Updated: May 12, 2020
Ten years ago, I was having a miserable birthday. I'd recently been through a difficult breakup and was feeling a bit sorry for myself. Wandering the streets of London alone at night with nothing but an old CD player and a recording and miniature score of The Enigma Variations in my bag, I was on the verge of sleeping rough for the first time in my life. Then I remembered that it would be the Wimbledon men's final the next day, and that the greatest male player of all time would be in it. So, instead of sleeping on the streets, I sat on a bench by St Paul's and read through the Elgar before having the idea of walking through the night, from central London down to Wimbledon. And how it was worth it. I was one of the first in the queue the following morning and eventually sat in a prime position on Henman Hill, ready to cheer Roger Federer on to win his fifth straight Wimbledon. Needless to say, the experience totally turned my day (possibly even my year) around.
It's not just the raw talent (and the excellent last two syllables of his surname) that draw me to the man; I've always admired the humility, grace, sportsmanship and values he epitomises. I wish I could have made it back to Wimbledon this year as it seems that Roger may never play at this level again - mind you, that's been said many times before - but instead, I've just finished a fun little set of 12-tone pieces to accompany some clips of Federer playing 12-shot rallies he wins with his typical brilliance, style and elegance. We'll not see his like again.