I've not been to Ivory Coast, needless to add.
The next event on the summer of sport's calendar is Wimbledon, now in its second week. Quite extraordinary to see a British male reigning champion kicking (or rather hitting) everything off on Centre Court on the opening day. Andy Murray described the experience with typical aplomb - (shrugging gruffly) -"Yeah, uh, it was nice."
Annoyingly John Inverdale is still allowed to present the highlights programme on BBC2 in the evenings, despite his comments about Marion Bartoli after she won the women's final last year. Thankfully John McEnroe usually shows up to say something worth listening to, before they slip back to showing us footage of silly moments to silly songs and talking about socks. But with a rare flurry of nights out recently, I haven't been able to indulge even in this inanity too often. However, the tennis is on screen as I write this, as Andy Murray is playing Dimitrov. An interesting encounter for a certain two tennis-loving Bulgarians I used to work with, I am sure. Things are not looking too good for Murray at the moment.
I have at least been to see the tennis live at Wimbledon. Not for a long time now, but it was firmly in my London calendar when I lived there. For the 18 months I lived in Earlsfield I was in walking distance of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Naturally, that is an irrelevance for 50 weeks of the year. Nonetheless when the tennis was on, it was great to be able to stroll across fields to Southfields tube rather than battle my way there on the District Line. And I could stop off for the finest, most delicate and beautiful curry of my life at the incredible Sarkhels (now, alas no more) on Replingham Road on the way home.
Most years I just turned up and queued, smuggling in my own strawberries and cans of Pimms to save money, but one year I was lucky enough to get tickets in the ballot for Centre Court on ladies quarter-final day. Unfortunately the weather wasn't particularly kind that year and - as it was before the roof was built - there were a lot of rain delays. However, as the ladies in the quarter final consisted mostly of the Williams sisters in their element, the matches were rattled through very quickly when they did get to play. And our seats were far enough up in the stadium that we had shelter through the downpours. Because hanging around on the outside courts does get a little tedious when rain stops play. It's extraordinary how long it takes to get things started up again even after just the briefest of showers.
One year I got stuck up there watching what I thought was the most boring match I had ever seen. Jonas Bjorkman slugging it out against some boring Swiss bloke in a headband. It was a never-ending five-set struggle that had not one but two rain delays. The tennis was totally uninspiring. I was on my feet for hours with little reward. We were all waiting for Serena to come on next. The boring Swiss bloke won in the end. No one had ever heard of him, but in his next match he went on to beat defending champion Pete Sampras. And then everyone suddenly sat up and took notice. His name, of course, was Roger Federer.
|Some boring Swiss bloke in a headband|