My Assault on the Centre Court

Friday 27th June 2014

Merle Barr, formerly Head of Children, said, ‘Let’s go to Wimbledon.’ So we did. No tickets. I did the ballot again this year. Nothing. On Wednesday I dined with some Gays. One had debenture seats from his Gran and another was going to the Centre Court Thursday. But I was having a breakdown waiting for a bus near Wimbledon station. Finally we gained Car Park 10 and The Queue.  To have sunk so low; the only resort was staging loud conversation about one’s tax situation. The queue was about three miles long. But it began to move. The attendants were quite encouraging and nice, as well as middle class. We ploughed along, talking about the Groucho Club. The boy behind was from Uni of Portsmouth according to his polo shirt. I noticed a certain level amongst the queuers. Perhaps they played tennis themselves. Would you believe it, within 1 1/2 hours we were in the ground? Straight up Murry Mound, picking around picnickers, to the Returns booth for the Show Courts. We gambled on the queue for No 1 Court as the shortest and fastest moving. But when we got to the very head of it, Sharapova won her match and the attendants said it might rain. Referee’s office were holding on a decision as to whether to put a fresh match on No 1 court. We began to get caught up in the drama of it all. Attendants were all retired businessmen. Rather marvellous. Decisive but polite. Fearsome frockage. Bombarded constantly by half-wits wanting to know how long matches would last, which queue for which show court they should join. 12 hours of this apparently; they do a 12-hour shift. Another Major-type steward was blowing up a boy for kicking his ball into the queue. People were getting return tickets for the Centre Court for £10. They were going to see Federer. The miracle of it made one of the great moments in their lives, you could tell. Look of utter wonder on their faces. They’d gambled on the queue for Centre Court returns and won. Off they lunged to get in. Meanwhile queue for Court No 1 still stalled. The Met Office itself was advising the Referee’s office. At 7, Merle said we should cut our losses. Spots of rain could surely be ignored. Skies were clearing in my opinion. We found a match on Court 18. Two huge men were opposed. ‘We must see at least two strokes of tennis,’ Merle said. Which we did. But I made her forge on to Court 11 where Boris Becker was playing. On the way, Roger Federer flashed by at the end of a corridor, coming off the Centre Court because they were shutting the roof. When we got to Court 11, the match had just finished. We took a Ladies’ Doubles instead. The Japanese umpire got off her ladder to feel the court for rain but play continued. One and a half points later she changed her mind and declared full rain although it wasn’t quite. Merle wanted to go back to the whippy, slamy men’s match. She’d rather never have left it. But by now it was bucketing down. We took refuge underneath the Centre Court. Awful cement bunker. After toilets, though, developments. I found that you could glimpse, by peering up a staircase, you could actually see into the eaves of the very Centre Court itself. Much carry-on in the bunker. More of the wondrous drama, the life-long quest to get in. Some were begging tickets directly from people leaving. There was jolliness with the guards as well. A young man in a good pink jumper seemed to think they would simply admit him, ticketless. Some small boys were waiting with balls. Apparently they would be allowed in at the end to get the balls autographed. We engaged with the guards. Everyone was having such a good time, especially the people doing jobs. Finally, it seemed they would let us into the stands at change of ends, just to peek and take graphs. But would it really happen? We hung about. This bunker was seething with life. Troops of linespeople passed by. Press persons. Best not to catch the eye of the guard too much. Mustn’t pester. But suddenly we were beckoned. Up the stairs and there it was. The Centre Court. All my life seen on TV every summer from the days of Billie Jean and Margaret Court, in black and white. In fact, not like itself at all, not just because the roof was over – a vast cavern, with stands reaching up into the darkness under the eaves, overwhelmingly dark green, a great plateau in the middle with a slumped figure sitting on a chair. That was Federer looking like himself.

After this triumph we went home. On the District Line two out-of-town ladies were saying how much they’d enjoyed the Queue – such chats and camaraderie. Merle Barr had to address me through them because we were separated owing to crowds. ‘I’m so sorry,’ she said, in Greatness, to the ladies, ‘I’m talking through you.’ When they got off at Earlsy Courtsy, they said, ‘Well, Adrian, now you’ll be able to sit next to your wife.’ I have to say I was wearing my Balenciaga cardy.

But it was a perfect day, and I ended up with a wife.

I Joined the Queue at Wimbledon: Have Never Sunk So Low

Linesman on Outside Court: Nice

We See Federer!

The Players’ Entrance to the Centre Court, Easy to See From Outside

Underneath the Centre Court: Good Pink Jumper Hoped to Persuade Guards to Admit Him

Finally, After A Lifetime, I Gain the Centre Court: Federer Resting

My View of Wimbledon 2014

More Fashion and Looks Beneath the Centre Court

Yes But It Rained Later: Balenciaga Background

Posted Friday, June 27, 2014 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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