Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Tennis and the tragic gnome

The All England Lawn Tennis Club has just completed a very successful Wimbledon tournament on some thick and healthy looking (but gnome-free) grass this season. And as a valiant Andy Murray is just edged out of being the first Brit to win the title for a thousand years by a majestic Roger Federer, one wonders again at how much of a factor the weather was. The Wimbledon organisers closed the roof, Federer could perform better as indoor conditions suit him, and Murray was seen off by the best player on the day.

Of course, Federer is perhaps the finest tennis player ever to have lived, so Murray's task was always an uphill struggle. But the point is that, once again, our mad 2012 weather here in London has had a major influence, in Murray's case necessitating the closure of the roof.

I am wondering if this all risks becoming a weather blog. I had no intention of that being my theme when I started out, but being a Brit, I am genetically predisposed to it. And us Brits have had much to discuss. There have been multiple hundreds of flood warnings around the UK. But, being the middle of summer, when the sun pops its face out from behind the clouds for any length of time, the air temperature in London rockets. This means you can quickly be too cold or too warm on an almost minute by minute basis. Also, as I previously described, Britain's wild plants are having a merry old time of it with the continuous rain and random sunny moments causing any untended green space to become thickly lush and verdant. It can be suddenly humid and I have been reminded of steaming tropical forest places simply by walking to work. The effect is compounded by the numerous parrots which now inhabit every corner of the capital. Olympic visitors from tropical nations are going to feel right at home here.

Wimbledon is not too far from Chez Siddie, and is enjoying a similar climate. The difference is, I suppose, a professional ground staff. Elsewhere, the overgrown gardens are this year's truly spectacular sight. I was slightly concerned it was just me, but clearly hardworking families everywhere are struggling to find time to fit in a spot of lawn mowing during the rain-sodden weekends. The front of our house is like a jungle exercise area used for military training, fully equipped with some genuine hazards such as bumblebees the size of barrage balloons. I saw a monster moth called a Red Underwing land in my garden like a Harrier Jump Jet, and even the occasional frog which turns up in my back yard is starting to look menacingly large. Has it eaten one of the neighbour's cats?

My lawn is also lush and green like that at Wimbledon, but that's where the similarities end. A tennis ball in my grass would simply be lost, with only the dandelions and daisies knowing its secret location. Things couldn't go on like this, so I bit the bullet, climbed into my gardening trousers, and launched into the undergrowth with my electric trimmer thingy (which I found after hacking my way to the garden shed with a machete).

It wasn't easy. Sweat oozed from every pore and my rippling musculature (moobs, if you prefer) with its glossy sheen must have been a sight to behold. Eventually I chanced upon the corner where one solitary garden gnome sits, waiting patiently for that big sweaty bloke to occasionally cut the grass. Of course, I couldn't see him through the undergrowth, and WHACK! I caught him squarely across the head with a burst-the-strings backhand that I'm sure would have sat agreeably with either Mr Federer or Mr Murray.

But where had the top of his hat gone? Smashed to smithereens, beyond repair. And thus, albeit indirectly, the bad weather claimed another innocent victim. There are only losers in this rain game. If Murray can blame the rain (and I don't recall reading anywhere that he did, but let's just imagine he thought it for a while), so can I.

How am I going to explain this to my lovely wife? I'm in a bit of trouble now, so would you mind keeping this just between us? Thanks. Let's hope she doesn't notice otherwise I fear being on the wrong end of a forehand smash. Ouch. New balls, please.

Gnome, by Siddie Nam
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

See the gnome in full size on Flickr, along with more of Siddie's images.


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