It's that time of year again: strawberries, rain, athletic young folk leaping about in whites, and the gentle thwack of balls. Tennis balls, that is. Yup, Wimbledon is here again. Two weeks of joy for tennis fans, two weeks of fuming and searching the tv listings for *anything* that isn't tennis for those of a less sporting persuasion. But hey, it is only once a year.
For me, it's two weeks of bliss that bring back happy memories of perching on Mum's knee and watching the likes of Ilie Nastase and a young Jimmy Connors on a grainy black and white tv. These days it's slightly less of an event, simply because thanks to cable television there's more chance to catch up with our tennis heroes and heroines week in, week out. Back then, if you missed the action at Wimbledon, you'd have to wait a whole year before you saw tennis again, with the minor exception of the US Open final. Not the whole tournament, you understand - just the final.
So, for the next two weeks I may not be at my desk much. Instead you can find me camped in the living room with a tray of sandwiches, and perhaps a laptop, hooked up to the telly and imbibing tennis intravenously. As long as it doesn't rain, of course. Because Wimbledon is played on grass, the matches have to be stopped if it rains, in case someone slips over and hurts themselves. This year, the All England Club have gone to vast expense to fit a roof over Centre Court, so that at least one match can continue if the heavens open. Normally the spectators hate rain because it plays havoc with their viewing schedule. This year, according to a BBC website survey, 80% actually want it to rain so they can see the new roof in action.
Including me, I'm ashamed to say.