Nothing is more symbolic of summer in Britain than the start of the Championships at the All England Club in Wimbledon. Despite the knowledge that past events have, at times, been hampered by rain––resulting in match delays and the scenes of ball-boys trapped under tarpaulins and Cliff Richard singing in the stands––I always picture the tennis at Wimbledon bathed in bright sunshine, particularly on the opening day with all its sunny optimism, before the first British player is knocked out. Perhaps my memories are also coloured by the time I visited Wimbledon myself. How many years ago? Too many to admit to, although I will say that it was while Annabel Croft was still playing and before she starting presenting Interceptor.
It was a glorious summer day; perfect blue skies; cloudless and haze-free. A day for wide-brimmed sun-hats; inappropriately skimpy outfits; and bright red, happy, sweaty faces. The smell of cheap suntan lotion mixed freely with the slow-moving traffic pollution to create a heady mix of summer in the city.
The friend I went with hit the Pimm’s early and hit it hard. And the strawberries and cream. Strawbmageddon. We watched a match on one of the outside courts––might have been Annabel; might not; I can’t remember––the full blaze of the midday sun beating down on our unprotected heads.
We contemplated the order of play for the day; planned our itinerary. Thought better of it. Had some more Pimm’s. Some more strawberries and cream. Some more Pimm’s. Pimm’s-a-go-go. All the time the sun shone brightly from a cloudless SW19 heaven.
We decided we’d gate-crash a show court; get the full Wimbledon experience. We gained access to a high tier in #1 Court; climbed the stairs, higher and higher; ever upwards towards the brilliant sun; Icarus and Daedalus waiting for the fall.
As it happened, it was my friend who was Icarus. I was behind her when I saw her wobble; saw her topple; saw her buckle. The combined effects of Pimm’s and sun had been too much for her.
We spent most of our Wimbledon afternoon in the St John Ambulance tent.
We were by no means the only ones.
© Beery Sue
If asked, Beery Sue denies ever being drunk at Wimbledon.