Susie Rushton: Like rosé wine, tennis is best served in daylight

Urban Notebook
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The Independent Online

Each December, the crinkly old tennis aces of yesteryear take over the Royal Albert Hall for the London stage of a "masters tour", which is basically a leisurely knock-up with jokes. On paper, it's something I would really enjoy. But this week I discovered that tennis, like rosé wine and yellow clothes, is best appreciated during daylight hours. I'm too grouchy in the evening to fully enjoy a beautiful sliced backhand. I start wanting dinner, or bed.

We found our seats in time for the first match at 7.30pm, which – despite their advanced age and the limit of just two sets – Cedric Pioline and Pat Cash managed to keep going for 90 minutes. By 10pm, trickshot king Mansour Bahrami was barely halfway through his rendition of comedy serves (you had to be there) when spectators began to shuffle out to catch their trains back to the Home Counties. During the final match, now running well after 11pm, Henri Leconte interrupted play to wave off audience members who tried to creep toward the exit in between points.

It was just at this moment that the two French people seated in front of us got up and moved closer to the court. Not a minute too soon; from the moment we had sat down, in a hushed auditorium, they had whooped every point won by a Frenchman. Any Frenchman. "Allez!" they yelled, whenever Pioline or Leconte called a correct challenge or scooped up an unlikely return. An older English man with a red face sitting behind me started muttering something in French at the rowdy group, and I feared we might be caught up in an international incident. "What's wrong with these guys?" I huffed to my boyfriend, who had been too glued to the game to be distracted by anything. Relax, he hissed. "That little French boy is about EIGHT." Well, exactly. It was way past his bedtime, and mine.

Strewth, that's a big house

Australia has taken over from the US as the country with the biggest homes in the world, with the average Aussie house a colossal 215 square metres. According to the study commissioned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, in Britain we squeeze into an average 76 square metres of living space. 76! I dream of 76. My sorry search for a flat to buy in London rarely turns up anything beyond 60sqm. As wine cellars and garden bunkers are all the rage, I'm wondering whether the solution is to buy a ground-floor flat and burrow downwards. Who knows, maybe I'll pop out the other side and find myself in a Melbourne mansion?

Au revoir Lacroix

So long, at least for now, to the work of wonderful fashion designer Christian Lacroix, who has closed his Paris salon, leaving just a shell of fragrance licence agreements to carry his name. Molten gold jewellery, hot colours splashed on his signature puffball skirts – this man from Arles in Provence has given French fashion some of its most original moments. Too original, perhaps. A Lacroix dress often made its wearer look a few bananas short of a fruitbowl, in a truly brilliant way.

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