You should know by now that I have four brothers. I had to like sports, all sports, or not survive my childhood.
As family lore goes, I never sang the mournful tune of Baa Baa Black Sheep.. I was only ever to be found singing anti Tottenham football chants. That’s right. My brothers (aka The Boys) taught me how to sing. And what to sing. I was 18 before I realised that “I’m forever blowing bubbles” did not contain the words “fly so high, they reach the sky, and like West Ham they fade and die… “It was only natural, with four burly big boys; I’d grow up to be the 5 stone weakling. But sport I had to love.
By the time I was 5 I could tackle, 6 could hack the legs out from under a grown man, at 8 I realised that my elbows were the perfect height to.. well.. shall we just say *family jewels?* I was the only 9 year old girl I knew who could recite the offside rule word perfect.
I loved to play football, tennis, table tennis, cricket, rounders.. the list goes on. The one game I could not play, was rugby. I was simply too small. I may have been fast, but the clumsy gene kicked in when I was 9 and no matter how hard I tried, I kept falling over my own feet.
Where am I going with this? Well it seems somewhat seasonal, we’re currently being inundated with tennis, cricket and the Olympics will be upon us before we know it. Messing with TV schedules.
Normally, this time of year, I would be glued to the Tennis. Tiger Tim and his *winning* ways. Many the nights G would come home from school, and find me sat at the kitchen table, rigid, fingers locked in a praying pose, one hand holding onto the “England 5 Germany 1” mug for luck. (Thumb on England, little finger twisted to touch the one) I was absolutely convinced that if I sat still long enough, missed every second breath, got my fingers in perfect position on the mug, I’d be lucky for Hapless Tim. G would speak.. and the only response, muttered without taking my eyes from the screen.. “ Not now love, he’s about to double fault. Come on. Help him. Chant. C’mon Tim C’mon Tim. NO. Not out loud, under
your breath. Georgia. Now, you see? You didn’t do it and now he lost his serve. Oh go get changed.”
Poor child, she had to put up with that 2 weeks a year. Every year. (Or if she was lucky he would be out before the Middle Weekend.. only the once, thank God)
Wimbledon just isn’t the same this year. Andy Murray seems.. I don’t know.. far too eager to win. It’s unseemly. All that arm pumping and primal screaming.
Remember good old Goran? And his asking for his *lucky* ball back every time he won a point? Oh yes, the year Tim won the third
set 0-6 and everyone KNEW it was his year. And then the rains came. And he lost. As usual. But we didn’t mind because that nice fella Goran was so nice about it. He didn’t crow. A little fall to the floor in grateful thanks. (Oh yes, that was also the year my brother gave my nephew a McDonalds Birthday party.. DURING the semi final. I sat outside in the car park and compulsively tapped my feet)
Who won’t admit to mouthing doublefault doublefault doublefault every time Tim’s opponent went to serve?
But not this year, the best I can pray for is that he doesn’t stumble over his words whilst commentating. *sigh*
And then football.. I’m the same with the dreaded Penalty Shoot Out. If I don’t look, I KNOW they will score. If my left leg is numb from sitting on it, they will score. They won’t fall over like a bunch of pansies and writhe in pretend agony. They won’t go back to the long ball game that they were always so bad at. They won’t lose. But they always do. I haven’t found the perfect position to sit in yet, but when I do.. watch out world.. here comes England.
And finally.. the cricket. The Ashes nearly killed me. I was pregnant with Lal, and sitting still for up to 8 hours a day wasn’t fun. It had to be done. How I cheered when Glenn McGrath tripped over a ball during warm up, how I cried when Freddie lost his bowling line.. I wrote endless lists computing how many runs we need to get.. the penultimate Test, when it really mattered, I prayed harder than I ever have. I *think* I may have
promised God that I’d name my child after every single English cricketer on the pitch. I had my fingers crossed though.. so it doesn’t count, surely? Maybe that’s why we lost in Australia?
I sit, and I WILL them to win. Sure in the knowledge that when they do, life will be somehow rosier, somehow brighter… a nation united. It worked with the cricket..
But for now, I shall continue to be true to Tiger Tim, and Henman Hill. None of this Murray Mound for me (it sounds like a disease) I just can’t get behind that boy, no matter how British, he seems
thuggish to me.. (although British and Thuggish go hand in hand these days,especially if you read the Daily Mail)
I’m sure, somewhere on Court Number One, late at night, you can still hear the call “Come ON Tim. You can do it. Just hit the ball. “ And then the sigh as he fluffs it and goes out on a double fault.