Our texts were gobbledegook, such was the state of excitement between us. ‘Just put of that match think you need Gate 1 I’m wondering so txt when you near I will come’ beeped my phone.
Wimbledon! For the first time in years for me and as many for Foxy.
I hurried down the time honoured route from Southfields Underground Station passing a lengthy queue and the greenery of the height of summer: Horse chestnut trees hanging, deep green in a sultry fashion verging on languorous; Buddleia, full purple with that sweet scent that reminds you of honey…and Red Admiral butterflies.
A few obligatory snaps and an outside court game later, we were in watching the match of the day. ‘It doesn’t look that busy in here, that’s for sure” I said to Foxy, already talking like McEnroe and looking towards the commentary box in Centre Court.
A warm breeze drifted through carrying the odd conversation with it – magnified within this oval shaped ‘vessel’ that, despite its size, creates intimacy and strangeness at the same time. From some rows back came: “Come on Radek! Have a banana! That’s what Tim used to do.”
I looked up to see a summer scudding sky encircled by the architectural roof – so surreal that I wondered if I was really there.
Eventually the light started to fade and it was time to leave this most unique place.
I walked past lush hedges and hanging baskets of purple and white blooms – on a final mission now to get a photo of the star commentator. Memories of watching him and his counterparts play back in the day always flood back at this time of year; meeting him was the only thing I could think of that would be the icing on today’s cake.
Terry at the Press Centre gave me a cola and a tip: “He’s into the football – comes out here after the broadcast and checks the scores on the screen. Keep looking up at the balcony – if he decides to come down, I’ll take the photo.”
My hopes were high but it was not to be. No sooner was his stint with Ms Austin finished on TV than I discovered he’d left through another exit. “You may not have recognised him anyway – he usually wears a hat and dark glasses” I was told.
Never mind. I sent him a tweet, contenting myself with the thought that just maybe somewhere, he was sitting with a glass of lemonade, checking his phone, and reading it. It’s a possibility – let’s be honest.