Wimbledon 97: With all this, who needs tennis?

Richard Edmondson identifies the 20 best ways of passing the time at Wimbledon when it rains
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The Independent Online
Twenty things to do when it rains at Wimbledon:

1 Get wet.

2 Start compiling lists.

3 Go for a sherbet (at the bon-bon stall). Heap a bag full of sweets and assorted confectionery. Enjoy some of the players' favourites such as Devon toffee (Karen Cross), peanut crackle (Jeff Tarango) and mini Mars (Venus Williams).

4 Thank your friends in the office for coming up with original feature ideas.

5 Get an Independent plastic cape, the superior, thinking spectator's garment, available exclusively to those who purchase a copy of Britain's favourite newspaper in the SW19 environs. Only while stocks and the rain last.

6a Grab a mid-morning snack. Try a prawn and mayonnaise baguette at pounds 3.75, traditional lemonade at a rather untraditional pounds 1.70 and strawberries and cream from a polystyrene punnet. At pounds 1.85 a shot this values each individual strawberry as a jewel at about 18.5p each.

6b Go to the on-site Barclays bank.

7 Consider that it could be worse. In 1991, only 52 of the 240 scheduled matches had been completed after the first four days. The Monday was washed out and just 50 minutes play was possible on the Wednesday.

8 Consult your programme and identify the future careers of this fortnight's participants. The easier ones are: Claire Taylor (GB), Patrick Rafter (Aus), Scott Draper (Aus), Jim Courier (US), Marcelo Charpentier (Arg) and Mandy Wainwright (GB).

9 Participate in the rich history of The Championships and take home a relic of style and substance. Specially minted cigarette lighters, coasters and frisbees are available from the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum Shop.

10 Have your correspondence imprinted with an official stamp at the Wimbledon Post Office.

11 Consult your programme and indentify the cars and automobile parts associated with this fortnight's participants. The easier ones are: Luke and Murphy Jensen (US), Leizel Horn (SA), Bernardo Mota (Por), Wayne Ferreira (SA) and Petra Langrova (Cz Rep).

12 Take an alfresco seat on the outside courts and watch the plastic bubbles wobbling gently in the watery wind (surprisingly popular).

13 Something for the mid-week. Patrol the All-England chemists shop and wonder at the untouched rows of sunburn lotion stocked hopefully down the whole side of one wall.

14a Join the queue at the Wingfield Restaurant in the new Court One complex for a spot to eat. Tuck your napkin in for the luncheon at pounds 26.75, which includes the Wingfield Salad (an infusion of crisp leaves with bacon lardons etc), or go for the seafood alternative at pounds 52.95.

14b Return to Barclays.

15 Alternatively, avoid the queues and attend Loseley's ice cream kiosk for an Acacia honey and stem ginger tub, an explosion on the palate and not in the pocket.

16 Consult your programme and identify the places identified with this fortnight's participants. The easier ones are: Grant Stafford (SA), Francisco Montana (US), Lindsay Davenport (US), Miss R Grande (It), and MaliVai Washington (US, absent injured but an integral part of Wimbledon for these purposes).

17 Descend into the grotto of another emporium, the Wimbledon Shop. Invest in a delightful pottery figurine for your grandmother or purchase bag- ruining merchandise such as the logo-ed combs, wallets and key-rings.

18 Line up to buy a phone card and then line up to use the public phone. Ring your friends and family and tell them what a great time you are having as the rain beats on the window.

19 Go to the pressbox with a skip-full of ideas and come to the rescue of hordes of distressed journalists from around the globe operating at the nadir of originality.

20 Prepare another list for the following day.

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