(subtitled: it’s not life and death, it’s just Wimbledon, sigh. Now can I have my radio back, please?)
It’s not that long ago that I effectively promised that the blog’s ventures into the real world would remain topical rather than political – that when major sporting events were on I would give them as much treatment as the current political situation.
I despise Wimbledon. With a passion you could only vaguely grope at, like a sixteen-year-old boy trying to cop his first feel in the back row of the cinema. Assuming that sort of thing even happens nowadays – they seem to be too busy on social media, throwing popcorn, or trying to record the film on their smartphones.
If you live in Britain, you know the score – for two weeks in the summer every single year, the UK seems to lose its wits: I mean even more than normal.
Take this year for example: the fact that our public services are crashing round our ears; the growing realisation that our ‘government’ is weak and wobbly rather than strong and stable; the sense that we are increasingly becoming a ball boy on court 11 rather than a player on centre court in the eyes of the rest of the world (oops, I got political) – these and many, many more ills are set aside, because the main thing is that our senior male player may or may not make it in this very upper-middle class sport. The recent front page of our highest-circulating ‘newspaper’ follows – but it may as well be something out of King James‘ Daemonologie, or 1591’s Newes from Scotland, about the North Berwick Witch Trials:
Is this worse, or more laudable, than a World Cup, you might ask? Worse. For a simple reason – for 50 weeks of the year absolutely no-one gives a flying damn about tennis. ‘Wimbo’ is as much an affront as the chest of tennis balls sent over to Henry V by that great sport, the Dauphin. For two weeks, it dominates – it:
doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves. (Cassius: JULIUS CAESAR, I.ii.134-137)
I say that because it is somehow distasteful, unpatriotic, not to enjoy Wimbledon. To declare, as Brutus does, that:
I am not gamesome (I.ii.28)
… earns at best disappointment, at worst contempt, from people who will forget in 14 days’ time that the event ever happened, or that the sport even exists. Until next year, when they get their tattered Union Jack bunting out, don their whites, sip Pimms and demolish mountains of (Spanish) strawberries and cream again …
I urge you to treat those tennis balls with the contempt they deserve. Whenever someone tries to shove them down your throat – turn them to ‘gun-stones’! (Henry V: I.ii.283)
LIne references are to the relevant Arden Third Editions