In yesterday’s [Tuesday’s] post Ed Lines said ‘Andy Murray, we salute you’. Speak for yourself, Ed. Yes I’ve warmed to Muzza post his lip quivering acknowledgement of the crowd at this year’s Wimbledon and I whooped and cheered (and for a second ‘liked’ him) when he won the Olympic gold. But I won’t salute him. Not til he wins Wimbledon – and the rest. I’m still cross he doesn’t like English people.
As I went to bed last night listening to Radio 4 updating me on Murray’s progress, and woke to it again informing me of Murray’s win, I realised something rather ironic. Today, I too am playing tennis. Which shouldn’t necessarily warrant irony but it does, for I never play sport.
I feel this is a sign – of victory. And I very much hope it is, because in spite of the fact I never play tennis, I am exceedingly competitive. Quite why I am I’m sure I don’t know. I’m shit. At every sport. Nevertheless, somewhere in the depths of my belly is the dogged British belief that I CAN do it, if I REALLY apply myself.
Fired up by Murray’s win, I’ve been thinking about my game of tennis all day long. If that curly haired grumpster can defy all expectations, so can I. What’s more, I will feel like a professional whilst I’m doing it, for my dear friend S (who has kindly – and foolishly – invited me) told me to pack my ‘tennis whites’. I thought she was joking. I don’t even know if I own tennis whites.
A quick rummage around in my closet confirms, oddly, I do in fact own tennis whites. Or ‘white’ singular. It’s a 1960s all in one tennis dress that I bought for a party – 5 years ago. It’s very small and it’s exceedingly short and… Sod that for a laugh, I’m going to squeeze myself into it anyway.
I look like a stuffed loo roll. No matter. Just as long as no one can see my pants.
I practice bending forward in front of the mirror and inadvertently flash a builder working outside. Thank god my housemate is away is all I can say.
I feel sick. My knickers are wholly, utterly and completely on display. And it doesn’t matter if I kneel down, squat delicately or jump not as high as I would usually jump, they are visible. And I have to be at the court in 45 minutes. And there’s no time to find anything else. And even if there was time I don’t HAVE anything else, nor the money to BUY anything else. This is a disaster.
Deep breaths. Right, let me think about it. I used to work in some sort of PR capacity; I can work this to my advantage [tennis language]. I want to win. VERY badly. I’m certain my skills on the court, even with the best of rackets and the bounciest of balls, won’t lead me to my desired victory. So I’m going to resort to some underhand ‘distracting’ tactics.
I shall wear… NO KNICKERS AT ALL.
I’m joking obviously, but I can’t say the thought didn’t flash through my mind.
I feel sick. I know I’ve already said that but it’s true. Right, I’ve packed my little tennis bag (aka freebie canvas bag from Daunt Books) and I’m off. Will continue writing on my return.
[5 hours later]
So I lost.
And I wish I could say my doubles partner had something to do with it. But I can’t. He basically carried me through the entire game – indeed, if he’d been actually carrying me I surmise we might have done better. To be fair it wasn’t a totally horrendous defeat: 6-4, 6-4…and by the last set, I’d lost track I was too mortified.
I kept having those moments, like in the film Wimbledon or how Muzza would have felt at 2 sets all last night, where you give yourself a frank talking to, convincing yourself you’re on the verge of breaking through, tapping into your tennis demon and pulling back form. The trouble is, there is nowhere for me to pull back form from. And that’s because it was never there in the first place. When I get a point in tennis it’s not ‘Good shot!’ it’s ‘Good luck?’
Urgh, cringing at the memory. If only I didn’t feel so utterly wretched. ‘For god’s sake,’ I was telling myself, ‘hit the sodding ball over the net in between those very obvious lines and be done with it’. Why is that so difficult?
The most humiliating attempts were when I dived for a shot and it flew under my armpit. Or when a perfect ball came hurtling my way and in panic and I just stood there like a lemon, staring at it.
Get a grip.
I don’t mind personally bearing the brunt of this embarrassment, but the fact I brought someone else down with me – my dear friend D – was just too shameful. If you ever read this, I’m sorry D…I tried my best.
Perhaps I steer clear from tennis from now on. Or at least from playing against my opponents – S, with her ‘I’m so rubbish’ aces (LIES) and J with his casual 200mph serves, basically aimed at my head (no not really, but I like to sound dramatic).
It’s the taking part that counts!
Tripe. It’s all about winning. And I didn’t.
But Muzza did.
I think about this for a bit and then come to the conclusion, I’m certain I’ll succeed one day. For as I grind my teeth pondering Murray having one up on me, I realise something wonderful: I’m a curly haired grumpster now too.
By Beenie Langley