Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Anyone for tennis?

One of the (many) upsides to dating YKW is that he manages to wangle tickets to some of the best events in town. And so on Saturday we had ring-side seats at the Ladies Wimbledon final. Since he had procured the tickets I agreed to prepare the picnic lunch. This doesn’t sound much of a chore. However, one of the (few) downsides to dating YKW is that when it comes to food he is like a 9 year old. He is the most unadventurous eater I’ve ever met. I packed cherries “I’m not really a cherry person”; I packed mozzarella “I’m not really a mozzarella person”’; I packed Green and Blacks biscuits “I’m not really an organic biscuit person”. So I enjoyed a picnic lunch that made the National Trust couple sitting on our picnic table green with envy while YKW munched on a banana, Dairy Lee triangles and Jammy Dodgers. Honestly, he's really just a big kid.

I was disappointed that Venus Williams wasn’t playing because she is so inspirational, so athletic and such a powerful player. YKW was disappointed that Maria Sharapova wasn’t playing because she is blonde, beautiful and has legs up to her arm pits. But instead, we had to make do with Amelie Mauresmo versus Justine Henin-Hardenne. Or, as it seemed to us, a man versus a midget.

The atmosphere was fantastic. There was a brass band on the corner of the court playing the usual brass-band favourites – Theme for Grandstand and Is this the way to Amarillo. The audience clapped along, although personally I was slightly puzzled as to where the band had come from. Do they have coal mines in Wimbledon?

At one point, just before the match, John McEnroe came onto the court to be interviewed by the BBC and he got a louder cheer than the two players did - when they eventually arrived. After a brief warm up the match began and for the first few moments it all felt very odd. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something felt different. I then realised that there was no commentary. Watching a tennis match without the commentators is a totally different experience. And a much more exciting one. There is nothing more annoying than following a point of tennis, only to be interrupted by some old BBC bod who is wittering on about the days of wooden rackets and Fred bloody Perry. Or John Lloyd, who never got further than the 2nd round of an ATP championship, remarking “What Federer needs to do is come into the net a bit more”. I’m sure Roger will be rushing home to write down your advice, John. On the down side though, there were some shots that were so fantastic that I’d have loved to see them again. But there is no action replay at a live match.

I hope I’m not making myself out to be a tennis expert. I very rarely play and Wimbledon is the only tournament I follow. So I can hardly claim to take the experience too seriously. In fact, at one moment on Saturday, I thought YKW and I would be thrown at. At a quiet lull in the match, someone called out (as they do) “Come on Justine!” and then someone else replied “Come on Amelie!” at which point YKW called out “Come on Henman!”. The serious couple to his right tutted audibly. At the next lull, when the “Come on Justine!” started up again, I called out “Come on Eileen!” to which the French lady to my left leaned towards me and said “It is pronounced Ah-Meh-Lee”. Obviously, Dexy’s Midnight Runners didn’t make it to France.

After the three-set match and the presentation of the gold shield, YKW and I decided to go home rather than stay for the mixed doubles. Well, we had important stuff to do (i.e. we had to be back in time for the Doctor Who series finale). So I missed seeing Venus Williams play live. And Andy Ram – the first Israeli player to win an ATP event. Instead, I sat on the sofa with YKW and Scrappino and I blubbered like a baby as Rose and the Doctor were parted forever. Now who's the big kid??

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

...I just couldn't stay away...

As Elton John once sang, the bitch is back. (He also sang Candle in the Wind, but that’s not really the point).

You will no doubt have noticed that there has been a rather lengthy hiatus here at suburban hymns. I apologise to all (both?) readers who have checked in on a regular basis only to find that I’ve not updated since April 8th. If it’s any consolation, I do feel very guilty about this and I feel I should explain.

Firstly, I blame You Know Who. It’s a case of being careful what you wish for. I wittered on for a whole year about my dating fiascos, meeting rubbish blokes and bemoaning my lot as a singleton. And then unexpectedly, out of nowhere (well, not exactly nowhere, out of North London) this rather lovely chap appeared and buggered up my entire shtick. So I found myself happy and settled with nothing much to moan about and the whole slant of this blog was suddenly out of kilter. Bloody men. You just can’t blog with ‘em. (Though, in case you’re wondering, it’s all going rather well. I will change a habit of a life time and leave the personal information at that).

Secondly, I have been writing elsewhere. Not on-line, but in private. A first for me. I am normally one to scatter my creativity with abandon, showering anyone who’ll listen with my latest offerings. But I’ve taken a rather large writing project on that I’m trying to keep under wraps until it’s finished. So the blog had to take a back seat while I concentrated on that. For a while at least.

Thirdly, there’s the World Cup. I’ve been totally hooked. If you’d told me six months ago that I would watch every game in the entire competition I’d have laughed in your face. But that was before I factored in YKW being a football fanatic and Scrappino catching the footie bug from his friends. The result has been a soccer-fest of ridiculous proportions. There are three wall charts in my flat which Scrappino has lovingly filled in, listing every game, the teams, the scores, even the penalty shoot-out results. I even considered joining in the jingoistic fervour of the nation by investing in a St George Cross flag for my car. But I drive a Skoda and I was worried that the weight might tip the balance and topple the car over. (You can tell it’s been a while – I’m making Skoda gags).

It goes without saying that I’ve been supporting the English team (much good it did them). But I’ve taken an interest in the other matches too. Only, like most Jewish viewers, every match had to be viewed from the perspective of how each of the countries has treated the Jews. This is not as easy at it sounds. Obviously, we all cheered when Germany lost. But some of the fixtures posed very difficult dilemmas. Ukraine versus Iran was a tricky one. Talk about a rock and a hard place. I mean, who do we want to lose more?? Or Saudi Arabia versus Croatia? The commentators were no help. Filling the half time discussion with their views on goal defence strategies without a single mention of the Arab boycott or the massacre of 1942. How is a girl to know who to support??

Meanwhile, the sporting bug reached Scrappino’s school just in time for the annual Sports Day. Scrappino came home today with two stickers on his t-shirt – both with a rosette and “2nd” printed on them. He’d come second in two races. One was the running race. I congratulated him on his success but he admitted that he’d not been in a very difficult line-up. Just him, Sam and five girls. “So Sam won then?” I asked. “No, Natasha did” he replied. The other was the sack race. I resisted the urge to praise him for being so good in the sack. “I’ll keep that one for the blog”, I thought.

And so I did.

It’s good to be back.