In London today I passed a pub with a sign outside reading FOOTBALL-FREE ZONE. Intrigued at the possibility that this might be a refuge for sufferers from World Cup Fatique, where one was forbidden from thinking, discussing or even playing, football, I entered. In fact, it was a bar that didn’t have a TV set. (And you know what? It was packed.)
Tim Henman is out of Wimbledon - and it's only day two. A bit tough to find yourself – in the second round - up against the world champion; winner of the last two Wimbledon championships; who has won his last 42 matches on grass. They did a vox pop around the people on ‘Henman Hill’ afterwards and poor Tim was universally written off as not being quick/young/hungry/good enough. Well no, it was not entirely universal: one voice – an American one – pointed out that this guy had given immense pleasure as a top class player for ten years. ‘Trouble is’, he said, ‘you don’t know what you had till it’s gone’. (Might make a good song title.)
In response to many comments – well, one – on a recent post, I thought I might do another cemetery thing. The main reason is that Friday is the nintieth anniversary of the beginning of the battle of the Somme in World War I. The objective originally was to distract the Germans to relieve the pressure on the French at Verdun, but, typical of most WWI battles, it was a monumental screw-up, and equally typically it was the poor Tommies that took the shit. They were sent over the top to occupy German trenches that they were told would be empty – but weren’t. But they went over anyway, into a wall of machine-gun and mortar fire, and 20,000 of them were killed on day one. They kept marching and dying until November, when it was decided that they didn’t need to distract the Germans any more and the battle was called off.
I haven’t been to all the cemeteries yet - there are more than 200 of them. You don't know what you had till it's gone.