Image courtesy Wikipedia
June has arrived and it really has been flaming hot. I’m a cool person, by which I mean I don’t enjoy the heat, so as much as I love to see the sun and birds and bees I’ll appreciate them from a shady spot with a cool drink to hand.
In England, June means Wimbledon and the annual national outcry for an English champion. This has been amended in recent years, since Tim Henperson retired from competition, to a desire for a British titleholder and no, we won’t settle for ‘also ran’. The hill outside the courts has been renamed from Henman Hill to Murray Mound, which somehow doesn’t sound so grand. This is where the hopeful faithful foregather in front of a huge screen and wave their flags while sporting silly hats.
Murraymint has had to work hard on his charm. Claiming to be interested only in the game and not welcoming interviews, he has had to relent and has even been known to smile on occasion. It’s a shame really, as his mother and brother are very smiley people. He has learnt, reluctantly one feels, to respond to interviewers with more than a brusque remark and has also had to amend his Scottishness to Britishness. What is it with the Scots? They want independence although they still need money from Westminster and have you ever counted the number of Scots living in the south of England? The Houses of Parliament are stuffed with Scots, mostly lawyers . . . I digress . . .
The British public has come to accept Murray, if not actually love him, as he is the only hope on the horizon to break a 75-year duck since the last British man to win Wimbledon. That was Fred Perry who won the championship three years in a row. Virginia Wade won for the women in 1977, the Queen’s silver jubilee year, so we really have had a very dry spell. Anyway, the tennis-loving Brits have been exercising their tonsils ready to cheer on the dour Anydman. Every ball he gets over the net will be met with rapturous applause. We Brits know how to encourage our players.
Ladies' (back) and Gentlemen's singles trophies
Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
With the imminent opening of the two week orgy of tennis known as Wimbledon, the public courts and private clubs have become busy, busy places. They are peopled with hordes of sweating racquet-wielding individuals in multi-coloured and often ill-advised sportswear, muscles trembling with fatigue, as they attempt to convince themselves and any passer-by that, given the right opportunities, they would have scooped the silver gilt trophy many moons ago.
I have no pretensions to that. When Barry and I were a lot younger we played doubles against opponents I will refer to as Y and Z to save their blushes. We had power but it was uncontrolled. Y and Z could hardly hold up their racquets. Our shots tore back like speeding bullets - they had so much energy that they flew on into the next court. Our opponents’ returns barely crept over the net. We needed a court twice the length and they needed one half the size. It was an unequal match and we didn’t repeat the exercise.
I don’t think the top prizes will go to the British players this year. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal remain the two best players in the world, powerful, strong and gracious when interviewed. English is not the mother tongue for either of them but they charm far more readily than the sulky Scot.
I just hope Nadal has finally managed to find a pair of underpants that are comfortable . . .