Middle-class problems: Booking a tennis court

No 114

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The Independent Online

Serve. Ha-hunh. Forehand. Hunh. Backhand. More of a slice that, so no need for the overt exhalation. Overhead smash. Hunh. Played him beautifully round the court, so now just a passing forehand down the line. Aaaand… point. Nice.

There's nothing quite like swinging a racket around while walking to the park to make you feel good about your game. And of course visualising is vital to getting your head in the right place. Never mind the stares.

Everyone knows there's no point trying to play during Wimbledon: every Tom, Dick and Harriet goes SW19 crazy, even if the local courts are gravel on concrete rather than pristine blades. But now it's over, this is the time, this is our moment…

This is ridiculous. No, we didn't call ahead. We thought we'd just be able to get one. No, we don't want to wait two hours, thanks, because we really don't want to play at 10pm when the midges will bite us to death. What are those two doing, anyway? Those two over there: they're not even playing properly. I'll play them for it, winner stays on.

No, you're right, absolutely, good for the game that new people start playing. And, yes, they do have just as much right…

And so, muttering, we slink off, cutting subtler swathes through the air with our rackets, recalling the shots that might have been, magnificent efforts that skim the tramlines and are always in – no disputes to be had.

Actually, this might be the best way to play tonight. After all, we wouldn't want a post-match drink if we were all sweaty, would we?