Although this poem was written at the end of February almost 20 years ago, when we were due to visit our friends, Chris and Margaret, in West Sussex, it seems timely to give it an airing today as we are half way through the annual grass courts, new balls and strawberries extravaganza. For Wade (Virginia) read Cash (Pat) and for Des Lynam read McEnroe.
Anyone for Tennyson (de la Mare, Keats, Hardy, Browning….) ?
Wimbledon fortnight’s halfway through.
You shift uneasily in your chair.
You sip and savour your homemade brew,
Mull over the puzzle why we’re not there.
No cautious tap at the window pane ;
No knock at the door at the midnight hour ;
No muffled whisper pierces the rain
As squall is followed by shower.
But you suddenly think of a call at the door,
Too soft, and you lift your head :-
“Did they come and no one answered,
Did they keep their word ?” you said.
Or what unveiled a night-time drama,
A stone or nail caused tyre to ping
And in the blizzard made you brake ?
– Yet no ’phones ring !
The covers are on. The grass grows lush.
The ball girls in bed are relaxing,
Counting pigeons regaling the hush,
Which Barker and Wade find so taxing.
For this is the weather Des Lynam shuns
And so do we.
Spectators drip in browns and duns.
They’ve paid their fee.
No cannon-ball serves, or volleys that thunder,
Or drops exquisite tear rally asunder,
Making the gallant crowd cry out in wonder,
Are seen. Why didn’t the weathermen blunder ?
Oh, to see All England
As June becomes July,
And whoever’s at All England
Sees great tennis – when it’s dry ! –
From the outer courts and the lowest seeds
To Centre Court with its different breeds
And, when rain permits, the royal bow
In All England – now !