On the sofa and down with the play­ers

The Guardian Weekly - - Comment & Debate - Tim Dowl­ing

As a home-worker, the ar­rival of Wim­ble­don pro­vides a jolt to my al­ready un­sta­ble work/life bal­ance. At no other point in the year do I use my time so poorly.

I’m not even a par­tic­u­lar ten­nis fan; it’s just that the tour­na­ment pro­vides live, of­fice-hours dis­trac­tion. Each morn­ing I plan my day around dead­lines, ad­min and emails. Then I turn on the TV. I feel like the New Jersey gover­nor, Chris Christie, stretched out on a closed state beach, alone and in­ert, en­joy­ing a priv­i­lege I don’t de­serve.

Imag­ine my open­ing-day dis­ap­point­ment when, in­stead of be­ing sprawled on the sofa, I found my­self on a train, head­ing for an ap­point­ment. This is not how it’s sup­posed to go. I’m a free­lance writer – I’m not sup­posed to have to be any­where.

I was try­ing to keep tabs on Andy Mur­ray, not easy on the tube, where the phone only con­nects to wifi when the train is in a sta­tion. Once the third set was un­der way, the score re­mained un­changed. Why is this hap­pen­ing? Why to me? I should have guessed why: It was rain­ing.

An­other dispir­it­ing fea­ture, ac­cord­ing to the play­ers, is the Wim­ble­don groan: the sigh the crowd emits after a dou­ble fault, just to show how let down they feel. Not an­gry, just dis­ap­pointed. It can be life-sap­ping. It can be so de­bil­i­tat­ing to morale that Pat Cash had to con­sult a sports psy­chol­o­gist. While the groan that fol­lows an easy mis­take is not unique to Wim­ble­don, it’s ap­par­ently eas­ier to hear on Cen­tre Court be­cause every­one is so quiet. I have long borne wit­ness to the de­struc­tive power of Bri­tish cour­tesy. I will watch the most dis­ap­point­ing per­for­mances with re­newed ad­mi­ra­tion.

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