Become the best in the world at something.
6. Live in Stevenage for 16 years, and decide to stay because it's prettier than Switzerland.
7. Congratulations! You are now qualified to criticise Lewis Hamilton.

Don't get me wrong, I don't feel sorry for Lewis. I think he can probably survive whatever measly flak this glass-half-empty nation can throw his way. But he's not the one suffering from our begrudgingness. We are! Because here's the catch. Being happy for other people can make you happy!

Take a leaf out of the book of a Peterborough man, whose son raced go-karts against Hamilton, and who realised then that he had extraordinary talent. Did he criticise? Did he do everything possible to belittle Hamilton's victories? No! He went to Ladbrokes, placed a bet on Lewis one day becoming world champion, and in November claimed £125,000 in winnings.

Oh my country, my country, how I have longed to gather you up in my arms and make you all warm and happy together. But you were not willing! You prefer grouchiness! Look, your stars are deserting you, and will not return until you say, 'Actually I was wrong, he's not that bad.' n

Next month - Barack Obama - honestly, what's he ever done in life???