* 200 articles. Two years. Whelk. The best of Upsideclown. Might be reprinted.

Back (back) and forth (and forth)

19 June 2003
Victor has sunstroke

The Samsung Open, Nottingham, UK, 17th June 2003. Our very own British- Canadian Greg Rusedski plays Jarkko Niemenen of Finland. I am an honorary Finn for the day.

Fashion is a non-issue here. Bottom drawers have been rifled for sporting detritus: England football shirts and Union Jacks - how are they even remotely appropriate, unless a highly self-conscious statement is being made about British colonialism? (didn't think so). And those dreadful velveteen jesters hats worn at rugby matches, doubtless harking back to a particular medieval association of the sport with the fool's brand of social criticism of which I have hitherto been unaware. Otherwise it's a sea of cricket hats and those over-glasses which look like laboratory goggles - except for the one Bohemian woman at the south end who has imaginatively chosen to sport a pointy Ching Chong Chinaman hat (with her laboratory goggles). Mind you, I'm in no position to mock. Today, Matthew, I am a cross between Private Benjamin and a Magyar in her Sunday best - the Cheeky Girls' stouter cousin on a night out.

Tagged on to the main tournament is a week of coaching for kids. Every ten minutes or so during the match the most godawful collective scream is heard - there must be about fifty of them. Off-putting for the players, I'm sure. I console myself with the fact that there is probably a game of What's the time, Mr Wolf? - but with a tennis theme - going on somewhere on one of the smaller courts. But I cannot quite shake the fear that Cliff Richard and Sue Barker are attempting to instruct the youngsters in the delights of "special kisses".

Sitting here in the sunshine I finally admit to myself that I just don't get it. It's not even really about the back and forth thing - I like badminton, after all. But in tennis the ball is allowed to bounce, a rule which goes against all my childhood sensibilities. Badminton, at least, makes sense in the world of one trained to identify a dropped ball as a failure. When played properly - without rules or lines and in your back garden with a set from Woolworth's - it is just one big game of keepy-uppy - which can only engender feelings of joy and success amongst its participants. Dejection, on the other hand, is an essential constituent of tennis.

This is the first top flight tennis match I've been to. My only contact with the sport - other than as an excuse at school for a session of heavy petting (a phrase which really does deserve to be used in contexts other than prohibition notices in local swimming pools) - is in the "lame duck" time post-GCSEs, A-Levels, Finals, dissertation submission into which Wimbledon conveniently falls. Regaining my strength, drinking tea, wondering why on earth I'm not making the most of the weather or dreaming about the luxury items on which I will spend my birthday money, I stare through the television, with a glimmer only for the tall Croatian war crimes suspect or the strawberry-blonde ginger who loves Afro-Caribbean women in cupboards. So in a derivative 9/11 way which irks me, I find that I'm unable to watch the "live" Rusedski-Niemenen match as anything but televised. I feel perfectly entitled to get up and put the kettle on, turn the sound down and dance around to "Off the Wall", ring and text my mates with obvious remarks about the weather and the apparent quality of play, nod off for a bit, and react in my own special and almost witty way. I, at least, am not at all surprised when I rise to my feet, point at the taller gentleman on court and shout, "Hey, Greg! Why the long face?"


This is the fucking archive

Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
23 October 2003. Matt writes: Topology
2 October 2003. Matt writes: Haunted
8 September 2003. Matt writes: The Gardener's Diary
21 August 2003. Matt writes: The Starling Variable
31 July 2003. Matt writes: Two stories
14 July 2003. Matt writes: What is real?
23 June 2003. Matt writes: Mapping and journeys
29 May 2003. Matt writes: Extelligence
5 May 2003. Matt writes: Religious experiences
17 April 2003. Matt writes: Seeing the Light
27 March 2003. Matt writes: Flowering
10 March 2003. Matt writes: Climax state
10 February 2003. Matt writes: The Role of Cooperation in Human Interaction
20 January 2003. Matt writes: The same old subroutine
2 January 2003. Matt writes: New beginnings
9 December 2002. Matt writes: Packet Loss
18 November 2002. Matt writes: Wonderland
31 October 2002. Matt writes: Having and losing
10 October 2002. Matt writes: Trees of Knowledge
19 September 2002. Matt writes: The online life of bigplaty47
29 August 2002. Matt writes: Divorce
8 August 2002. Matt writes: How to get exactly what you want
18 July 2002. Matt writes: Eleven Graceland endings
27 June 2002. Matt writes: Listopad, Prague 1989
3 June 2002. Matt writes: Engram bullets
6 May 2002. Matt writes: Sound advice
15 April 2002. Matt writes: How it all works: Cars
21 March 2002. Matt writes: Proceeding to the next stage
25 February 2002. Matt writes: Spam quartet
31 January 2002. Matt writes: Person to person
7 January 2002. Matt writes: All for the best
13 December 2001. Matt writes: Life
19 November 2001. Matt writes: Giving is better than receiving
25 October 2001. Matt writes: Ludo
1 October 2001. Matt writes: Gifts, contracts, and whispers
6 September 2001. Matt writes: The world is ending
13 August 2001. Matt writes: The Church of Mrs Bins
16 July 2001. Matt writes: Things I Don't Have
25 June 2001. Matt writes: Fighting the Good Fight
31 May 2001. Matt writes: Code dependency
7 May 2001. Matt writes: Up The Arse, Or Not At All
5 April 2001. Matt writes: The increasing nonlinearity of time
19 March 2001. Matt writes: Hit Me Baby, One More Time
22 February 2001. Matt writes: Space, Matter, Cities, Sausages
29 January 2001. Matt writes: Truth in Advertising
1 January 2001. Matt writes: Six predictions for tomorrow
7 December 2000. Matt writes: You must reach this line to ride
16 November 2000. Matt writes: The truth about the leopard
23 October 2000. Matt writes: Shopping mauls
28 September 2000. Matt writes: Heavy traffic on the road to Utopia
4 September 2000. Matt writes: Sixty worlds a minute
17 July 2000. Matt writes: You, Me, and Face-space

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