Yep! I’ve let myself – and all my readers – down again! Believe me, I have every intention of posting twice a week – preferably on a Monday and Friday – but I’ve decided to go all hippy and Que Sera-ish (à la Doris Day) and let it all wash over me; any pressure, that is! Not sure it’s the best way to go. Perhaps a happy medium …
Anyway, yesterday seemed to run away with me. Maybe I was mourning the official end of summer? Well, Wimbledon is over so that’s it! Yes, I know, it never started, this year, but I suppose it could be likened to having one’s arm amputated but still feeling it?! I recorded Sue every evening, over the fortnight, and wallowed in nostalgia – and glimpses of Borg – but Sunday afternoon saw me glued, for three hours, to the Best of the Men’s Finals and I savoured every second of it. Starting with that of 1975, the years were erased as Arthur Ashe beat Connors to become the first black man to win in the history of The Championships. Oh, help. I’ve just counted that out on my fingers and it was forty-five years ago … Forget my maths, no wonder my hair is so bad! Anyway, back to Arthur Ashe. He died in February 1993 from AIDS-related pneumonia having contracted HIV from a blood transfusion he was given during heart by-pass surgery in the early 80s. He was 49. He is not forgotten, however, nor will he be. Ranked No 2 in the world in May 1976, his tennis prowess was never in question but, equally important to him was social justice, the campaign for which he devoted much of his short life. Seeing that footage of him, once more, and hearing him speak reminded me of his quiet intelligence and presence. Yes, that was it. He had a presence. Not for him raised voices, foul language or violence of any sort. Instead, he utilised the power of words; the power of persuasion; the power ignited by a passionate belief in justice. He didn’t define himself by the colour of his skin and, thus, ensured he would be remembered for so much more.
Weird. I had no intention of writing about Arthur Ashe but, then, today’s climate only serves to make his memory ever more powerful. Back to my Sunday afternoon at SW19 … It was the Top 10 Men’s Finals, over the years, and, of course, my teenage idol featured more than once: Borg v McEnroe of 1981 (skim over that being that he lost and it was the end of his five-year run!) and then the infamous battle of 1980 from which Borg emerged triumphant. Hailed as fire and ice, I think I had to pour myself a glass of wine at this point! On my own, I might add. Suffice to say, I was right back in the Morning Room at Lyndhurst with Mummy insisting that Borg was dull while Pop applauded his sportsmanship and manners. Me? Nothing to do with the shorts, he just had it! The shorts, though … didn’t they all look so much better, then? So much smarter befitting a sport of gents. Fast forward to the match which topped the chart – 2008, Federer v Nadal – and the downslide of the passing years was clear to see. Nadal was wearing a scarf round his head, a vest and flimsy shorts to his knees with tape round both! He looked like Mowgli! As for Federer, well, he was considerably smarter but he has been known to appear, on court, in a bespoke jacket and trousers combo over his shorts, only to remove them to play! His shorts are, or were, of course, too long – not in Nadal’s league – but, those aside, his fixation with fashion and his celebrity friends mean it is a ‘No’ from me.
SW19. Possessing of magic. Re-living the old footage, it was as though the film was in sepia; the sun affording a different, more gentle hue. It seemed ever-present and the grass a paler green, worn away to a dusty brown as the fortnight progressed. Now, as in life, the colours are harsher; the sun, more fickle. The prestige remains but no more just the player, his coach and a racket – wooden, at that! Now, it is a business and that player is the lead singer in a band comprising of coach, physio, psychologist, nutritionist, accountant, to name but a few; no doubt lawyer, fashion designer and nose hair remover to boot! What happened to real men? Suffice to say, the sport has succumbed to greed and ego – but not Wimbledon. Well, I concede, most of the seats on Centre Court are corporate – left empty by those who enjoy the kudos but prefer the hospitality to the actual game – but, somehow, that does little to deter those whose love for the sport, and the accompanying etiquette it demands, remains. How I miss the gentlemanly tones of Dan Maskell; the voice of summers gone. A metaphor for a changed world, it seems that Wimbledon, alone, refuses to forego that which is quintessentially English and, thankfully, there are still a few of us who are very grateful! Sorely missed in 2020, I am prepared to throw my all at the slings and arrows of the coming months, with the promise of its return in 2021 …
It is the 14th July today. Yesterday, 35 years ago, it was Live Aid. Who could forget? Well, anyone reading this under the age of 35, I suppose! I watched a programme charting its inception to delivery, last night, with Sir Bob at his unmistakable best. He’s hard not to like but then, again, he falls into that category of celebs about whom one is just not sure … Hats off to the guy, though. A one-off who not only made possible the impossible but, more tellingly, volunteered to raise the daughter of his late ex-wife, and the partner for whom she left him, as his own. Beneath that boorish bravado must lie a heart of gold.
I desperately need another word for ‘anyway’ as I, continually veer off piste. What I intended to write was that I couldn’t end without mentioning the fact that today – 14th July – 35 years ago, still happens to be one of the happiest of my life, to date. We were going home! Van packed, Kelloggs t-shirts on (don’t ask), we left our rented basement flat on Richmond Green (£300/mth) and headed north back to Edinburgh and our new home – 14 Comely Bank Street. I had done it and survived. Lived in London, that is, and on The Green, no less! We had some good times but it was never going to be for me and I was desperate to get back to Scotland. Thing is, life is all about highs and lows and one has to go away in order to come back. I bought a little sign in St Wolfgang, last Christmas, which reads: The Best Journey Always Takes Us Home. So true … funny how it seems … No!
So it is that I have written over a thousand words, seemingly, about nothing. My notes abound including Made in China, the ridiculous suggestion that Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory be banned from Last Night of the Proms, and the prospect of new software which adds ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, automatically, in emails! God help us! Such a pity I have run out of time but, don’t worry, there is always my Seriously?! page … and tomorrow is another day.
‘From what we get, we can make a living. What we give, however, makes a life.’
This is Trish, signing off.