Friday, 3 July 2009

How We Laughed At Wimbledon

As I watched the Wimbledon semi-final between Andy Roddick and Scotland’s Andy Murray, a wayward Roddick serve drifted across causing a line judge to take evasive action and dodge the ball fizzing towards him. He seemed fairly nonchalant about the whole incident, but the crowd’s badly stifled mirth at what they seemed to perceive as a “humorous incident.”

I’ve seen this before at Wimbledon, and I’m not sure if it a sign of the fairly simplistic sense of humour of the average Wimbledon attendee, or if that nervous giggle is the only decent release of the enormous and obvious sexual tension that pervades the court. If it wasn’t for this poor line judge and his emergency manoeuvres, I think the whole stadium would descend into an angry guilt-ridden orgy by the end of the third set.

To be honest, the humour bar is pretty low on Centre Court. What ranks as humour at Wimbledon makes The 40 Year Old Virgin look sophisticated and nuanced.

When I was a kid they would always show us the veterans' match between Jimmy Connors and Ilie Nastase. Handing over with barely controlled mirth, David Vine would chortle something about them being characters and that we should expect "fun and games." Inevitably this meant Nastase touching up a dog-ugly line judge, and Connors jumping over the net, to which the crowd would erupt into paroxysms of belly laughs.

While we’re on the subject of Centre Court oddities, why are there uniformed soldiers, sailors and airmen dotted around the place? It’s hard to say exactly what they are doing but they appear to be performing some sort of usher duties. Coincidentally, today they had one of the seven black soldiers in the British Army there while the cameras were turning! But surely we have more pressing duties for our Armed Forces than guiding people to the strawberry stalls. I know it’s not exactly Trident in the scheme of things, but I’m not sure this a good use of our defence spending.

Maybe we could leave it to the Chelsea Pensioners in the front row to do the ushering. About time they earned their pension.

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