AS a woman of a certain age and disposition, I have never been struck with the desire to storm a press conference stage and give the person at the microphone a great big hug. A cuff on the ear, occasionally, but not an embrace. Yet in common with many others in Scotland and around the world, that is exactly what I felt like doing on watching Andy Murray in Melbourne yesterday.

Speaking before his appearance in the Australian Open next week, the double Wimbledon and Olympic champion tried hard but failed to hold back the tears as he described life before and since hip surgery in January last year.

"I've been in a lot of pain for about 20 months now. I've pretty much done everything I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn't helped loads … I'm not sure I'm able to play through the pain for another four or five months. I want to get to Wimbledon and stop but I'm not certain I can do that."

Although more surgery is an option, he knows he can never return to the circuit as a top tier singles player. This is it. Retirement. At just 31.

Sure, Murray is not facing a future of signing on for benefits. He does know where his next million, never mind his next penny,  is coming from. The Scot has been canny enough to invest in ventures that will give him more than enough to live on for decades to come. 

Besides this, he will be much in demand as a pundit. He can travel the world, should he desire. As John McEnroe and Tim Henman have shown, there is a nice life to be had after tennis.

For all that, there is something particularly cruel about an athlete, a sportsperson in the prime of his life, being forced to stop playing the game he loves at the level he did. Tennis is as much a part of Murray as the right hand with which he leads. What do you do when the future you thought lay ahead of you is suddenly turned on its head?

It happens to so many, careers and lives cut short abruptly. “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” John Lennon wrote many fine lyrics, but few were more on the money than that line from Beautiful Boy, his hymn to son Sean. We are so wrapped up in getting through the days, and planning for the future, we do not stop to enjoy the here and now. Great. Now I’m sounding like a Californian greetings card. See what your tears have done, Andy?

For younger generations, it will be even more important to be increasingly flexible about the future. Long gone are jobs for life (although some politicians seem to still manage such a thing), and the certainty you will be able to buy a home. Confidence in the future will be a luxury only the rich can afford.

While there may be lots of possibilities in such a flexible, ever-changing life, it is pretty unnerving. It is exhausting just thinking about it. Perhaps that is why teenagers would sleep around the clock if they could: nature is preparing them for the slog ahead, allowing them to store up energy like so many nuts for winter. Either that or they are just lazy devils.

If he does make it to Wimbledon – everything crossed – what a send off he can expect. Of all the praise and best wishes that poured forth for Murray yesterday, Billie Jean King’s stood out. A champion herself, she knows of what she speaks. To Murray she tweeted: “You are a champion on and off the court. So sorry you cannot retire on your own terms, but remember to look to the future. Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come. Your voice for equality will inspire future generations.”

It is true. Murray has become more than a tennis player. For his country, he is as fine an ambassador as could be hoped for. Hardworking, passionate, committed, husband and father of two daughters, he is an avowed feminist. And as many of the personal messages and recollections of his kindness showed, he is a decent human being most of all. Not bad for 31 years. Here's to the next 31and more.

GWYNETH Paltrow is a success at many things, but being the source of much puzzlement to us mere mortals has to be in her top three achievements.

Not content with recasting separation and divorce as “conscious uncoupling”, the Shakespeare in Love star has taken her ex husband on honeymoon with her and her new husband, Brad Falchuk.

She told Disney ABC show Live with Kelly and Ryan: “We had a big, family honeymoon over Christmas. My new husband and his children, my children, my ex-husband, our best family friends. A very modern honeymoon.”

It is important for children, and it lessens any pain they might be experiencing over the split, to see parents old and new getting on around the same table, explained Ms Paltrow.

How very grown up and admirable, although one suspects it probably helped that all concerned were living it up in luxury in the Maldives. Money may not be able to buy love, but it sure makes being civilised with each other easier.

FORGET the lady in red. The new heroine of the hour is the woman in the yellow jacket who, like Fiona Bruce, made her Question Time debut on Thursday, almost stealing the show from the new host. 

In the grand tradition of exasperation exhibited by Brenda from Bristol, whose cry of “You’re joking, not ANOTHER one!” summed up attitudes to the 2017 General Election, the woman in yellow could take no more of people sympathising with Theresa May over the Brexit pickle she is in. 

"Could we get over feeling sorry for Theresa May,” said the WIY.  “I don't feel sorry for her. She's the woman who for many, many years has led the hostile environment for migrants in this country resulting in the Windrush generation. It's a disgrace. She's the person who created her very specific red lines on immigration which created the negotiation mess we are in. She triggered Article 50 when she had no plan.” On she went, the audience applauding like mad. 

As yet, no name has emerged for this Cinderella of politics, who swept out the door 15 minutes before midnight. When they find her, producers could do worse than sign her up as Fifi’s understudy. 

MENTION of Fiona Bruce brings to mind one of her other part-time jobs: presenter of the Antiques Roadshow (it’s awfy hard to get by on a reported £500k a year, don’t you know).

In the course of a clear out, I came across an old Christmas present from years ago: a box of beautiful notecards and envelopes from the Mrs John L Strong Co. I pictured myself on an Antiques Roadshow of the future, banging on to an amazed crowd how we used to write each other notes and letters in the days before email and texts. The punters would ooh and ah until the point where the so-called expert would offer a cruelly derisory valuation, then the mob would commence the sniggering that so often lets this fine programme down.

Reverie over, I found to my dismay that I had not used any of the contents. The seals were unbroken. This, then, is going to be my one and only pledge for this year: to use these cards for fitting occasions, such as thank you notes, or memorable missives. And there won’t be an emoji in sight.