Wimbledon fortnight starts Monday, one of the Top 10 shrillest sporting events on the face of the Earth.
Despite the fact it is a magnet for braying upper middle-class Aga enthusiasts and certified poshoes who think even the Queen is too common for the Royal enclosure, I love Wimbledon. It’s really easy to watch – just the right ratio of dullness to nail biting tension. Plus tennis players are much more bangable than football players.
My ‘love affair’ with Wimbledon properly began as I waited to start my second year at university. Rather than pay summer rent and leave my student house empty, I lived in it. I couldn’t find a job, so I spent two blissful, scorching weeks lying on my belly, eating strawberries, chain-smoking Marlboro Lights and watching Wimbledon on the old black and white TV that had once sat in my grandma’s kitchen. It is about as hedonistic as I am ever likely to be.
So Wimbledon is great and harmless enough, especially now they have (begrudgingly) sorted out that equal pay row, but something happens to the UK in general while it’s on which makes living here kind of unbearable.
People do strange things. And here are 30, love.
1. Ridiculous claims about strawberries and champagne in the papers.
Without fail, on the first day of Wimbledon, at least one newspaper will feature some totally bullshit story about how much champagne and strawberries are consumed during the tournament. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, they’ll tell you how many times these strawberries could fill Centre Court or how many oceans the champagne quaffing could drain.
The figures are a) always bullshit and b) totally impossible to verify. I will give £5 to anyone who attempts to fill Centre Court with strawberries. Five. Pounds.
2. Cameras will zoom in on a tennis player’s girlfriend or wife every time he swears, misses a point, coughs, looks at the umpire, takes a sip of his drink, anything.
Female tennis players’ husbands and boyfriends will be roundly ignored unless they are obviously pissed watching. And as for gay players’ partners – ha, forget it, baby.
3. Pimm’s will all of a sudden be inexplicably more fucking EVERYWHERE than it was before.
You didn’t think it were possible, but there it is. Its logo, sickly sweet smell and distant yelps of “Pimms O’Clock” slowly pressing on your cerebral cortex until you black out mid-July.
4. You’ll miss the match you really want to see.
Because there’s nobody British in it, so it is taking place in a makeshift tennis court behind Pizza Express and there are no cameras.
5. You’ll refuse to queue for on-the-day tickets.
Most Londoners have got a super-keen friend who suggests this; every year you will put them off with “Maybe next year”.
6. Your super dull and unadventurous friends will tell you “Maybe next year.”
7. You’ll have to endure that Facebook friend who’s got amazing tickets right next to Murray’s towel without even trying and doesn’t even like tennis.
8. Spurred on by this, you’ll load up the site for the ticket ballot.
You’ll then close the window as the form looks too complicated.
9. You’ll have an argument with someone about whether Novak Djokovic is hot or not.
(He’s hot FYI.)
10. Someone you previously thought was a cool person will make a joke about all female tennis players being lesbians.
11. Virginia Wade’s 1977 win will be mentioned.
12. Sue Barker.
Look out for her conducting interviews doing that half-laughing, “sorry to bother you but can you tell me if I’m on the right road to get to Merthyr Tydfil” voice she does when she clearly hasn’t watched the match she’s talking about and instead was on a different court, dreaming about Ilie Nastase.
13. It will rain.
If it doesn’t, people will actually be disappointed because there’ll be nothing to moan about.
14. There’ll be a joke about /a clip of cliff Richard singing in the rain that time.
15. Someone will shout “Come on Tim” during a Murray match.
And we’ll all pretend we’re not the whitest, most desperate people on planet Earth.
16. Endless commentary and bitchy press coverage of Judy Murray.
Her crushes on other tennis players, her appearance on Strictly, how she’s an ogre or over-protective or steely or whatever. And very little about the sacrifices she made for Andy and the hard work she put in to get him where he is.
17. There’ll be loads of “wry sideways look at Wimbledon” listicles.
A bit like this very one you are possibly still reading. There isn’t any escape from these. You can click on the x and shut down the page and go about your business but eventually you’ll find your eyes sliding over another one. They’ll all mention the rain. Rain.
18. You must endure Wikipedia pub quiz wankers.
They will tell you the little-known fact that everybody knows which is the tournament isn’t actually held in Wimbledon itself but somewhere called Southfields nearby. You’ll give zero fucks.
19. If Andy Murray smiles, everyone will go on about it like he just pulled a stream of courgette ‘spaghetti’ from his arse.
If he doesn’t? Same. Nobody is quite sure why we need British tennis players to smile a lot, but apparently we do so Andy is just going to have to fall into line on this one.
20. There’ll be an “umpire incident”
John McEnroe’s frankly embarrassing tirades will get a mention or, if it rains, shown again for an entire day.
21. A presenter will froth wildly over how much the most modern of the courts cost to refurbish.
22. There’ll be a shock Round 1 exit.
It will be the person you had a bet on.
23. Ironic Union Jack face-paint on people who take four seconds to pronounce the ‘a’ in Bath.
24. BBC Weather’s Carol will test your patience.
The queen of relentless cheerfulness will give a weather report right next to a tennis court while it’s being white-lined, essentially getting in everyone’s way but hey it’s Wimbledon.
25. This song will not be a hit. Again. Even though it should be.
26. There will be a Beckham.
The camera will not be able to tear itself away from whichever Beckham or Royal has turned up to the final, even though they’re only there to break in their new shoes.
This is probably going to be Brooklyn’s turn on the rota to look bored and stylish in the VIP enclosure.
27. Someone will tweet a joke about not knowing who the Duchess of Kent is
Disclaimer: before I published this I had to google to double-check HRH was still with us.
28. The commentators’ bantz will be off the scale and massively misjudged.
Either that or they will bang on about their own careers, like the world’s dullest PowerPoint.
29. Greg Rusedski will show up to comment on Andy Murray’s successes.
And it will be more awkward than that bit in Spiceworld: The Movie where the pregnant former member shows up to rehearsal and bores everyone to death with her maternity chat.
30. “Come on Tim.” Again.