It’s Wimbledon Fortnight Once More Which Means Game, Set And Match to……..Well Not An Englishman?
There are two things that really blacken my mood each year. One is the onset of winter and the other is the approaching two weeks of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. It’s that time of year when we English luxuriate in being complete shite at a tennis tournament which is generally viewed as the world’s greatest. A kind of unofficial world cup if you like. This hallowed sanctuary of grass, tradition, blazers, officials, rules, more rules, incessant rain, strawberries and very early British casualties!
And let me just say straight off before anybody leaves a smart arse comment. Andy Murray is Scottish OK? Along with millions of others I have never forgotten that little cat he let out of his sporran when, in mock jest, he announced that in any foot ball tournament he would ‘support whoever England were playing against’. Although I have long since enjoyed the way that he squirms in his best ‘I was only joking’ face whenever it’s brought up. So that’s that out of the way.
But apart from the miserable Scot, it’s the noisy, unknowledgeable crowds that I hate most of all. What with all of the teenage pubescent like shrieking during a rally, before they all collapse with laughter whenever a player almost decapitates himself on the umpire’s chair as he tries to reach an unreachable volley. And then when the umpire then tells them all to be quiet they start applauding like penguins before feeding-time in that English ‘quite-right-too kind of way’ as if it was someone else making all the racket. And yet the vast majority of these tennis morons know next to shag-all about tennis whatsoever. If you don’t believe me then just ask any one of them the name of the current Australian women’s singles champion and they would stare back at you like an inmate at an asylum. That’s because they have no wider interest in tennis apart from telling their two friends that they went to Wimbledon!
So what about the players? Well I reckon that most of them only take up the sport with the sole aim of retiring as multi-millionaires at the age of twenty-five which may account for the fact that the game is completely devoid of personalities. Yet all it takes is for one player to swear in a moment of stress, and the BBC complaints department telephone glows so hot you could use it to cut your way into a bank vault.
But none of the players ever seem to smile do they? It’s all so very serious and heaven forbid if you speak or you’ll be executed. And don’t give me all that tosh about them just being concentrated on the game. It takes less than a second to be polite and to thank the ball girl who’s just handed you back your wet sweaty towel. Personally if I was one of the ball boys I’d be blowing my nose into it between rallies before I handed it back. Anyway, I can’t think of anything worse than being a ball boy or girl, apart from missing school for a week or two. They have to go through vigorous training and all the while only being acknowledged as a number!! Yes, you heard me correctly. A number, because nobody cares about their name. They must call everybody by sir or miss and if they don’t then it’s back to school with them. Oh…and they don’t get paid!
And have you noticed this new phenomenon of the modern game where the players now turn after almost every point toward their coterie of chums in their ever-present entourage for approval? A coterie that usually consists of their trainer, their hitting coach, at least one psychotic parent, and their current partner, whom, depending on their sexuality, is usually referred to as a ‘good friend’.
Oh and then we get to the rip-off prices on food and drink at which Wimbledon is also an unofficial world champion! A glass of Pimms, sir? Eighty quid please.’ And that’s before you get around to the ye olde Wimbledon tradition of eating scrumptious strawberries and cream. Well for a start they’re not that olde and the strawberries aren’t that scrumptious. Still, it’s all part of the experience, rather liking eating candy-floss at the fairground, but just don’t expect any change from a fifty-pound note!! Then there’s the queuing prowess where the English literally jump at any opportunity to form one. So, there will be queues to get onto your preferred choice of transport to get to the tournament, queues to get into the grounds, queues to get into the courts, queues for refreshments, queues for toilet facilities, queues to join a queue, queues to leave a queue.
If you also happen to be a tourist and staying in a nearby hotel well then good luck with that because you’ll soon find that Wimbledon is a long way from your hotel or anywhere else in London. The famous SW19 club can be reached by bus, train, or tube from central London. The first option takes the better part of the Wimbledon fortnight to reach its destination, the second rarely works, and the third requires you to sit in stifling conditions for up to an hour at ruinous expense. Whichever option you plump for, you stand a good chance of being asphyxiated and/or suffering permanent psychological damage before you ever get to hear the phrase ‘New balls please.’
But, and here’s the question. Why are the English so shite at this tennis lark? Well for a start it’s not really a working-class sport is it? And as such isn’t very accessible. It’s rarely, if ever, played in state schools, very few public parks now contain tennis courts and any parents with a young Federer or a Venus Williams on their hands will need to sell their house and the house of their relatives to enable them to afford the prohibitive joining fee of the private tennis club three and a half hour’s drive away! But none of this occupies the minds of the giggling, screeching Wimbledon set who will settle down into their over-charged seating while
They cheer on anyone considered an underdog, any former champions, and generally anyone who’s a bit shite which basically covers all of the English players?
20th June 2016