SW19 Diary: 'Elf and safety leaves Wimbledon unwell

It probably breaks their own regulations, but the Health and Safety Executive has gone to war with Wimbledon. As the rain tumbled down, its chief executive opened hostilities yesterday morning only to be greeted with a withering return of fire from the All England Club. By the time the clouds had cleared, they had cleared the HSE's tanks off their lawns.

The dispute revolves around the decision not to show Andy Murray's first-round match on the big screen on Henman Hill/Murray Mound/the slopey bit of SW19 (take your pick) during the rain on Monday evening on safety grounds. Some newspapers leapt on the "Elf and Safety"-bashing bandwagon which sparked yesterday's salvo from Judith Hackitt of the HSE. Hackitt wrote to Ian Ritchie, her counter-part at Wimbledon: "People have been walking up and down wet grassy slopes for years without catastrophic consequences. If the LTA was concerned about people slipping and suing for their injuries the message should have made clear the decision was 'on insurance grounds'. Health and safety excuses are becoming as much a feature of the British sporting calendar as the rain. You will understand that while we can do nothing about the weather, we will not let the excuses pass unchallenged."

Back came Wimbledon. "It must be entirely inappropriate," fumed Ritchie, "for the chairman of the HSE to make such public comments on decisions reached at an event when you have absolutely no knowledge of the circumstances... To use your own phrase I could not let your ill-informed comments 'pass unchallenged'."

Ooh arr, ooh hey! Roddick starts to dig The Wurzels

Attempts to complete Andy Roddick's conversion to The Wurzels are gathering pace. The American mentioned in the wake of his victory over Andreas Beck on Tuesday that he had stumbled across the "Combine Harvester" song on YouTube (how?) and could not get it out of his head. Yesterday The Wurzels rang the Wimbledon office – not all at once obviously. A collection of CDs is now on its way to Roddick.

Aussie roofer lives it up

There was a most deserving guest in the Royal Box on Centre Court yesterday, and we're not talking Bruce Forsyth. No, it was Rod Sheard, the man who designed the roof over the court. Sheard, an Australian, is also responsible for some of our top football grounds: The Emirates, the Reebok and Wembley.

McEnroe outs himself as a cricket fan

After Tuesday's visit of England's cricketers, yesterday revealed an improbable fan of this country's other summer sport. John McEnroe (by the way, the best TV pundit on any sport) used to be a regular watcher of the game during his playing trips to Wimbledon in the '80s (no doubt during the rain breaks). His favourite player was Viv Richards, whom he described as the "Rod Laver of cricket", while he also had an unsurprising soft spot for Ian Botham. And just to show he absolutely knew what he was talking about he chucked in a mention of "Gower, the leftie".

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent