Wimbledon Diary: Forget the pigeons, take aim at the car park charity pests

Nick Harris
Friday 04 July 2008 00:00

The Diary was once shot in the ankle with an airgun pellet, and while it did sting a bit, it wasn't serious. Now is not the time to go into the details of the incident but the situation involved a Catholic priest, a big dog with scary teeth and the front yard of a presbytery in Kisumu in western Kenya, at night.

The point is that an airgun pellet, believe us, needn't be that dangerous, but it can be a deterrent.

So now that the Wimbledon marksmen are no longer shooting pigeons ("Even though they're still swooping on Centre Court," fan Rachel Turner assures us), might we suggest that the shooting boys are sent to Car Park 10 instead to pop a few warning shots?

The £25-a-day parking fee is bad enough. But the mob-handed charity ticket sellers who have both doors covered as soon as any car stops are a pest. We are as keen on saving the children as the next diary. But this just isn't the kind of genteel behaviour expected of the world's best-organised sporting event.

Set your watches by the weather prophets of SW19

The Diary is mightily impressed with Wimbledon's ability to predict the weather in a country where it is a notoriously tricky business, as Michael Fish will attest. At the start of the day on Wednesday the word from Wimbledon was that Roger Federer's match with Marat Safin would not get on court until 4pm, which is almost exactly when it began. Uncanny. And during yesterday's rain-hit women's semi-finals the predictions were equally accurate, with forecasts suggesting rain would stop within five minutes and the sun would come out. And lo and behold. Bingo. Clouds clear, sun shines. Maybe someone within Wimbledon HQ has a hotline to the Big Man?

Also, the All England Club should be congratulated on the way the lines of communication are kept open with the punters who are advised, via the many Tannoys, when the covers are coming off and when play is to resume. Hats off. Maybe the world of cricket could borrow a leaf? You can often sit at Lord's with a tiny puddle at deep-square leg keeping the players in the pavilion, and the public in the dark.

Gurkhas – smart, effective, highly motivated and courteous

The Diary asked a few days ago whether it was the Gurkhas' warrior mentality that made them ideal to guard car park No4 at Wimbledon. John Whitwam, the managing director of G4S Gurkha Services Division (which supplies the staff, all ex-Army Gurkhas) rang yesterday to tell us: "Yes, but it's not only that. They're always effective, highly motivated, smart and courteous." G4S also supply Gurkhas to guard the UK's Critical National Infrastructure, including power stations. Fascinating.

Robson looking good to recreate Wonder Years on court for Britain

An eagle-eyed colleague has pointed out to The Diary that Britain's new junior tennis heroine, Laura Robson, 14, is the spitting image of the actress Danica McKellar, who famously played Gwendolyn "Winnie" Cooper, the love interest of main character, Kevin, in one of the biggest TV hits of the late '80s and early '90s. We can only hope that Laura's great progress here is the beginning of her own "Wonder Years".

Mad on the Mound

With no more Centre Court tickets available to overnight queuers until the end of the tournament, our daily fan feature switches to focus on an early arrival each day on Murray Mound.

Name: Sharon Ashton.

From: Shropshire.

Age: 50.

Occupation: Practice nurse.

Arrived on the mound: 12.30pm.

Who are you here to see? We're going on No 1 Court later.

Why? Because those are the tickets we got. We'd rather have been here for Nadal-Murray.

What's the best hill you've ever sat on? It's in Rome, the Capitoline Hill. We had a lovely picnic there last Spring.

Today's random question – did you see Murray lose to Nadal and have you ever seen such a spanking? I saw it on TV. It wasn't the biggest spanking. Murray will have learnt a lot of lessons. Nadal was sublime and he'll beat Federer.

If the All England Club served a pigeon that has been slaughtered at The Championships, would you eat it, if it was prepared nicely, perhaps roasted and dished up with scrummy seasonal veg? If they told me the source, no. But I had a friend at university who killed a pigeon on his windowsill. He made it into curry and that tasted nice.

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