Dom Joly: Anyone for Greco-Roman wrestling?

Weird World of Sport: I started to worry I'd see my name in the papers as a waste of the licence fee

Share
Related Topics

I'm covering Wimbledon for Five Live – it's just about the most agreeable assignment that I've ever had. I turned up last Thursday for my first day and it took me a little time to adjust. Twenty-four hours earlier I'd been in North Korea, where tennis is not really that big a thing. They're more into mass public displays of tae kwan do, using thousands of rather frightening-looking soldiers. Wimbledon, on a sunny day, was about as polar opposite to smoggy Pyongyang as was possible.

The first thing that hits you about the place is just what a maze it is. Quite apart from the public spaces there are loads of rat runs, hidden alleys and buildings bustling with journalists that you would not normally see. I kept getting very lost as I was ferried from watching matches to trying to find Scottish people on Murray Mount. I'm still not sure if it has officially become Murray Mount, or Murray Mountain, or whether the defenders of Henman Hill have managed to defend their peak. Certainly, when I was there on the day of a Murray match there weren't too many Scots. I think that if Murray does manage to win, he will certainly claim it as his. Who knows? It could even become a new Munro, an extra hill true Scotsmen have to climb.

I was thrown straight in at the deep end and squeezed into the tiny commentary booth on Centre Court. Simon Mayo was hosting his show along with two tennis commentators. With my arrival the box was starting to feel very full – there was certainly no room to swing the proverbial cat. I scanned the crowd – to my left was the obligatory group of tipsy Australians, decked out in yellow and looking very much like they'd turned up to the wrong event. During a break in proceedings they started a hesitant Mexican wave. They got it going, but it doesn't really fit Centre Court and is more of an excuse to boo the dignitaries in the royal box when they sit stiffly ignoring proceedings. Everyone in the royal box had been given a free Wimbledon panama hat that made them stand out even more from the hoi polloi.

The last straw was when the new roof was used for the first time. Not to cover the court but it was closed by a metre or so to provide shade for the pampered guests. I scoured the box for BBC executives but they were all keeping their heads down and had stayed away. How they must have quietly jumped for joy when the news of Michael Jackson's demise came down the wires. I expect to see many more of them this week.

Back in our sweaty box, Simon Mayo turned to me: "So, Dom, what do you make of the game so far?" I love tennis and have watched it since I was a little kid, but it's different when you have to sound knowledgeable live to the nation. "Uuummm, well, it's a good game ... both look like ... good tennis players but ... one is definitely looking better than the other ... the short one ... with the cap..." It was not an auspicious start and I started to worry that I'd see my name in the papers soon as a definite waste of licence-fee payers' money. I tried to think hard what I could say next time the microphone was passed to me. All I could think about was the curious pattern on the back of an Argentinian player's shirt, barely visible dots that made him look like he was undergoing one of those allergy tests where they stick loads of plasters on your back. I couldn't talk about that – think of something technical, quick...

"Dom, what's on your mind?" Nothing was the honest answer, but I found myself talking about how one player had his baseball cap on the wrong way round while the other had a sleeveless shirt that I found offensive. What was happening? Not only was I starting to sound like a middle-aged fogey but I was turning into the equivalent of the fashion correspondent at Ascot. This commentary lark was not nearly as easy as you might imagine. It was with some relief I was released to go on to the roof to appear on Michael Stich's programme. He had no idea who I was and asked me how I relaxed when not competing? "Greco-Roman wrestling" I replied for no reason whatsoever. Things can only get better.

World catches on to Murray's crazy racket

I'm glad that the tabloids have finally caught up with my Andy Murray Tweet Watch and appreciate his love of the forfeit. This week, however, he's moved on to trying to think of tennis players' names that can be turned into food – "Cod Woodbridge" and "John McEnrolo". It's a crazy world, the world of tennis.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: The sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
A protestor poses for a  

Ferguson verdict: This isn't a 'tragedy'. This is part of a long-running genocide of black men in America

Otamere Guobadia
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital