For a moment on Sunday I really thought I wasn’t going to pull it off. My preparation had been faultless – the older girls had both headed out in shorts, sunnies and bikinis with the purposeful look of sunbathers who would not be back before dark, Jack was off to the lido with his pals and the fridge was full of strawberries and cream. I had four clear hours before anyone needed feeding, walking or bathing – time enough for a five setter of Borg v Lendl proportions.
Then Katy announced she had a party un-handily timed between 2pm and 4pm on Finals Day. I felt like throwing a McEnroe “You Cannot Be Serious” tantrum. But let me help you understand where I’m coming from. As a teenager I camped out on the pavement outside Wimbledon for two nights to be in with a chance of a standing-room-only ticket on the Centre Court. I’d once been hauled off screaming during the fifth set of a Borg and Connors gladiatorial clash to make the coach home from a school trip and since then I’ve even been lucky enough to be a guest at corporate dos.
It’s a lifetime since Virginia Wade’s agonisingly tense win in 1977 gave us a British victory and I grew up thinking that the British were about as good at tennis as they were at baseball. Now, with Murray about to make history as the first British champion in 77 years and it looked as if my chances of spending the afternoon on the sofa screaming “Come ON Andy!” had gone the way of Rafa’s dreams.
I arrived at the party grumpier than Murray on the wrong end of a Federer final. Then I caught it. Mingling with the sound of over-excited eight year olds spotting a chocolate fountain was the unmistakable rumble of armchair punditry. “I tell you – don’t underestimate Murray’s fitness – he’s come from two sets behind and he can do it again.” “Mind you, the boy Djokovic’s a machine I tell you.”
Katy’s friend’s mum had cannily booked the party at the local Done Our Bit Club, which not only has a function room, but a bar with two widescreen TVs – one for the tennis and one for the football – and they fitted the bingo in between sets.
So while Katy was happily playing on the bouncy castle I was next door in the snug watching the first two sets of Murray mania with a running commentary of old boys who, like me, remembered the golden age of Borg, McEnroe and Connors. What we lacked in technical expertise we made up for in sheer enthusiasm and a shared memory of sage observations from the days of Dan Maskell and long-shadowed evenings when Centre Court belonged to Ilie Nastase and Jimmy Connors and that bloke with the flat hat and his beardy mate (That would be Hewitt and McMillan. Ed).
The cake-cutting and party bags coincided nicely with Murray taking the second set, so we raced back with the speed of a Wimbledon ball boy and were back home to see the last three games of the agonising third set.
Wasn’t it fab to see him do a Pat Cash and scale the seats to give Lendl and the gorgeous and superhumanly swishy-haired Kim a hug? But trust Andy to avoid the saccharine photo op and not make a song and dance about hugging his mum. We went from shouting, “Come ON Andy!” to, “What about your Mum?!” It says something that he was able to joke that he, “completely forgot her” when he, she and we all know how impossible that would be. He may be proudly Scottish but to be both self-deprecating and classically undemonstrative on the biggest day of his career shows he must be a true Brit.
Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn