New balls please
If further proof were needed that my life is slipping away from me, Wimbledon has started again. It seems like only two minutes ago whoever won it last year was holding the trophy aloft and grinning like a Cheshire cat.
The return of the tennis championships Wimbledon is an exciting time for London. Or so I'm told. I take less notice of it now I live here than I did before I made the move. I once spent an entire summer as a student lying on my stomach smoking cigarettes, eating strawberries and watching the tournament on a temperamental black and white portable. Perhaps this was a vain attempt to soak up the glamour attached to the event; more likely it was a summer job avoidance technique. If I was to attempt to lie on my stomach on the floor these days, I'd probably never get up again. Wimbledon's influence, despite it being a usually predictable two week affair, throws up certain truths and I've decided to list them for you.
As sure as night follows day, piles of coverage in all kinds of media will be given to whatever Tim Henman (laughingly labelled 'British No. 1' as if it means anything at all) is up to, usually before he even picks up a racquet. Pictures abound of flag-waving Henmaniacs on 'Henman Hill', all cheering Tim on to his inevitable early defeat. Shouts of 'Come on Tim' during play are obligatory, even if he's not involved in the match.
As Tiger Timmy nudges retirement age, sporting eyes have been desperately searching for another Brit who can pick up a tennis racquet without dropping it. Greg Rusedski was the great hope for a while, but he's turned to shit again and is Canadian anyway, so young Scot Andy Murray is the latest tennis star on whom the Great British Public's pathetic hopes can be pinned. I think they even renamed Henman Hill as Murray Mountain or something equally tenuous in his honour, but I think I was too busy rolling my eyes at the inanity of it all to fully take in the horror.
Every year without fail, most newspapers will complement the usual boring articles about Timmy and Andy and Greg with little 'fast fact' boxes which always list in great, mind-numbing detail how many strawberries, bottles of champagne, sandwiches, portions of fish and chips and indeed mouthfuls of air each social climbing wannabe will imbibe as they sit agog on Centre Court. Every year. Without fail. I see that today's Evening Standard has not disappointed me.
Flying the flag
Just as cricket stopped becoming a bore-a-thon beloved by men with eyebrow trimming issues and was reinvented as a sexy sport loved by all Brits and played by real men with bad dye jobs and libidos, tennis is similarly promoted to 'Nation's Favourite' status for two weeks in late June. Then when it's over, it's forgotten about again; the home-made banners and threadbare flags packed away until another year, or the next BNP rally, whichever is earliest.
It's impossible to get tickets unless you're filthy rich, queue for hours each morning, blag some corporate freebies or have sex with an official. Some people take two weeks off work and endeavour to try all four.
This year I don't think I'll be watching. I hardly recognise any of the players these days and all of that grunting can be off-putting. That said, if anybody's got a corporate freebie, wants to give me a ticket they queued for, is filthy rich or an official who'd like me to shag them in exchange for a ticket, email me at the usual address.