So it’s the final day of Wimbledon.
For people like me, who like watching quality tennis, it is a good day. Two athletes – a smug Swiss and a superhuman Serbian – hitting unerringly accurate shots with such ferocity you can only imagine they were somehow psychologically scarred by small yellow balls in their youth and are now having some kind of bizarre controlled catharsis in front of a roaring crowd.
As I bow down and bless my HD telly (seriously, if there’s one thing that shows up the difference between high def and standard def, it’s tracking the trajectory of top-spinning forehand) there is only one thing I know will somewhat spoil my enjoyment of the match.
It’s a men’s game, so it won’t be the intolerable scrunting (screaming and grunting) – I can only watch a few minutes of a ladies game where both participants sound like they are aggressively climaxing every time they strike the ball.
It won’t even be the commentators incessant précising of the weather – even the installation of a retractable roof over Centre Court hasn’t curtailed the predictably aggressive analyses of sky blueness or drizzle thickness.
No, the thing that will make me fight a gag reflex at several points during the match will be when the cameras cut away to the fawning crowd and show one or more posh people celebrating. There are few sights that make my skin crawl more.
Like it or not, certain sports attract a certain class of spectator – not exclusively, but enough to skew the watching crowd into particular social strata. Rowing is watched by the elite, rugby and Formula 1 is middle-class fare, football a working class game, and darts is for the scum of society. (I love watching darts, by the way, so consider that self-deprecation rather than a direct insult)
While not as arse-clenchingly elitist as polo or lacrosse, tennis nonetheless attracts its fair share of chinless admirers. And guess who is more likely to be able to afford Centre Court seats on finals day? Yup, someone with a trust fund and poor taste in clothes.
What this means is that when the television director inevitably cuts away to capture the crowd’s reaction to a particularly impressive winner, there is a very high chance that the folk singled out for brief national exposure are rich thickos struggling to integrate with the rest of mankind.
Posh people are seemingly incapable of reacting to something exciting or praise-worthy in any recognisably human way. It’s quite a trick to be able to look both cripplingly self-conscious and arrogantly entitled at exactly the same time, but Tarquin from Henley has miraculously achieved this. We can’t quite work out whether the outfit he’s wearing is a subtle attempt at humour, or a considered stab at appropriate attire, but he looks like a knob either way.
And what’s this? Some wag has initiated a Mexican wave. The posh people are delirious with nervous delight, acting as if this rather basic co-ordinated effort is the single most free-spirited and joyous thing they have ever taken part in. The feeling of being a tiny yet integral part of a unifying whole is an almost alien concept to the rarefied members of the 1% club, who are far more adept at making demands and giving orders rather than knuckling down and joining in. And the sensation of communal integration is completely going to their heads, aided no doubt by the copious amounts of snob-grade champagne they’ve been choking down.
Occasionally there are the very telling cutaways to the people who are so rich they are there more as a statement of avarice – they’re not even interested in tennis, they just know Centre Court tickets are pricey and sought after so they bought them. They’re currently either asleep, checking stocks and shares on their phone, or engrossed in a conversation with someone three rows behind. Never mind that microphone-hair is about to break Gillette’s bitch for the first time in two hours.
Then there are the ones who are engrossed, yet clearly struggling to comprehend exactly what’s going on. Money and social standing has got them one of the best seats in the house, but they are no closer to understanding what the hell is happening. Fighting against generations of in-breeding, they’re desperately trying to wrap their heads around the scoring system and are asking their colleagues concerned-looking questions after every single point. To compensate, they’re also cheering at everything – serves into the net, unforced errors, injuries – everything.
Oh to be forced into watching a posh person enthusiastically clapping… it’s like watching a child with learning difficulties banging on a tin with a wooden spoon. They’re just so enchanted by this environment of wanton excess: people “cutting lose” with outrageous proclamations such as “Come on, Tim”; ladies in loose tops getting to their feet to applaud; VIDEO FUCKING REPLAYS!! The posh person is losing themselves in a dizzying haze of unrestrained abandon. This must be what it’s like for common people when they go to a rave, or do an E!
So yes, I’ll be watching. I’d have preferred a grumpy Scot in the final, but these two gents will do. I’d be happy for either of them to win. But if one of them manages to send a searing forehand straight into the startled face of a Hurray Henry, I know who I’ll be egging on that little bit more.